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Nomura v. Savino Del Bene U.S.A., Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

July 13, 2016

Daisy Nomura
v.
Savino Del Bene USA, Inc., et al.

          Present: Honorable PERCY ANDERSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

          COURT ORDER

          Honorable PERCY ANDERSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is a Notice of Removal filed by defendant Savino Del Bene USA, Inc. ("Defendant") on July 7, 2016. (Docket No. 1.) Defendant asserts that this Court has jurisdiction over the action brought against it by plaintiff Daisy Nomura ("Plaintiff") based on the Court's diversity jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

         Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, having subject matter jurisdiction only over matters authorized by the Constitution and Congress. See, e.g., Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375, 377, 114 S.Ct. 1673, 1675, 128 L.Ed.2d 391 (1994). A suit filed in state court may be removed to federal court if the federal court would have had original jurisdiction over the suit. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). A removed action must be remanded to state court if the federal court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). "Federal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance." Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). "[T]he defendant always has the burden of establishing that removal is proper." Id.

         In attempting to invoke this Court's diversity jurisdiction, Defendant must prove that there is complete diversity of citizenship between the parties and that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. To establish citizenship for diversity purposes, a natural person must be a citizen of the United States and be domiciled in a particular state. Kantor v. Wellesley Galleries, Ltd., 704 F.2d 1088, 1090 (9th Cir. 1983). Persons are domiciled in the places they reside with the intent to remain or to which they intend to return. See Kanter v. Warner-Lambert Co., 265 F.3d 853, 857 (9th Cir. 2001). For the purposes of diversity jurisdiction, a corporation is a citizen of any state where it is incorporated and of the state where it has its principal place of business. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c); see also Indus. Tectonics, Inc. v. Aero Alloy, 912 F.2d 1090, 1092 (9th Cir. 1990).

         The Notice of Removal alleges that "[t]he Complaint, at paragraph 1, discloses that [Plaintiff] is a citizen of the State of California." (Notice of Removal ¶ 4.) However, paragraph 1 of the Complaint merely states that Plaintiff "is an individual who resides in the State of California in the County of Los Angeles." Because an individual is not necessarily domiciled where he or she resides, Defendant's allegation that Plaintiff is a California resident is insufficient to establish Plaintiff's citizenship. See Kanter, 265 F.3d at 857. "Absent unusual circumstances, a party seeking to invoke diversity jurisdiction should be able to allege affirmatively the actual citizenship of the relevant parties." Id.; Bradford v. Mitchell Bros. Truck Lines, 217 F.Supp. 525, 527 (N.D. Cal. 1963) ("A petition [for removal] alleging diversity of citizenship upon information and belief is insufficient."). As a result, Defendant's allegations are insufficient to invoke this Court's diversity jurisdiction.

         Defendant must also establish that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. When an action has been removed and the amount in controversy is in doubt, there is a "strong presumption" that the plaintiff has not claimed an amount sufficient to confer jurisdiction. Gaus, 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (citing St. Paul Mercury Indem. Co. v. Red Cab Co., 303 U.S. 283, 288-90, 58 S.Ct. 586, 590-91, 82 L.Ed. 845 (1938)). "When not facially evident from the complaint that more than $75, 000 is in controversy, the removing party must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the amount in controversy meets the jurisdictional threshold." Matheson v. Progressive Specialty Ins. Co., 319 F.3d 1089, 1090 (9th Cir. 2003). "Conclusory allegations as to the amount in controversy are insufficient." Id. at 1090-91. "Under this burden, the defendant must provide evidence establishing that it is ‘more likely than not' that the amount in controversy exceeds [$75, 000]." Sanchez v. Monumental Life Ins. Co., 102 F.3d 398, 404 (9th Cir. 1996).

         Here, Defendant notes that the California Code of Civil Procedure "prohibits Plaintiff from stating an amount of damages in her Complaint" and claims, without any factual basis, that "Defendant understands that plaintiff's claim exceeds $75, 000." (Notice of Removal ¶ 6.) The fact that damages are not stated in the Complaint does not preclude Defendant from, for example, analogizing the facts of this case to others in which damages exceeded $75, 000 or seeking discovery regarding the amount in controversy. Defendant's conclusory "understanding" does not satisfy its burden to establish that the amount in controversy requirement is satisfied.

         Conclusion

         For the foregoing reasons, Defendant has failed to satisfy its burden of showing that diversity jurisdiction exists over this action. Accordingly, this action is hereby remanded to Los Angeles County Superior Court, Case No. BC622057, for ...


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