United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER REMANDING TO STATE COURT, RE: DKT. NOS. 12,
M. Ryu, United States Magistrate Judge.
Pro se Plaintiff Dongxiao Yue filed this lawsuit against
Defendants Chun-Hui Miao and Bian-Wang.com on December 15,
2017 in Superior Court of California, County of Contra Costa.
Miao and Bian-Wang.com subsequently removed the case to this
court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441. [Docket No. 1
(Notice of Removal).] Yue now moves to remand the case to
state court. [Docket No. 15 (Mot. to Remand).] Miao and
Bian-Wang.com move pursuant to Federal Rule of Procedure
12(b)(2) to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal
jurisdiction, or in the alternative, pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1404(a) to transfer venue. [Docket No. 12 (Mot. to
reviewed the complaint, notice of removal, and the
parties' motions, the court finds that this matter is
appropriate for decision without oral argument pursuant to
Civil Local Rule 7-1(b). The May 10, 2018 hearing is VACATED.
The court concludes that it presently lacks subject matter
over this action and sua sponte remands the case to Contra
Costa County Superior Court. The motions to remand and to
dismiss are denied as moot.
an action stemming from a dispute over blog postings and
comments posted on a website operated by Defendant Miao.
Plaintiff Yue is an individual residing in Contra Costa
County. Compl. ¶ 1. Miao is an associate professor at
the University of South Carolina. In January 2013, Miao
created the website Bian-Wang.com. Id. at ¶ 5.
Yue is a registered user of the site. Id. at ¶
8. Yue alleges that he has been the subject of a
“defamation campaign” conducted on many websites,
including Bian-Wang.com, and has filed at least two
complaints in California state courts alleging defamation.
Id. at ¶¶ 9, 11, 21. He alleges that Miao
has “actively participated in” and encouraged the
attacks against Yue, and that Miao has refused to enforce
Bian-Wang.com's rules regarding abusive postings.
Id. at ¶¶ 12, 20, 24-27.
filed the complaint in state court on December 15, 2017,
alleging three claims for relief: 1) breach of contract; 2)
breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair
dealing; and 3) unfair competition in violation of California
Business and Professions Code section 17200 et seq. Compl.
Yue seeks damages, exemplary and/or punitive damages,
restitution, injunctive relief, attorneys' fees, and
costs. The complaint does not plead a specific amount of
damages. See Prayer for Relief.
served Miao with the summons and complaint on January 17,
2018. [Docket No. 15-1 (Affidavit of Service).] Miao removed
the case to this court asserting diversity of citizenship
under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Notice of Removal ¶¶
5-8. The notice of removal was filed on February 20, 2018.
See id. In the notice of removal, Miao asserts that
removal is proper because the requirements of diversity
jurisdiction are satisfied. He states that Yue alleges that
he “is an individual residing in Contra Costa
County” and is thus a citizen of California, and states
that Miao is a citizen of South Carolina. Id. at
¶¶ 6-7 (citing Compl. ¶ 2). While noting that
the complaint does not specify the amount of damages
requested, Miao asserts that the “the jurisdictional
amount is plainly satisfied by the extensive damages sought
in the complaint, ” noting that Yue “seeks
substantial contract and tort damages on his first two
claims, and restitution on his third claim, ” as well
as “exemplary and/or punitive damages.” Notice of
Removal ¶¶ 6-10. According to Miao, “it is
more likely than not that [Yue] is seeking in excess of $75,
000, exclusive of interest and costs.” Id. at
moves to remand the case to state court on the ground that
the removal was untimely under 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b),
which generally requires a party to remove a case within 30
days after receiving the complaint. Miao moves to dismiss the
complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. In the
alternative, he moves to transfer the case to the United
States District Court for the District of South Carolina.
defendant may remove a civil action filed in state court if
the action could have originally been filed in federal court.
28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). If at any time before judgment it
appears that the district court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction over a case previously removed from state court,
the case must be remanded. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c); see
also Valdez v. Allstate Ins. Co., 372 F.3d 1115, 1117
(9th Cir. 2004) (courts are “obligated to consider sua
sponte whether [they] have subject matter
jurisdiction”). The Ninth Circuit “strictly
construe[s] the removal statute against removal
jurisdiction.” Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d
564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). “Federal jurisdiction must be
rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in
the first instance.” Id. “The
‘strong' presumption against removal jurisdiction
means that the defendant always has the burden of
establishing that removal is proper.” Id.
removed the case to this court, relying on diversity as the
basis for federal subject matter jurisdiction. District
courts have original jurisdiction over “all civil
actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or
value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs” and
the action is between: “(1) citizens of different
States; (2) citizens of a State and citizens or subjects of a
foreign state; (3) citizens of different States and in which
citizens or subjects of a foreign state are additional
parties; and (4) a foreign state . . . as plaintiff and
citizen of a State or of different States.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332(a). The court concludes that Miao has failed to
show that the requirements of section 1332(a) are satisfied
here; specifically, he has failed to show that the matter in
controversy exceeds $75, 000 and has failed to show complete
diversity between the parties.
amount in controversy is “an estimate of the total
amount in dispute, not a prospective assessment” of a
defendant's liability. Lewis v. Verizon Comms.,
Inc., 627 F.3d 395, 400 (9th Cir. 2010). Where the
complaint does not specify the amount in controversy and it
is unclear whether the plaintiff is seeking more than the
jurisdictional minimum, “the defendant bears the burden
of actually proving the facts to ...