United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTIONS TO
ILLSTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
in these related cases have filed motions to remand their
cases to state court. Having considered the arguments and
papers submitted, and for the reasons set forth below, the
Court hereby GRANTS plaintiffs’ motions and REMANDS
these actions back to their respective Superior Courts: Case
No. 16-cv-02890 to the Superior Court of the State of
California, County of San Mateo (“San Mateo County
Superior Court”) and Case No. 16-cv-03381 to the
Superior Court of the State of California, County of San
Francisco (“San Francisco County Superior
Court”). Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), the Court
determines that these matters are appropriate for resolution
without oral argument and hereby VACATES the hearings
originally scheduled for August 5 and August 25, 2016.
April 28, 2016, plaintiff Raul Rivera commenced a securities
class action alleging only claims under the federal
Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”) in
the San Mateo County Superior Court. Case No. 16-cv-02890,
Dkt. No. 1. On May 27, 2016, defendant Fitbit, Inc.
(“Fitbit”) removed the action to this Court under
28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Id. On May 17, 2016,
plaintiff Ana da Luz commenced a securities class action
alleging only federal Securities Act claims in the San
Francisco County Superior Court. Case No. 16-cv-03381, Dkt.
No. 1. Defendant Fitbit removed that case to this Court on
May 17, 2016, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a).
Id. On June 17 and June 24, 2016, plaintiffs Rivera
and da Luz, respectively, moved to remand their cases back to
the Superior Court, arguing that the Securities Act, 15
U.S.C. § 77v(a), prohibits removal of class actions
brought in state court alleging only federal Securities Act
claims and that the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards
Act (“SLUSA”) did not eliminate concurrent state
court jurisdiction of such cases. Case No. 16-cv-02890, Dkt.
No. 29 at 8-9 (“Rivera Mot.”); Case No.
16-cv-03381, Dkt. No. 30 at 8 (“da Luz Mot.”).
Fitbit has filed oppositions, and other defendants in the
actions have filed joinders to those
oppositions. Case No. 16-cv-02890, Dkt. Nos. 33
(“Rivera Opp.”), 35; Case No. 16-cv-03381, Dkt.
Nos. 32 (“da Luz Opp.”), 34, 35. On July 8, 2016,
the Court found these two actions to be related to Robb
v. Fitbit, Inc., Case No. 3:16-cv-00151, pursuant to
Civil Local Rule 3-12(f). Case No. 16-cv-02890, Dkt. No. 36;
Case No. 16-cv-03381, Dkt. No. 36.
U.S.C. § 1441(a) states, “[e]xcept as otherwise
expressly provided by Act of Congress, any civil action
brought in a State court of which the district courts of the
United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by
the defendant or the defendants, to the district court of the
United States for the district and division embracing the
place where such action is pending.” Where subject
matter jurisdiction is lacking, federal law provides that a
district court shall remand the action. 28 U.S.C. §
1447(c). Courts must strictly construe removal statutes
against removal. Luther v. Countrywide Home Loans
Servicing LP, 533 F.3d 1031, 1034 (9th Cir. 2008).
“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) (citing Libhart v. Santa Monica Dairy
Co., 592 F.2d 1062, 1064 (9th Cir. 1979)). The burden of
establishing grounds for federal jurisdiction rests on the
removing party. Id. “However, a plaintiff
seeking remand has the burden to prove that an express
exception to removal exists.” Luther, 533 F.3d
at 1034 (citations omitted).
Motions to Remand
question before the Court is whether the Securities Act
prohibits removal of these actions. Rivera Mot. at 7; da Luz
Mot. at 7. Plaintiffs on both sides argue that it does, and
that this Court lacks jurisdiction and must remand the case.
Rivera Mot. at 9; da Luz Mot. at 8. Defendants counter that
the 1998 SLUSA amendments gave federal courts exclusive
jurisdiction over covered class actions brought under the
Securities Act, thereby granting this court jurisdiction.
Rivera Opp. at 9; da Luz Opp. at 7.
parties agree that nearly every court within this district
that has addressed this issue since 2012 has remanded this
type of case back to state court, ruling that the Securities
Act explicitly bars removal of securities class actions
asserting only federal claims. Defendants do not meaningfully
argue that anything has changed since those decisions were
issued, but urges this Court to part ways with other judges
in this district and to find, consistent with what defendants
describe as the SLUSA’s intent, that the SLUSA
“explicitly divested state courts of jurisdictions over
class actions” brought under the Securities Act. Rivera
Opp. at 2; da Luz Opp. at 2. Having examined the statutory
language and persuasiveness of previous authority, the Court
agrees with the great majority of other judges in this
district and finds that remand is proper.
with any question of statutory interpretation, [the Court]
begins with the plain language of the statute.”
Jimenez v. Quarterman, 555 U.S. 113, 118 (2009)
(citation omitted). “In ascertaining the plain meaning
of the statute, the court must look to the particular
statutory language at issue, as well as the language and
design of the statute as a whole.” K Mart Corp. v.
Cartier, Inc., 486 U.S. 281, 291 (1988) (citations
omitted). Accordingly, the Court looks to the Securities
Act’s jurisdiction and anti-removal provisions.
Securities Act, as amended by the SLUSA, provides:
The district courts of the United States and the United
States courts of any Territory shall have jurisdiction of
offenses and violations under this subchapter . . . and,
concurrent with State and Territorial courts, except as
provided in section 77p of this title with respect to covered
class actions, of all suits in equity and actions at law
brought to enforce any liability or duty created by this
subchapter ..... Except as provided in section
77p(c) of this title, no case arising under this