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Romero v. Tornier Medical Group N.V.

United States District Court, C.D. California

July 13, 2016

VALERIE ROMERO
v.
TORNIER MEDICAL GROUP N.V., ET AL.

          PRESENT: THE HONORABLE DAVID O. CARTER, JUDGE

          ORDER DENYING MOTION TO REMAND TO STATE COURT [9]

          HONORABLE DAVID O. CARTER, JUDGE

         Before the Court is Valerie Romero's ("Romero" or "Plaintff") Motion to Remand to State Court ("Motion") (Dkt. 9). The Court finds this matter appropriate for resolution without oral argument. Fed.R.Civ.P. 78; L.R. 7-15. Having considered the moving papers and the parties' arguments, the Court DENIES the Motion.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff commenced an action against Wright Medical Group N.V., which was formerly known as Tornier, Inc. ("Tornier or "Defendant")[1] on April 1, 2016. Notice of Removal (Dkt. 1) at 1. Plaintiff served the Complaint on Defendant Tornier on April 4, 2016. Id. at 2. The Complaint did not disclose Plaintiff's citizenship or the amount in controversy. See Id. Ex. D ("Compl.") at 1-7.

         On May 13, 2016, Plaintiff filed a document labeled "Stipulation of Plaintiff Regarding Plaintiff's Citizenship and the Amount in Controversy" ("Stipulation"). See Id. Ex. A at 1. That document states "Plaintiff is and has been a citizen of the State of California at all times relevant to this action, and (2) Plaintiff seeks damages in this action in excess of $75, 000.00 and Plaintiff reasonably believes that the amount at issue in this action exceeds $75, 000.00." Id.

         On May 18, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Consolidate her case with a separate medical negligence case. Declaration of Joesph H. Low IV ("Low Decl.") (Dkt. 9-2) ¶ 10.

         On June 7, 2016, Tornier removed the instant case to this Court. See Notice of Removal. In the Notice of Removal, Tornier states the diversity of citizenship requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) are satisfied. Id. at 3. Specifically, Plaintiff is a citizen of California, and Tornier is incorporated in the Netherlands and has its principal place of business there as well.[2] Id. at 10. Additionally, Tornier notes that Plaintiff's Stipulation establishes the $75, 000 amount in controversy requirement is satisfied. Id. at 2.

         Plaintiff filed the instant Motion on June 24, 2016. Defendant opposed on July 5, 2016 (Dkt. 10), [3] and Plaintiff replied on July 11, 2016 (Dkt. 12).[4]

         II. Legal Standard

         "If at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded." 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). Because 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) contains the word "shall, " not the word "may, " the court is powerless to hear the case when it lacks subject matter jurisdiction, and must remand the case to the state court. See Int'l Primate Prot. League v. Adm'rs of Tulane Educ. Fund, 500 U.S. 72, 87 (1991) ("[A] finding that removal was improper deprives that court of subject matter jurisdiction and obliges a remand under the terms of § 1447(c).").

         A defendant may generally remove a civil action from a state court to a federal court if the action could have been brought in federal court originally. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). A federal court has federal question jurisdiction over "civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 1331; see Merrell Dow Pharm. Inc. v. Thompson, 478 U.S. 804, 807-08 (1986). A federal court has diversity jurisdiction if: (1) the controversy is between "citizens of different States"; and (2) the amount in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332; see Owen Equip. & Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, 373-74 (1978). Therefore, if the district court has a basis for subject matter jurisdiction under either 28 U.S.C. § 1331 or28 U.S.C. § 1332, the action may be removed by a defendant. See Caterpillar Inc. v. Lewis, 519 U.S. 61, 68-69 (1996); Wis. Dept. of Corrs. v. Schacht, 524 U.S. 381, 386 (1998).

         However, a major limitation exists regarding the defendant's right to removal. A defendant may not remove a civil action to federal court in the state in which the action was brought if the defendant is a citizen of that state. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b)(2); see Lincoln Prop. Co. v. Roche, 546 U.S. 81, 90 n.6 (2005) (noting lower courts' characterization of the defect as procedural, not jurisdictional). Thus, a district court must remand a case removed by a "local" defendant - that is, a defendant who is a citizen of the state in which the action was originally brought. See Spencer v. U.S. Dist. Court for N. Dist. of Cal., 393 F.3d 867, 870 (9th Cir. 2004) ("It is thus clear that the presence of a local defendant at the time removal is sought bars removal.").

         III. ...


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