United States District Court, C.D. California
Abol G. Helmy
Aetna Health of California, Inc.
Present: The Honorable Fernando M. Olguin, United States
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
(In Chambers) Order Re: Pending Motion
reviewed and considered all the briefing filed in connection
with plaintiff's Motion to Remand (Dkt. 21,
“Motion”), the court finds that oral argument is
not necessary to resolve the Motion, see
Fed.R.Civ.P. 78; Local Rule7-15; Willis v. Pac. Mar.
Ass'n, 244 F.3d 675, 684 n. 2 (9th Cir. 2001), and
concludes as follows.
February 14, 2017, plaintiff Abol G. Helmy
(“plaintiff” or “Helmy”) filed a
state-court complaint against Aetna asserting a single claim
for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair
dealing (“implied covenant”). (See Dkt.
1-1, Complaint). On March 17, 2017, defendant removed the
action on the basis of federal question jurisdiction,
asserting that plaintiff's claim arises under the
Medicare Act. (See Dkt. 1, Notice of Removal
(“NOR”) at 2-4); see also 42 U.S.C.
§§ 1395, et seq. Plaintiff seeks remand of
the action to state court.
alleges that in June 23, 2015, he was hospitalized due to a
major stroke. (See Dkt. 1-1, Complaint at ¶
12). On July 23, 2015, he was transferred to The
Rehabilitation Centre of Beverly Hills (“Rehabilitation
Centre”) for skilled nursing facility
(“SNF”) care and services, including physical
therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.
(Id. at ¶ 13). The Rehabilitation Centre
determined that plaintiff's “rehabilitation
potential was good” and that he “would benefit
greatly from a fairly rigorous therapy plan that would
include physical, occupational and speech related therapies
conducted five times a week[.]” (Id. at ¶
alleges that “it was critical that he receive SNF care
and services immediately and continuously after the
occurrence of his stroke because it is generally and
popularly understood within the medical community that stroke
victims have the best chances for meaningful rehabilitation .
. . when they undergo rehabilitation therapies immediately
after the occurrence of a stroke. Therefore, any delay in the
receipt of [such] therapies . . . would be damaging to
him.” (Dkt. 1-1, Complaint at ¶ 17); (see
id. at ¶ 25) (alleging that “rates of
recovery after a stroke are greatest when therapeutic
rehabilitation activities occur during the acute and
post-acute periods of a stroke” and that
“prematurely discontinuing” services would have a
“damaging impact on Plaintiff's health and
recovery”). On August 26, 2015, defendant advised
“unexpectedly and without reason” that it was
unlikely to continue coverage for plaintiff's SNF care
and therapies beyond September 2, 2015. (See id. at
as a result of Aetna's “wrongful”
terminations of SNF coverage, plaintiff paid to have the
Rehabilitation Centre provide the required therapy,
“albeit on a less intensive, ‘part-time
basis[.]'” (Dkt. 1-1, Complaint at ¶ 32).
Plaintiff alleges that Aetna's conduct violated the
implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing by denying
and delaying coverage decisions “with full knowledge
and/or reckless disregard for the consequences to be borne by
Plaintiff for not immediately and consistently
receiving” SNF care and services. (Id. at
¶¶ 47-50). According to plaintiff, he was forced to
forgo certain SNF care and services “to his
detriment.” (Id. at ¶ 54).
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. They possess only
that power authorized by Constitution and statute[.]”
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S.
375, 377, 114 S.Ct. 1673, 1675 (1994). The courts are
presumed to lack jurisdiction unless the contrary appears
affirmatively from the record. See DaimlerChrysler Corp.
v. Cuno, 547 U.S. 332, 342 n. 3, 126 S.Ct. 1854, 1861
right of removal is entirely a creature of statute and a suit
commenced in a state court must remain there until cause is
shown for its transfer under some act of Congress.”
Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc. v. Henson, 537 U.S.
28, 32, 123 S.Ct. 366, 369 (2002) (internal quotation marks
omitted). Where Congress has acted to create a right of
removal, those statutes, unless otherwise stated, are
strictly construed against removal
jurisdiction. See id. Unless otherwise
expressly provided by Congress, “any civil action
brought in a State court of which the district courts of the
United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by
the defendant or the defendants, to the district
court[.]” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a); see Dennis v. H
a r t, 724 F.3d 1249, 1252 (9th Cir. 2013) (same). A
removing defendant bears the burden of establishing that
removal is proper. See Abrego Abrego v. The Dow Chem.
Co., 443 F.3d 676, 684 (9th Cir. 2006) (per
curiam) (noting the “longstanding, near-canonical
rule that the burden on removal rests with the removing
defendant”); Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d
564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (“The strong presumption
against removal jurisdiction means that the defendant always
has the burden of establishing that removal is
proper.”) (internal quotation marks omitted). Moreover,
if there is any doubt regarding the existence of subject
matter jurisdiction, the court must resolve those doubts in
favor of remanding the action to state court. See
Gaus, 980 F.2d at 566 (“Federal jurisdiction must
be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal
in the first instance.”).
courts have original jurisdiction over “all civil
actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of
the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331. For purposes
of removal based on federal question jurisdiction, the
well-pleaded complaint rule “provides that federal
jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is presented
on the face of the plaintiff's properly pleaded
complaint.” Smallwood v. Allied Van Lines,
Inc., 660 F.3d 1115, 1120 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting
Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392, 107
S.Ct. 2425, 2429 (1987)). “As the master of the
complaint, a plaintiff may defeat removal by choosing ...