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Stiny v. Northrop Grumman Systems Corp.

United States District Court, C.D. California

March 1, 2017

Elijah Stiny
v.
Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation et al.

          Present: The Honorable Philip S. Gutierrez, United States District Judge

          CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

         Proceedings (In Chambers): Order GRANTING Plaintiff's Motion to Remand

         Before the Court is Plaintiff Elijah Stiny's motion to remand this action to state court. See Dkt. # 11. The Court finds this matter appropriate for decision without oral argument. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; L.R. 7-15. After considering the papers, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's motion to remand.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Elijah Stiny, a California citizen, worked as an engineer at Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation (“NGSC”) from June 11, 2007 to June 18, 2014. See Complaint (“Compl.”), Dkt. # 1-1, 2:13-20. In this suit against his former employer, Plaintiff alleges that he was wrongfully terminated because, among other things, he expressed disagreement with a company policy regarding diversity hiring and promotions. See generally id.

         Plaintiff filed this case in Los Angeles County Superior Court on September 1, 2016. See generally Id. He pled only one state-law cause of action: wrongful termination. See generally Id. The original Complaint named only one party as a Defendant: NGSC. See generally Id. NGSC is incorporated and has its principal place of business in Virginia; thus, NGSC is a citizen of Virginia for diversity purposes. See Defendant's Notice of Removal, Dkt. # 1, 4:8-24.

         NGSC removed this case to federal court on November 16, 2016, on grounds of diversity jurisdiction. See generally Id. Two days before removal, on November 14, 2016, Plaintiff named as Defendants three California citizens: Dale Krasnow, Marilyn Aja, and Jerome Edwards (collectively, “Non-Diverse Defendants”). See Plaintiff's Motion to Remand (“Mot.”), Dkt. # 11, 1:11-2:7. Plaintiff failed to notify NGSC about the amendment until after NGSC removed the case, and there is no evidence that Plaintiff served the Non-Diverse Defendants. See Opp. 4:4-11.

         Plaintiff now moves to remand the action to state court because the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. See generally Mot. NGSC opposes the motion. See generally Opp.

         II. Legal Standard

         Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. See Gunn v. Minton, 133 S.Ct. 1059, 1064 (2013). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441, a defendant may remove a civil action from state court to federal district court only if the federal court has subject matter jurisdiction over the case. See Chicago v. Int'l Coll. of Surgeons, 522 U.S. 156, 163 (1997) (“The propriety of removal thus depends on whether the case originally could have been filed in federal court.”). The case shall be remanded to state court if at any time before final judgment it appears a removing court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c); Int'l Primate Prot. League v. Adm'rs of Tulane Educ. Fund, 500 U.S. 72, 87 (1991). There is a strong presumption against removal jurisdiction, so the party seeking removal always has the burden of establishing that removal is proper. See Geographic Expeditions, Inc. v. Estate of Lhotka ex rel. Lhotka, 599 F.3d 1102, 1107 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 567 (9th Cir. 1992)).

         III. Discussion

         NGSC argues Plaintiff's motion to remand should be denied because: (1) the Court should ignore the Non-Diverse Defendants' citizenship because they were not served when the case was removed; (2) the Non-Diverse Defendants were fraudulently joined; and (3) Plaintiff's joinder is procedurally defective. See generally Opp.

         A. Service Is Not Required to Consider the Non-Diverse Defendants' Citizenship for Diversity Purposes

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, for the Court to properly have subject matter jurisdiction based on the diversity of the parties, each defendant must be a citizen of a different state from each plaintiff and the amount in controversy must exceed $75, 000. See 28 U.S.C. ยง 1332. A person's domicile, meaning a person's permanent home where he or she resides with the intention to remain or to which he or she intends to return, determines ...


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