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Alonso v. Blount, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

August 10, 2016

CELIO ALONSO ET AL
v.
BLOUNT, INC. ET AL

          Present: The Honorable BEVERLY REID O’CONNELL, United States District Judge

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS’ MOTIONS TO REMANDQ

          Honorable BEVERLY REID O’CONNELL, United States District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the Court are two separate motions: (1) Plaintiffs Celio Alonso and Bertha Alonso’s (collectively, the “Alonso Plaintiffs”) Motion to Remand, (Dkt. No. 12 (hereinafter, “Alonso Mot.”)); and, (2) Intervenor-Plaintiff American Zurich Insurance Company’s (“Zurich”)[1] Motion to Remand, (Dkt. No. 15 (hereinafter, “Zurich Mot.”)). After considering the papers filed in support of and in opposition to the instant Motions, the Court deems this matter appropriate for resolution without oral argument of counsel. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; C.D. Cal. L.R. 7-15. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS both Motions.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Celio Alonso (“Alonso”) was employed by Penhall Company (“Penhall”), a concrete business that offers services such as concrete cutting, core drilling, and ground-penetrating radar scanning. (Alonso Mot. at 1.) Penhall’s employees use various tools, including wall saws. (Id.) While at work on or about March 17, 2014, Alonso was standing near a Pentruder 8-20HF wall saw when it allegedly malfunctioned, causing him serious injuries.[2] (FAC ¶ 19.) After the accident, Alonso requested workers’ compensation benefits from Penhall. (Dkt. No. 1-3 (hereinafter, “Zurich Compl.”) ¶ 4.) At the time, Zurich was Penhall’s workers’ compensation insurance provider. (Zurich Compl. ¶ 3.) Zurich paid Alonso workers’ compensation benefits in accordance with Penhall’s policy and anticipates that it will be required to continue paying him benefits. (Zurich Compl. ¶ 4.)

         Defendant Tractive AB (“Tractive”) “is in the business of designing, manufacturing, constructing, assembling, inspecting, and selling various concrete cutting machines, including the Pentruder 8-20HF.” (Alonso Mot. at 1.) Defendants Blount, Inc. (“Blount”), Pentruder, Inc. (“Pentruder”), and Blount International, Inc. (“Blount International”), [3] are all “in the business of assembling, inspecting, maintaining, installing, distributing, wholesaling, and selling the Pentruder 8-20HF.” (Alonso Mot. at 1-2.) Plaintiffs contend that Defendant Tractive designed and manufactured the Pentruder 8-20HF wall saw involved in Alonso’s accident. (FAC ¶¶ 11, 18, 27.) Defendants Blount, Pentruder, and Blount International allegedly distributed and sold Penhall the wall saw. (FAC ¶ 27; Alonso Mot. at 2.)

         Plaintiffs aver that the wall saw was defective and unsafe for its intended use and that Defendants failed to provide adequate warnings to those who used and purchased the wall saw. (FAC ¶¶ 18, 29, 30, 38, 39, 41.) Accordingly, the Alonso Plaintiffs seek damages, (FAC at 9), and Zurich seeks reimbursement for the workers’ compensation benefits paid to Alonso, (Zurich Compl. ¶ 4).

         III. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Alonso filed his Original Complaint against Defendants on March 15, 2016, in the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles. (Dkt. No. 1-1.) On March 16, 2016, the Alonso Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) against the same Defendants, alleging: (1) strict product liability in tort; (2) negligence; (3) failure to warn; and, (4) loss of consortium. (See FAC.) On May 9, 2016, Zurich filed a Complaint-in-Intervention in the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, seeking reimbursement of all workers’ compensation benefits paid to Alonso pursuant to California’s subrogation provision, California Labor Code section 3852. (See Zurich Compl.) On June 6, 2016, Defendants Blount and Blount International filed their Answers.[4] (Dkt. No. 3.)

         On June 6, 2016, Defendants timely removed this action, invoking the Court’s diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (See Dkt. No. 1.) On July 5, 2016, the Alonso Plaintiffs and Zurich filed the instant Motions to Remand. (See Alonso Mot.; Zurich Mot.) On July 22, 2016, Defendants timely opposed both Motions. (Dkt. Nos. 17 (hereinafter, “Opp’n to Zurich Mot.”), 18.) On July 28, 2016, Zurich timely replied, (Dkt. No. 19), and on August 1, 2016, the Alonso Plaintiffs timely replied, (Dkt. No. 20).

         IV. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal courts are of limited jurisdiction and possess only that jurisdiction which is authorized by either the Constitution or federal statute. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). Pursuant to § 1332(a)(1), a federal district court has jurisdiction over “all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, ” and the dispute is between citizens of different states. The Supreme Court has interpreted § 1332 to require “complete diversity of citizenship, ” meaning each plaintiff must be diverse from each defendant. Caterpillar Inc. v. Lewis, 519 U.S. 61, 67-68 (1996).

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), a civil action may be removed to federal court only if the action could have been brought there originally. This means that removal is proper only if the district court has original jurisdiction over the issues alleged in the state court complaint. The Ninth Circuit “strictly construe[s] the removal statute against removal jurisdiction[.]” Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (citations omitted). If a district court finds, at any time, that it lacks original jurisdiction, the court must remand the action. See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). Moreover, “[f]ederal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance.” Gaus, 980 F.2d at 566 (citing Libhart v. Santa Monica Dairy Co., 592 F.2d 1062, 1064 (9th Cir. 1988)). This presumption against removal “means that the defendant always has the burden of ...


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