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Bastami v. Semiconductor Components Industries, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

April 13, 2017

SIAMAK BASTAMI, Plaintiff,
v.
SEMICONDUCTOR COMPONENTS INDUSTRIES, LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO REMAND RE: DKT. NO. 10

          LUCY H. KOH United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Siamak Bastami (“Plaintiff) brings this suit against Defendant Semiconductor Components Industries, LLC (“Defendant”) for employment discrimination. Before the Court is Plaintiffs Motion to Remand. ECF No. 10 (“Mot.”). Having considered the parties' briefing, the relevant law, and the record in this case, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs Motion to Remand.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On January 14, 2016, Defendant sent Plaintiff a written offer of employment. ECF No. 10-1, Declaration of Scardigli (“Scardigli Decl.”) Ex. A. Plaintiff accepted the offer, and was employed by Defendant as a System Applications, Senior Manager from January 25, 2016 to May 27, 2016. Complaint, ECF No. 1-1 (“Compl.”) ¶ 8. Plaintiff alleges that he was disabled because he suffered from kidney failure, which required weekly dialysis. Id. ¶ 9. Plaintiff alleges that, on May 27, 2016, Defendant terminated Plaintiff because of Plaintiff's disability. Id. Moreover, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant “refused to provide reasonable accommodation for [Plaintiff's] disability in the form of, for instance, a sufficient leave of absence.” Id. ¶ 10. Defendant's leave policy allowed 30 days of medical leave, and Plaintiff took medical leave from April 27, 2016 to May 27, 2016. Id. When Plaintiff allegedly requested a “brief extension, ” Defendant refused, and instead, terminated Plaintiff. Id.

         On July 8, 2016, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”). Id. ¶ 12. The DFEH issued Plaintiff a right-to-sue notice.

         On November 14, 2016, Plaintiff filed the instant suit in the Superior Court of California for the County of Santa Clara. See Compl. Defendant alleged three causes of action for violation of California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (the “FEHA”): (1) disability discrimination, (2) failure to accommodate, and (3) failure to prevent discrimination. Id.

         On January 26, 2017, Defendant removed the instant suit to federal court based on diversity jurisdiction. ECF No. 1 (“Notice of Removal”). Plaintiff is a California resident, and Defendant is a corporation incorporated in Delaware with its primary place of business in Arizona. Id. Defendant asserts that the amount in controversy is at least $117, 000. Id.

         On February 9, 2017, Plaintiff filed the instant motion to remand. See Mot. Plaintiff's motion for remand is based on a forum selection clause in the January 14, 2016 written offer of employment sent from Defendant to Plaintiff. Scardigli Decl. Ex. A. On February 23, 2017, Defendant filed an opposition to Plaintiff's motion to remand, ECF No. 18 (“Opp'n”), and on March 2, 2017, Plaintiff filed a reply, ECF No. 19 (“Reply”).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A suit may be removed from state court to federal court only if the federal court would have had subject matter jurisdiction over the case. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a); see Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987) (“Only state-court actions that originally could have been filed in federal court may be removed to federal court by the defendant.”). “In civil cases, subject matter jurisdiction is generally conferred upon federal district courts either through diversity jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1332, or federal question jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1331.” Peralta v. Hispanic Bus., Inc., 419 F.3d 1064, 1068 (9th Cir. 2005). If it appears at any time before final judgment that the federal court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the federal court must remand the action to state court. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).

         The party seeking removal bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction. Provincial Gov't of Marinduque v. Placer Dome, Inc., 582 F.3d 1083, 1087 (9th Cir. 2009). “The removal statute is strictly construed, and any doubt about the right of removal requires resolution in favor of remand.” Moore-Thomas v. Alaska Airlines, Inc., 553 F.3d 1241, 1244 (9th Cir. 2009) (citing Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992)).

         Even if a Court has subject matter jurisdiction over a suit that has been removed, a suit may be remanded based on a forum selection clause. See Kamm v. ITEX Corp., 568 F.3d 752, 756 (9th Cir. 2009) (“[A] forum selection clause is similar to other grounds for not exercising jurisdiction over a case, such as abstention in favor of state court jurisdiction under Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), and related abstention cases, or a refusal to exercise supplemental jurisdiction and a resulting remand to state court under 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)); QSR Mgmt., Inc. v. Dunkin Brands, Inc., 2008 WL 2856456, at *1 (CD. Cal. Mar. 23, 2008) (“A court has inherent authority to remand an action to state court to enforce a forum selection agreement” (citation omitted)); Comerica Bank v. Whitehall Specialties, Inc., 352 F.Supp.2d 1077, 1079-80 (CD. Cal. 2004) (“The enforcement of a forum selection clause is a proper basis for remanding a removed case to state court”); Pelleport Investors, Inc. v. Budco Quality Theatres, Inc., 741 F.2d 273, 275, 280 (9th Cir. 1984) (affirming the district court's remand of an action to state court on grounds that a valid and enforceable forum selection clause governed).

         In cases based on diversity jurisdiction, federal law governs the interpretation and enforceability of forum selection clauses. Manetti-Farrow, Inc. v. Gucci Am., Inc., 858 F.2d 509, 513 (9th Cir. 1988) (“We conclude that the federal procedural issues raised by forum selection clauses significantly outweigh the state interests, and the federal rule announced in [M/S Bremen v. Zapata Off-Shore Co., 407 U.S. 1, 12 (1972)] controls enforcement of forum clauses in diversity cases . . . . Moreover, because enforcement of a forum clause necessarily entails interpretation of the clause before it can be enforced, federal law also applies to interpretation of forum selection clauses.” (citation omitted)).

         Under Ninth Circuit and United States Supreme Court precedent, forum selection clauses are presumptively valid and enforceable “‘absent some compelling and countervailing reason.'” Murphy v. Schneider Nat l, Inc., 362 F.3d 1133, 1140 (9th Cir. 2004) (quoting Bremen, 407 U.S. at 12). The Ninth Circuit has identified three “compelling” reasons that would permit a court to disregard a forum selection clause: “(1) ‘if the inclusion of the clause in the agreement was the product of fraud or overreaching'; (2) ‘if the party wishing to repudiate the clause would effectively be deprived of his day in court were the clause enforced'; and (3) ‘if enforcement would contravene a strong public policy of the forum in which suit is brought.'” Id. (quoting Richards v. Lloyd's of London, 135 F.3d 1289, 1294 (9th Cir. 1998)).

         III. DISCUSSION

         The parties do not dispute that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this case based on diversity jurisdiction. The Court agrees. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, diversity jurisdiction exists if the Plaintiff and Defendant are citizens of different states and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. Here, Plaintiff is a resident of California; Defendant is a company incorporated in Delaware with its primary place of business in Arizona; and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. Notice of Removal ¶ 18. Accordingly, the Court has diversity jurisdiction.

         Regardless, Plaintiff argues that the instant suit should be remanded to the California Superior Court for the County of Santa Clara based on the forum selection clause in Defendant's January 14, 2016 written offer of employment to Defendant. The forum selection clause states the following:

Governing Law and Venue
. . . .
Except for actions for injunctive or other equitable relief, which may be brought in any court of competent jurisdiction, any legal suit, action or proceeding arising out of or relating to this offer letter shall be commenced in a federal court in the District of California or in state court in the County of Santa Clara, California, and each party hereto irrevocably submits to ...

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