United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR REMAND
(DOC. NO. 11)
February 4, 2016, Yvonne Saldana (“plaintiff”)
filed the current action against Home Depot USA, Inc.
(“defendant”) in the Kern County Superior Court,
alleging multiple violations of the California Fair
Employment Housing Act (“FEHA”), codified at
California Government Code § 12900 et seq., and
state wage and hour laws. (See Doc. No. 1-2.)
Defendant removed the action to this court on April 4, 2016
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332(a), 1441(b), and
1446. (Doc. No. 1.) On May 10, 2016, plaintiff filed a motion
to remand the case back to state court, alleging defendant
had failed to establish both diversity of citizenship between
the parties and an amount in controversy exceeding $75, 000
as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (Doc. No. 11.)
Defendant filed its opposition on May 24, 2016. (Doc. No.
12.) Plaintiff subsequently filed a reply on May 31, 2016.
(Doc. No. 15.) Oral argument was heard on June 7, 2016.
Attorney Lawrence Freiman appeared telephonically on behalf
of plaintiff, and Attorney Michael Wilson, Jr. appeared
telephonically on behalf of defendant.
defendant in state court may remove a civil action to federal
court so long as that case could originally have been filed
in federal court. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a); City of
Chicago v. Int’l Coll. of Surgeons, 522 U.S. 156,
163 (1997). Thus, removal of a state action may be based on
either diversity jurisdiction or federal question
jurisdiction. City of Chicago, 522 U.S. at 163;
Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392
(1987). Removal jurisdiction is based entirely on federal
statutory authority. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441 et
seq. These removal statutes are strictly construed, and
removal jurisdiction is to be rejected in favor of remand to
the state court if there are doubts as to the right of
removal. Geographic Expeditions, Inc. v. Estate of
Lhotka, 599 F.3d 1102, 1107 (9th Cir. 2010);
Provincial Gov’t of Marinduque v. Placer Dome,
Inc., 582 F.3d 1083, 1087 (9th Cir. 2009); Gaus v.
Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). The
defendant seeking removal of an action from state court bears
the burden of establishing grounds for federal jurisdiction.
Geographic Expeditions, 599 F.3d at 1106-07;
Hunter v. Philip Morris USA, 582 F.3d 1039, 1042
(9th Cir. 2009); Gaus, 980 F.2d at 566-67. The
district court must remand the case “[i]f at any time
before final judgment it appears that the district court
lacks subject matter jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C. §
1447(c); see also Bruns v. NCUA, 122 F.3d 1251, 1257
(9th Cir. 1997) (holding that remand for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction “is mandatory, not
jurisdiction exists in actions between citizens of different
States where the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000
exclusive of interest and costs. 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
Diversity of citizenship must be complete, and the presence
“of a single plaintiff from the same State as a single
defendant deprives the district court of original diversity
jurisdiction over the entire action.” Abrego Abrego
v. The Dow Chemical Co., 443 F.3d 676, 679 (9th Cir.
2006) (citations omitted).
removing party bears the burden of showing the amount in
controversy exceeds $75, 000. Sanchez v. Monumental Life
Ins. Co., 102 F.3d 398, 404 (9th Cir. 1996). The amount
in controversy must be determined as of the date of removal.
Conrad Assoc. v. Hartford Acc. & Indem.
Co., 994 F.Supp. 1196, 1200 (N.D. Cal. 1998) (citing
Miranti v. Lee, 3 F.3d 925, 928 (5th Cir. 1993) and
United Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co. v. Human Relations
Comm’n, 24 F.3d 1008, 1014 (7th Cir. 1994)).
“[T]he amount in controversy is simply an estimate of
the total amount in dispute, not a prospective assessment of
[the] defendant’s liability.” Lewis v.
Verizon Comm. Inc., 627 F.3d 395, 400 (9th Cir. 2010).
“In calculating the amount in controversy, a court must
assume that the allegations in the complaint are true and
that a jury will return a verdict for plaintiffs on all
claims alleged.” Page v. Luxottica Retail North
Am., No. 2:13-cv-01333-MCE-KJN, 2015 WL 966201, at *2
(E.D. Cal. Mar. 4, 2015) (citing Korn v. Polo Ralph
Lauren Corp., 536 F.Supp.2d 1199, 1205 (E.D. Cal.
argues defendant has failed to satisfy both elements of
diversity jurisdiction. Regarding citizenship, plaintiff
asserts defendant does not affirmatively allege its
citizenship in its notice of removal. (Doc. No. 11 at 4.)
Plaintiff also claims defendant fails to prove by a
preponderance of the evidence the amount in controversy
exceeds $75, 000. (Id. at 5-8.) The court will
analyze each argument in turn.
Diversity of Citizenship
discussed above, § 1332 requires complete diversity of
citizenship. A natural person who is a United States citizen
is a citizen of the state in which he is domiciled.
Kanter v. Warner-Lambert Co., 265 F.3d 853, 857 (9th
Cir. 2001). “A person’s domicile is her permanent
home, where she resides with the intention to remain or to
which she intends to return.” Id. (citing
Lew v. Moss, 797 F.2d 747, 749 (9th Cir. 1986)).
“[A] corporation shall be deemed to be a citizen of
every State and foreign state by which it has been
incorporated and of the State or foreign state where it has
its principal place of business[.]” 28 U.S.C. §
1332(c). “‘[P]rincipal place of business’
is best read as referring to the place where a
corporation’s officers direct, control, and coordinate
the corporation’s activities.” Hertz Corp v.
Friend, 559 U.S. 77, 92-93 (2010).
defendant argues complete diversity is established because
plaintiff alleges in her complaint she resides in California
and because defendant is a corporation neither incorporated
in or having its principal place of business located in
California. Generally, “[a] person residing in a given
state is not necessarily domiciled there, and thus is not
necessarily a citizen of that state.” Kanter,
265 F.3d at 857. However, a plaintiff’s residence can
serve as “prima facie” evidence of his domicile.
Socoloff v. LRN Corp., No. CV 13-4910-CAS (AGRx),
2013 WL 4479010, at *3 (C.D. Cal. Aug. 2013); Bey v.
SolarWorld Industries Am., Inc., 904 F.Supp.2d 1103,
1105 (D. Or. 2012) (citing Hollinger v. Home State Mut.
Ins. Co., 654 F.3d 564, 571 (5th Cir. 2011)). In its
notice of removal, defendant includes a declaration from
Benita Radcliffe-a district human resources manager for
defendant-stating plaintiff worked in Bakersfield, California
from 2006 up until her termination in 2014. (Doc. No. 17 at
¶ 4.) The court finds defendant has adequately
established plaintiff is a citizen of California based on her
long employment history in California as well as
plaintiff’s own assertions regarding her
court also finds defendant has adequately asserted it is not
a citizen of California. Defendant is incorporated in
Delaware and has its principal place of business in Georgia,
making it a citizen of those two states. (Doc. Nos. 1 at
¶ 10; 1-7 at ¶ 3.) Because there is no overlap in
citizenship between plaintiff and defendant, complete
diversity is satisfied.
Amount in Controversy
court addresses in turn each category of relief defendant
contends should factor into determining the amount in
controversy posed by this action.