United States District Court, C.D. California
CARLOS CASTELLON ET AL.
PENN-RIDGE TRANSPORTATION, INC. ET AL.
PRESENT: THE HONORABLE ANDREW J. GUILFORD
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
[IN CHAMBERS] ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO REMAND
Penn-Ridge Transportation, Inc. has removed this
wage-and-hour class action, for a third time, under
the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”), 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332(d)(2). Plaintiff Carlos Castellon moves to
remand, arguing that Defendant's third notice of removal
was untimely. The Court GRANTS the motion to remand. (Dkt.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, ” and they
possess “only that power authorized by Constitution and
statute.” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of
America, 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). The Constitution
provides, in Article III, § 2, that “[t]he
judicial Power [of the United States] shall extend . . . to
all Cases . . . between Citizens of different States.”
And Congress has authorized district courts to exercise
jurisdiction over certain class actions, if the class has
more than 100 members, the parties are minimally diverse, and
the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million. See 28
U.S.C. §§ 1332(d)(2)(A), (5)(B); Dart Cherokee
Basin Operating Co., LLC v. Owens, 135 S.Ct. 547, 552
(2014). “Nothing is to be more jealously guarded by a
court than its jurisdiction.” See United States v.
Ceja-Prado, 333 F.3d 1046, 1051 (9th Cir. 2003)
(internal quotation marks omitted).
Removals. The Court isn't convinced that
Defendant's third notice of removal was
permissible, or that anything relevant has changed in the
last two years. A successive removal petition is appropriate
only upon a “relevant change of circumstances,
”-that is, “when subsequent pleadings or events
reveal a new and different ground for
removal.” Reyes v. Dollar Tree Stores, Inc.,
781 F.3d 1185, 1188 (9th Cir. 2015) (listing, as examples, an
intervening change in law or an amended complaint); see
also Gyorke-Takatri v. Nestle USA, Inc., No.
16-CV-03893-WHO, 2016 WL 5514756, at *2-4 (N.D. Cal. Sept.
30, 2016). For good reason. Courts have long recognized that
removal in diversity cases operates to “the prejudice
of state court jurisdiction.” See In re La
Providencia Dev. Corp., 406 F.2d 251, 252 (1st Cir.
1969). “[I]n the interest of judicial economy . . . and
in recognition of principles of comity, ” federal
courts are wary of interfering with state court proceedings
and loathe to see cases “ricochet back and
forth.” Id.; see also Harris v. Bankers
Life & Cas. Co., 425 F.3d 689, 698 (9th Cir. 2005)
(recognizing that courts should “gaurd against
premature and protective removals and minimize the
potential for a cottage industry of removal
litigation”). Just so here. Defendant hasn't
sufficiently address the issue of successive removals or
identify any relevant change in circumstances-either in its
notice of removal, its opposition papers, or at the hearing.
True, Congress “enacted [CAFA] to facilitate
adjudication of certain class actions in federal
court.” See Dart Cherokee, 135 S.Ct. at 554.
But, as always, the burden of establishing jurisdiction rests
upon the party asserting jurisdiction. See Kokkonen,
511 U.S. at 377. This Court will not presume otherwise.
The parties dispute whether Defendant's third
notice of removal was timely under CAFA. A 30-day removal
period is triggered if the initial pleading does not indicate
that the case is removable, and the defendant receives
“a copy of an amended pleading, motion, order or other
paper from which it may first be ascertained that the case is
one which is or has become removable.” 28 U.S.C. §
1446(b)(3). Although the Court need not decide this issue,
it's persuaded for the reasons stated in Plaintiff's
motion, that the record contained figures sufficient to
establish an amount in controversy exceeding $5 million-more
than 30 days before January 26, 2017. As Plaintiff correctly
points out, a defendant may not “ignore pleadings or
other documents from which removability may be ascertained
and seek removal only when it becomes strategically
advantageous for it to do so.” Roth v. CHA
Hollywood Med. Ctr., L.P., 720 F.3d 1121, 1125 (9th Cir.
2013). Further, CAFA “requires a defendant to apply a
reasonable amount of intelligence in ascertaining
removability.” Kuxhausen v. BMW Fin. Servs. NA
LLC, 707 F.3d 1136, 1140 (9th Cir. 2013).
for attorney fees. The Court denies Plaintiff's
request for attorney fees. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c),
“an order remanding the case may require payment of
just costs and any actual expenses, including attorney fees,
incurred as a result of the removal.” But
“[a]bsent unusual circumstances, courts may award
attorney's fees under [28 U.S.C.] § 1447(c) only
where the removing party lacked an objectively reasonable
basis for seeking removal.” Martin v. Franklin
Capital Corp., 546 U.S. 132, 141 (2005). Because
Defendant's basis for removing this case to federal court
was not “objectively unreasonable, ” each party
shall bear its own costs.
Defendant has failed to identify a relevant change in
circumstances, the Court GRANTS ...