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Carrigan v. GEO Corrections & Detention, LLC

United States District Court, C.D. California

May 12, 2017

Zsordihn Carrigan
v.
GEO Corrections & Detention, LLC, et al.

          Present: The Honorable PERCY ANDERSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

          CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

         Proceedings: IN CHAMBERS - COURT ORDER

         Before the Court is a Notice of Removal filed by defendants GEO Corrections & Detention, LLC and The GEO Group, Inc. (collectively “Defendants”) on May 10, 2017. Defendants asserts that this Court has jurisdiction over the action brought against it by plaintiff Zsordihn Carrigan (“Plaintiff”) based on the Court's diversity jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

         Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, having subject matter jurisdiction only over matters authorized by the Constitution and Congress. See, e.g., Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375, 377, 114 S.Ct. 1673, 1675, 128 L.Ed.2d 391 (1994). A suit filed in state court may be removed to federal court if the federal court would have had original jurisdiction over the suit. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). A removed action must be remanded to state court if the federal court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). “The burden of establishing federal jurisdiction is on the party seeking removal, and the removal statute is strictly construed against removal jurisdiction.” Prize Frize, Inc. v. Matrix (U.S.) Inc., 167 F.3d 1261, 1265 (9th Cir. 1999). “Federal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance.” Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992).

         In attempting to invoke this Court's diversity jurisdiction, Defendant must prove that there is complete diversity of citizenship between the parties and that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. To establish citizenship for diversity purposes, a natural person must be a citizen of the United States and be domiciled in a particular state. Kantor v. Wellesley Galleries, Ltd., 704 F.2d 1088, 1090 (9th Cir. 1983). Persons are domiciled in the places they reside with the intent to remain or to which they intend to return. See Kanter v. Warner-Lambert Co., 265 F.3d 853, 857 (9th Cir. 2001). For the purposes of diversity jurisdiction, a corporation is a citizen of any state where it is incorporated and of the state where it has its principal place of business. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c); see also Indus. Tectonics, Inc. v. Aero Alloy, 912 F.2d 1090, 1092 (9th Cir. 1990). The citizenship of an LLC is the citizenship of its members. See Johnson v. Columbia Props. Anchorage, LP, 437 F.3d 894, 899 (9th Cir. 2006) (“[L]ike a partnership, an LLC is a citizen of every state of which its owners/members are citizens.”); Marseilles Hydro Power, LLC v. Marseilles Land & Water Co., 299 F.3d 643, 652 (7th Cir. 2002) (“the relevant citizenship [of an LLC] for diversity purposes is that of the members, not of the company”); Handelsman v. Bedford Village Assocs., Ltd. P'ship, 213 F.3d 48, 51-52 (2d Cir. 2000) (“a limited liability company has the citizenship of its membership”); Cosgrove v. Bartolotta, 150 F.3d 729, 731 (7th Cir. 1998); TPS Utilicom Servs., Inc. v. AT & T Corp., 223 F.Supp.2d 1089, 1101 (C.D. Cal. 2002) (“A limited liability company . . . is treated like a partnership for the purpose of establishing citizenship under diversity jurisdiction”).

         The Notice of Removal alleges that “Plaintiff alleges that at all times mentioned in the Complaint, she was and is a resident of the State of California, and therefore is a citizen of the State of California. (Jimenez Decl., ¶ 2, Ex. A, Complaint, ¶ 2.)” (Notice of Removal ¶ 13.) The Complaint alleges that Plaintiff “is a resident of the County of San Bernardino.” (Compl. ¶ 2.) As the Notice of Removal indicates, the Complaint alleges only Plaintiff's residence. Because the only support for Defendants' allegation of Plaintiff's citizenship is an allegation of residence, and residence is not the same as citizenship, the Notice of Removal's allegations are insufficient to establish Plaintiff's citizenship. “Absent unusual circumstances, a party seeking to invoke diversity jurisdiction should be able to allege affirmatively the actual citizenship of the relevant parties.” Kanter, 265 F.3d at 857; Bradford v. Mitchell Bros. Truck Lines, 217 F.Supp. 525, 527 (N.D. Cal. 1963) (“A petition [for removal] alleging diversity of citizenship upon information and belief is insufficient.”). As a result, Defendants' allegations related to Plaintiff's citizenship are insufficient to invoke this Court's diversity jurisdiction.

         The Notice of Removal also does not properly allege the citizenship of GEO Corrections & Detention, LLC. Specifically, the Notice of Removal alleges that GEO Corrections & Detention, LLC “has three members: CEO George Zoley, CFO Brian Evans, and General Counsel John Bulfin. (Ryan Decl., ¶ 7.) None of these individuals reside in California. Rather, all three of these individuals reside in Florida, and are therefore citizens of Florida. (Id.)” (Notice of Removal ¶ 22.) As the Court has previously stated, residence is not the same as citizenship. See Kanter, 265 F.3d at 857. The Ryan Declaration, upon which the Notice of Removal relies, alleges only that the members of GEO Corrections & Detention, LLLC “reside in Florida.” (Ryan Decl. ¶ 7.) A defendant is presumed to know the facts surrounding its own citizenship. See, e.g., Dugdale v. Nationwide Mut. Fire Ins. Co., No. Civ. A. 4:05 CV 138, 2006 WL 335628, at *5 (E.D. Va. Feb. 14, 2006) (“[A]lthough . . . a defendant need not investigate a plaintiff's citizenship, certainly a defendant is responsible for knowing its own citizenship, and could not ignore such only to later claim that subsequent documents revealed to the defendant its own citizenship.”); Day v. Zimmer, Inc., 636 F.Supp. 451, 453 (N.D.N.Y. 1986) (finding that, even if plaintiff misidentifies a defendant's address, “obviously defendant is in the best position to know its residence for diversity purposes”). As a result, Defendants' allegations concerning their own citizenship are insufficient to invoke this Court's diversity jurisdiction. See Kanter, 265 F.3d at 857.

         For the foregoing reasons, Defendants have failed to satisfy its burden of showing that diversity jurisdiction exists over this action. Accordingly, this action is hereby remanded to San Bernardino County Superior Court, Case No. CIVDS1704583 ...


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