United States District Court, C.D. California
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND
D. WRIGHT, II UNITED STATE DISTRICT JUDGE.
Brittney Mejico (“Mejico”) moves to remand this
action to the Superior Court of California for the County of
San Bernadino. (Pl.'s Mot. to Remand (“Mot.”)
1, ECF No. 9.) For the reasons that follow, the Court
GRANTS Mejico's Motion.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
November 8, 2018, Plaintiff filed this action against
Defendant Online Labels, Inc. (“Online Labels”)
in the Superior Court of California for the County of San
Bernardino. (See Notice of Removal Ex. 1
(“Compl.”), ECF No. 1-1.) Through her Complaint,
Mejico alleges a single claim for violation of
California's Unruh Civil Rights Act (“Unruh
Act”), California Civil Code section 51, et
seq. (Compl. ¶¶ 28- 34.)
is permanently blind and states that Online Labels's
website includes barriers that make it difficult for
individuals who are visually-impaired to navigate. (Compl.
¶ 7.) As such, Mejico claims that she was denied the
full use and enjoyment of Online Labels's website in
violation of the Unruh Act. (Compl. ¶ 7.) Mejico seeks
statutory damages, attorneys' fees and costs, and
preliminary and permanent injunctive relief requiring Online
Labels to adopt and implement website accessibility policies
to ensure that its website is fully and equally accessible to
the visually-impaired. (Compl. ¶¶ 32-34.)
December 19, 2018, Online Labels filed a Notice of Removal
under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1441, and 1446, removing
this case to federal court based on federal diversity
jurisdiction. (Notice of Removal 1-2.) On January 11, 2019,
Mejico filed a Motion to Remand on the basis that the amount
in controversy is insufficient to warrant removal on
diversity grounds. (Mot. 1-2.)
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, having
subject-matter jurisdiction only over matters authorized by
the Constitution and Congress. See e.g., U.S. Const.
Art. III, § 2, cl. 1; Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins.
Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). An action filed in
state court may be removed to federal district court if the
federal court would have had original jurisdiction over the
suit. 28 U.S.C. § 1441. Federal courts have original
jurisdiction where an action arises under federal law,
id. § 1331, or where each plaintiff's
citizenship is diverse from each defendant's citizenship
and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, id.
strictly construe the removal statute against removal
jurisdiction. Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566
(9th Cir. 1992) (per curiam). Therefore, “federal
jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the
right of removal in the first instance.” Id.
This “strong presumption” against removal demands
that a court resolve all ambiguity in favor of remand to
state court. Id. (quoting Nishimoto v.
Federman-Bachrach & Assocs., 903 F.2d 709, 712 n.3
(9th Cir. 1990)); see Matheson v. Progressive Specialty
Ins. Co., 319 F.3d 1089, 1090 (9th Cir. 2003)
(“Where doubt regarding the right to removal exists, a
case should be remanded to state court.”).
of an action is proper on the basis of an amount in
controversy “if the district court finds, by the
preponderance of the evidence, that the amount in controversy
exceeds [$75, 000].” 28 U.S.C. § 1446(c)(2). A
defendant's notice of removal “need include only a
plausible allegation that the amount in controversy exceeds
the jurisdictional threshold.” Dart Cherokee Basin
Operating Co. v. Owens, 135 S.Ct. 547, 554 (2014).
However, a defendant's bald recitation that the amount in
controversy exceeds the jurisdiction threshold,
“without the defendant identifying any specific factual
allegations or provisions in the complaint which might
support that proposition, should provoke sua sponte
remand.” Gaus, 980 F.2d at 567.
actions seeking non-monetary relief, “the amount in
controversy is measured by the value of the object of the
litigation.” Hunt v. Wash. State Apple Advert.
Comm'n, 432 U.S. 333, 347 (1977). Additionally,
where cases are removed from state court to federal court,
“[t]here is a strong presumption that the plaintiff has
not claimed a large amount in order to confer jurisdiction on
a federal court.” Gaus, 980 F.2d at 566
(quoting St. Paul Mercury Indem. Co. v. Red Cab Co.,
303 U.S. 283, 288- 90, (1983)); see also Brown v.
Citibank USA, N.A., No. 2:14-CV-07695-CAS-VBK, 2014 WL
5810333, at *3 (C.D. Cal. Nov. 7, 2014) (internal quotation
marks omitted) (“[I]f plaintiff chooses to ask for less
than the jurisdictional amount in a state court complaint,
absent a showing of bad faith only the sum actually demanded
is in controversy even though the pleader's motivation is
to defeat removal.”).
evaluating the amount in controversy, the court may consider
“facts presented in the removal petition as well as any
summary-judgement-type evidence.” Matheson,
319 F.3d at 1090 (internal quotation marks omitted).
“Conclusory allegations as to the amount in controversy
are insufficient.” Id. at 1090-91. Ultimately,
the partying seeking removal must overcome “the
‘strong presumption' against removal
jurisdiction” by “setting forth, in the removal
petition itself, the underlying facts supporting its
assertion that the amount in controversy exceeds [$75,
000].” Gaus, 980 F.2d at 567.