United States District Court, C.D. California
Present: Honorable Fernando M. Olguin, United States District
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
(In Chambers) Order Re: Motion to Remand
reviewed and considered all the briefing filed with respect
to plaintiff's Motion to Remand  (Dkt. 12,
“Motion”), the court finds that oral argument is
not necessary to resolve the Motion, see
Fed.R.Civ.P. 78; Local Rule 7-15; Willis v. Pac. Mar.
Ass'n, 244 F.3d 675, 684 n. 2 (9th Cir. 2001), and
concludes as follows.
January 13, 2017, plaintiff Adam Mehlman
(“Mehlman” or “plaintiff”) filed a
Complaint in the Los Angeles County Superior Court against
Delta Air Lines, Inc. (“Delta” or
“defendant”) and Does 1 through 100
(collectively, “defendants”) asserting a single
claim of negligence. (See Dkt. 1-1, Complaint at
¶¶ 1-3 & 26-32). Specifically, plaintiff
alleges that while in the air during an international flight
from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Atlanta, Georgia, a Delta
flight attendant “knocked an entire pot of scalding
coffee into Plaintiff's lap[, ]” (see id.
at ¶¶ 6-7), resulting in first and second degree
burns, (see id. at ¶ 8), which Delta employees
failed to adequately treat during the remainder of the
flight. (See id. at ¶¶ 9-21).
February 15, 2017, Delta timely removed the action on the
basis of federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1331 and 1441. (See Dkt. 1, Notice of
Removal (“NOR”) at ¶¶ 1-2). On February
24, 2017, Delta amended the notice of removal on the
additional basis of diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28
U.S.C. §§ 1332 and 1441. (See Dkt. 13,
Amended Notice of Removal (“ANOR”) at ¶ 3).
Specifically, Delta contends that federal question
jurisdiction exists because plaintiff's negligence claim
is completely preempted by the Convention for the Unification
of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air, May 28,
1999 (“Montreal Convention”). (See id.
at ¶ 1). Delta alternatively contends that diversity
jurisdiction exists because plaintiff is a citizen of
California, Delta is a citizen of Delaware and Georgia, and
plaintiff claims $1 million in damages. (See id. at
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. They possess only
that power authorized by Constitution and statute[.]”
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S.
375, 377, 114 S.Ct. 1673, 1675 (1994). The courts are
presumed to lack jurisdiction unless the contrary appears
affirmatively from the record. See DaimlerChrysler Corp.
v. Cuno, 547 U.S. 332, 342 n. 3, 126 S.Ct. 1854, 1861
(2006). Federal courts have a duty to examine jurisdiction
sua sponte before proceeding to the merits of a
case, see Ruhrgas AG v. Marathon Oil Co., 526 U.S.
574, 583, 119 S.Ct. 1563, 1569 (1999), “even in the
absence of a challenge from any party.” Arbaugh v.
Y&H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 514, 126 S.Ct. 1235, 1244
right of removal is entirely a creature of statute and a suit
commenced in a state court must remain there until cause is
shown for its transfer under some act of Congress.”
Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc. v. Henson, 537 U.S.
28, 32, 123 S.Ct. 366, 369 (2002) (internal quotation marks
omitted). Where Congress has acted to create a right of
removal, those statutes, unless otherwise stated, are
strictly construed against removal jurisdiction. See
id. Unless otherwise expressly provided by 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[.]” 28 U.S.C. §
1441(a); see Dennis v. Hart, 724 F.3d 1249, 1252
(9th Cir. 2013) (same). A removing defendant bears the burden
of establishing that removal is proper. See Abrego Abrego
v. The Dow Chem. Co., 443 F.3d 676, 684 (9th Cir. 2006)
(per curiam) (noting the “longstanding,
near-canonical rule that the burden on removal rests with the
removing defendant”); Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980
F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (“The strong presumption
against removal jurisdiction means that the defendant always
has the burden of establishing that removal is
proper.”) (internal quotation marks omitted). Moreover,
if there is any doubt regarding the existence of subject
matter jurisdiction, the court must resolve those doubts in
favor of remanding the action to state court. See
Gaus, 980 F.2d at 566 (“Federal jurisdiction must
be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal
in the first instance.”).
on the court's review of the ANOR, the state court
Complaint, and the briefing on the Motion, the court finds
that defendant has met its burden to establish that removal
was proper in this case. Specifically, the court is persuaded
that plaintiff could have originally brought this action in
federal court by competently alleging facts supplying
diversity jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. §
1332(a); Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams,
482 U.S. 386, 392, 107 S.Ct. 2425, 2429 (1987) (“Only
state-court actions that originally could have been filed in
federal court may be removed to federal court by the
defendant.”) (footnote omitted).
plaintiff “is a resident in the County of Los Angeles,
California.” (Dkt. 1-1, Complaint at ¶ 1).
Defendant is a Delaware corporation that has its corporate
headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. (See Dkt. 13, ANOR
at ¶ 8 & Exh. D); Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134
S.Ct. 746, 760 (2014) (“With respect to a corporation,
the place of incorporation and principal place of business
are paradigm bases for general jurisdiction.”)
(internal quotation and alteration marks omitted).
respect to the amount in controversy, Delta has met its
burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the
amount in controversy meets the $75, 000 jurisdictional
threshold. See Valdez v. Allstate Ins. Co., 372 F.3d
1115, 1117 (9th Cir. 2004); Matheson v. Progressive
Specialty Ins. Co., 319 F.3d 1089, 1090 (9th Cir. 2003)
(per curiam) (“Where it is 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. Where doubt regarding the
right to removal exists, a case should be remanded to state
court.”) (footnotes omitted). Here, the amount of
damages plaintiff seeks cannot be determined from the
Complaint, as the Complaint does not set forth a specific
amount. (See Dkt. 1-1, Complaint at ECF 11) (Prayer
for Relief). But during the meet and confer in connection
with this Motion, plaintiff advised Delta that if it
stipulated to remand the action to state court, plaintiff
would “stipulate to damages no more than $ 1
million.” (Dkt. 18-1, Declaration of Todd C. ...