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Aspiras v. Adams & Associates, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 13, 2017

ADAMS & ASSOCIATES, INC., a Nevada a corporation Defendant.


          Troy L. Nunley United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court pursuant to Plaintiff Rolando Aspiras's (“Plaintiff) Motion for Remand to State Court. (ECF No. 6.) Defendant Adams & Associates, Inc. (“Defendant”) opposes. (ECF No. 12.) The Court has carefully considered the arguments raised by the parties' briefing. For the following reasons, Plaintiffs Motion for Remand to State Court (ECF No. 6) is DENIED.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Plaintiff brings claims against Defendant, his former employer, alleging (i) age discrimination, (ii) race and national origin discrimination, (iii) wrongful termination, (iv) retaliation, (v) failure to prevent discrimination, and (vi) intentional infliction of emotional distress. (ECF No. 1 at 18-25.) Plaintiff filed this action with the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Sacramento on February 19, 2016. (ECF No. 1 at 11.) On May 5, 2016, Defendant removed this action to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, alleging diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332 and 1441(b). (ECF No. 1 at 1-2.) Plaintiff filed the instant motion asserting that Defendant has not met its burden in showing diversity, specifically that Defendant is a citizen of Nevada and not California. (ECF No. 6 at 3-4.) Plaintiff adds that Defendant's Notice of Removal is deficient because it was not timely filed within 30 days of service of process. (ECF No. 6 at 5.)

         II. Legal Standard

         A civil action brought in state court, over which the district court has original jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant to federal court in the judicial district and division in which the state court action is pending. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). The district court has original jurisdiction over civil actions between citizens of different states in which the alleged damages exceed $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). The party asserting federal jurisdiction bears the burden of proving diversity. Lew v. Moss, 797 F.2d 747, 749 (9th Cir. 1986) (citing Resnik v. La Paz Guest Ranch, 289 F.2d 814, 819 (9th Cir. 1961)). Diversity is determined as of the time the complaint is filed and removal effected. Strotek Corp. v. Air Transp. Ass 'n of Am., 300 F.3d 1129, 1131 (9th Cir. 2002). Once jurisdiction attaches, a party cannot thereafter, by its own change of citizenship, destroy diversity. Id. at 1132. Removal statutes are to be strictly construed against removal. Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992).

         The amount in controversy is determined by reference to the complaint itself and includes the amount of damages in dispute, as well as attorney's fees, if authorized by statute or contract. Kroske v. U.S. Bank Corp., 432 F.3d 976, 980 (9th Cir. 2005). Where the complaint does not pray for damages in a specific amount, the defendant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. Singer v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 116 F.3d 373, 376 (9th Cir. 1997) (citing Sanchez v. Monumental Life Ins. Co., 102 F.3d 398, 404 (9th Cir. 1996)). If the amount is not facially apparent from the complaint, the Court may “require parties to submit summary-judgment-type evidence relevant to the amount in controversy at the time of removal.” Id. (citing Allen v. R & H Oil & Gas Co., 63 F.3d 1326, 1335-56 (5th Cir. 1995).

         Diversity requires that the citizenship of each plaintiff be diverse from the citizenship of each defendant (i.e., complete diversity). Caterpillar Inc. v. Lewis, 519 U.S. 61, 68 (1996). For purposes of diversity, a corporation is a citizen of any state in which it is incorporated and any state in which it maintains its principal place of business. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(1).

         III. Analysis

         It is undisputed that Plaintiff is a citizen of California and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. (ECF Nos. 6 at 3; 12 at 3.) The Court is left to determine Defendant's citizenship to decide whether the parties are diverse and to decide whether removal was timely.

         A. Defendant is a citizen of Nevada.

         Plaintiff contends that Defendant's Notice of Removal is insufficient because Defendant has not provided the required information to determine its corporate citizenship, such as: “(1) the number of employees it has in each state; (2) the percentage of its sales originating in each state; and (3) the percentages of its assets held in each state.” (ECF No. 6 at 6-7.) Defendant asserts it is a citizen of Nevada and argues that Plaintiff has applied the wrong legal test for corporate citizenship. (ECF No. 12 at 2.) The Court agrees.

         “The federal diversity jurisdiction statute provides that ‘a corporation shall be deemed to be a citizen of any State by which it has been incorporated and of the State where it has its principal place of business.'” Hertz Corp. v. Friend, 559 U.S. 77, 80 (2010) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(1)). The Supreme Court has concluded that “the phrase ‘principal place of business' refers to the place where the corporation's high level officers direct, control, and coordinate the corporation's activities. Lower federal courts have often metaphorically called that place the corporation's nerve center.'” Id. at 80‒81.

         Defendant's General Counsel and Vice President of Human Resources has provided a declaration in support of Defendant's opposition which provides detail of Defendant's operation. (ECF No. 13.) Defendant is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of Nevada and has been since September 25, 1990. (ECF No. 13 ¶ 2.) Defendant holds annual stockholder and Board of Directors meetings, usually in the first quarter of the year. (ECF No. 13 ¶ 2.) These meetings take place at Defendant's corporate office in Reno, as does Defendant's twice-annual meetings for its Job Corps Center Directors during which ...

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