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B.C. v. Ngo

United States District Court, C.D. California

July 2, 2019

B.C., a minor, by and through his Guardian Ad Litem Christopher Coleman; and CHRISTOPHER COLEMAN, Guardian Ad Litem, Plaintiffs,
v.
VINH S. NGO; COURTENAY NGO; BALFOUR BEATTY COMMUNITIES, LLC; and DOES, 1 through 10, Defendants.

          ORDER RE: PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND CASE [34]

          HONORABLE RONALD S.W. LEW, SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff B.C. (“Plaintiff”), a minor, by and through his Guardian Ad Litem, Christopher Coleman, brings this Action against Vihn S. Ngo; Courtenay Ngo; and Balfour Beatty Communities, LLC (collectively, “Defendants”) arising from a dog attack. Currently before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Remand (“Motion”) [34-1]. Having reviewed all papers submitted pertaining to this Motion, the Court NOW FINDS AND RULES AS FOLLOWS: the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         The relevant facts of this case have already been laid out by the Court in its prior Order Granting Plaintiff's Motion to Remand (“First Remand Order”) [24]. To orient the discussion, the Court briefly repeats the facts here.

         Plaintiff is a minor. First Notice of Removal, Ex. A (“Compl.”) ¶ 5, ECF No. 1. He and his Guardian Ad Litem are citizens of California. First Notice of Removal ¶ 4. Defendant Balfour Beatty Communities, LLC (“Balfour”) is fully owned by Balfour Beatty Investments, Inc., a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Pennsylvania. Id. Balfour claims that Defendants Vinh S. Ngo and Courtenay Ngo (collectively, the “Ngos”) are citizens of Hawaii. Id.

         The Ngos kept a “chow type” dog at their residence at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Compl. 10 ¶ 2. Balfour and the Ngos “owned, leased, managed, supervised, maintained, and controlled the above-mentioned premises.” Id. at 11. On December 4, 2016, while passing by the residence, Plaintiff was attacked and bitten multiple times by the dog. Id. at 10 ¶ 3. As a result, Plaintiff suffered mental anguish and property damage and sustained physical injuries, including abrasions, lacerations, and permanent scarring. Id. at 10 ¶ 4. Plaintiff needed hospital and medical care, as well as rehabilitation. Id.

         B. Procedural Background

         On May 23, 2018, Plaintiff filed his Complaint [1] against Defendants in Santa Barbara Superior Court. Plaintiff claims that the Ngos are strictly liable and that all Defendants were negligent and are liable for punitive damages.

         Defendant Balfour first removed this Action [1] to this Court on July 6, 2018 on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. On August 24, 2018, the Court ordered that the case be remanded back to the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Barbara, because Balfour failed to meet its burden of proving that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000 [24]. On March 5, 2019, Balfour filed a Second Notice of Removal, claiming that new information establishes that the Court has jurisdiction over the case based on diversity and federal question since the attack occurred on a federal enclave. See Second Notice of Removal, ECF. No. 27, ¶¶ 2-4. On April 3, 2019 Plaintiff filed the instant Motion [34-1]. Balfour timely opposed [36] on April 23, 2019. Plaintiff timely replied [38] on April 30, 2019.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         Civil actions may be removed from state court if the federal court has original jurisdiction. See Syngenta Crop Prot., Inc. v. Henson, 537 U.S. 28, 33 (2002) (“Under the plain terms of § 1441(a), in order properly to remove [an] action pursuant to that provision, . . . original subject-matter jurisdiction [must] lie[] in the federal courts.”). Diversity jurisdiction exists in all civil actions between citizens of different states where the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. There must be complete diversity of citizenship, meaning “each of the plaintiffs must be a citizen of a different state than each of the defendants.” Morris v. Princess Cruises, Inc., 236 F.3d 1061, 1067 (9th Cir. 2001) (citing Caterpillar Inc. v. Lewis, 519 U.S. 61, 68 (1996)). Federal question jurisdiction exists in “all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

         “The burden of establishing jurisdiction falls on the party invoking the removal statute, which is strictly construed against removal.” Sullivan v. First Affiliated Sec., Inc.,813 F.2d 1368, 1371 (9th Cir. 1987) (internal citations omitted). Courts resolve all ambiguities “in favor of remand to state court.” Hunter v. Philip Morris USA,582 F.3d 1039, 1042 (9th Cir. 2009) (citing Gaus v. Miles, Inc.,980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992)). A removed case must be remanded “[i]f ...


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