United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR REMAND Re:
Dkt. No. 9
R. LLOYD United States Magistrate Judge
lawsuit arises out of a one-car accident in which plaintiff
David Sley says his new Toyota 4 Runner sustained substantial
damage that would have been covered under his automobile
insurance policy with defendant USAA Casualty Insurance
Company (USAA). Plaintiff claims that when he bought the
vehicle, he asked USAA to increase his coverage, but USAA
failed to do so. And, Sley says that although he timely
notified USAA of the incident, defendant refused to pay
insurance benefits under the policy. The key dispute,
according to plaintiff, is whether he, in fact, increased his
insurance coverage before the accident occurred.
filed his complaint in the Santa Clara County Superior Court,
asserting five claims for relief: breach of contract, breach
of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, negligence,
reformation of contract, and declaratory relief. On the civil
cover sheet, he checked the box indicating that this is an
“Unlimited” civil matter, meaning that the amount
he demands exceeds $25, 000. Although the complaint states
that Sley seeks general and special damages, punitive
damages, and attorney's fees, it does not specify the
removed the matter here, asserting diversity jurisdiction, 28
U.S.C. § 1332. Sley moves for an order remanding this
case to the state court. There is no dispute that the parties
are of diverse citizenship. The only issue is whether USAA
has met its burden of establishing that the amount in
controversy exceeds the $75, 000 jurisdictional threshold.
parties have expressly consented that all proceedings in this
matter may be heard and finally adjudicated by the
undersigned. 28 U.S.C. § 636(c); Fed.R.Civ.P. 73. Upon
consideration of the moving and responding papers, the court
grants plaintiff's motion.
to federal court is proper where the federal court would have
original subject matter jurisdiction over the complaint. 28
U.S.C. § 1441. The removal statutes are strictly
construed against removal and place the burden on the
defendant to demonstrate that removal is proper.
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)).
district courts have diversity jurisdiction over civil
actions in which the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or
value of $75, 000 (exclusive of interest and costs) and is
between citizens of different states. 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
“The amount in controversy, for purposes of diversity
jurisdiction, is the total ‘amount at stake in the
underlying litigation.'” Sasso v. Noble Utah
Long Beach, LLC, No. CV 14-09154-AB (AJWx), 2015 WL
898468, at *2 (C.D. Cal., Mar. 3, 2015) (citing Theis
Research, Inc. v. Brown & Bain, 400 F.3d 659, 662
(9th Cir. 2005)). “[I]n assessing the amount in
controversy, a court must assume that the allegations of the
complaint are true and assume that a jury will return a
verdict for the plaintiff on all claims made in the
complaint.” Id. (citations omitted).
has the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the
evidence, that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.
Cohn v. Petsmart, Inc., 281 F.3d 837, 839 (9th Cir.
2002) (citing Sanchez v. Monumental Life Ins. Co.,
102 F.3d 398, 404 (9th Cir. 1996)). In determining whether
defendant has met its burden, “[t]he district court may
consider whether it is ‘facially apparent' from the
complaint that the jurisdictional amount is in
controversy.” Singer v. State Farm Mutual Auto.
Ins., 116 F.3d 373, 377 (9th Cir. 1997) (citation
omitted). Where, as here, the complaint does not specify
damages, the court may examine the facts of the removal
petition, as well as summary-judgment-type evidence submitted
by the parties. Id.
Plaintiff's Post-Removal Stipulation
removal, Sley offered to stipulate that he will not seek more
than $75, 000, including punitive damages and attorney's
fees. Plaintiff correctly notes that courts within the Ninth
Circuit have remanded actions on the condition that a
plaintiff stipulates to seeking less than the jurisdictional
minimum. See Patel v. Nike Retail Services, Inc., 58
F.Supp.3d 1032, 1038-39 (N.D. Cal. 2014) (citing cases);
see also Conrad Associates v. Hartford Accident &
Indemnity Co., 994 F.Supp. 1996, 1199 (N.D. Cal. 1998)
(noting that “[s]ome cases have remanded an action to
state court after the plaintiff voluntarily
stipulated that he would not seek damages above the
jurisdictional amount, ” but concluding that a
plaintiff could not be coerced into making such a
stipulation.) Nevertheless, the Supreme Court has long stated
that post-removal stipulations cannot oust the district court
And though, as here, the plaintiff after removal, by
stipulation, by affidavit, or by amendment of his pleadings,
reduces the claim below the requisite amount, this does not
deprive the district court of jurisdiction. Thus events
occurring subsequent to removal which reduce the amount
recoverable, whether beyond the plaintiff's control or
the result of his volition, do not oust the district
court's jurisdiction once it has attached.
St. Paul Mercury Indemnity Co. v. Red Cab Co., 303
U.S. 283, 292 (1938). Accordingly, this court gives
plaintiff's proffered ...