United States District Court, C.D. California
PRESENT: THE HONORABLE PHILIP S. GUTIERREZ, UNITED STATES
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
(In Chambers):Order DENYING Plaintiff's motion to
the Court is Plaintiff Teausha Moffett's
(“Plaintiff”) motion to remand. See Dkt.
# 10 (“Mot.”). Defendants Recording
Radio Film Connection, Inc. (“Radio Connection”)
and James Petulla (collectively “Defendants”)
oppose this motion, see Dkt. # 12
(“Opp.”), and Plaintiff replied,
see Dkt. # 13 (“Reply”). With
the Court's leave, Defendants filed a sur-reply
responding to arguments made for the first time in the reply
brief. See Dkt. # 16
(“Sur-Reply”). The Court finds the
matter appropriate for decision without oral argument.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; L.R. 7-15. Having considered
the moving papers, the Court DENIES the motion.
operate an “online college” that purports to
provide training for individuals seeking work in the
“recording, film, broadcasting and culinary
industries.” See Complaint, Dkt. # 1-1
(“Compl.”), ¶ 1. Plaintiff enrolled
in Defendants' programs in 2012 and 2017. See
id. ¶ 15. She now alleges that Defendants
falsely represented the nature of the programs and the
benefits that could follow from completing them. For example,
Plaintiff contends that Defendants falsely advertised that
enrollees would receive “‘one-on-one' private
training sessions with successful industry mentors”
when no one-on-one sessions were actually provided. See
Id. ¶¶ 4-5. She further alleges that
Defendants overstated their purported 72 percent job
placement rate. See Id. ¶ 9.
March 8, 2019, Plaintiff filed this case in Los Angeles
Superior Court on behalf of a putative class of “all
persons who enrolled in the Programs from Radio Connection in
California four years prior to the filing of this complaint
through the present.” See Id. ¶ 47. The
complaint asserts ten causes of action, including contract
and fraud-related claims and claims for violations of the
consumer protection statutes of all fifty states and the
District of Columbia. See generally id.
April 25, 2019, Defendants timely removed the case to this
Court, asserting federal jurisdiction under the Class Action
Fairness Act (“CAFA”) and, alternatively, on the
basis of traditional diversity jurisdiction over
Plaintiff's individual claim. See Notice of
Removal, Dkt. # 1 (“NOR”),
¶¶ 5-43. Plaintiff now moves to remand, arguing
both that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over
the case and that a forum selection clause in the
parties' contract requires the case to be heard in state
court. See generally Mot.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, possessing only
that power authorized by Constitution and statute.”
Gunn v. Minton, 568 U.S. 251, 256 (2013) (internal
quotation marks omitted). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441, a
defendant may remove a civil action from state court to
federal district court only if the federal court has subject
matter jurisdiction over the case. See City of Chi. v.
Int'l Coll. of Surgeons, 522 U.S. 156, 163 (1997)
(“The propriety of removal thus depends on whether the
case originally could have been filed in federal
court.”). The case shall be remanded to state court if
at any time before final judgment it appears a removing court
lacks subject matter jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1447(c); Int'l Primate Prot. League v.
Adm'rs of Tulane Educ. Fund, 500 U.S. 72, 87 (1991).
Court first addresses whether it has subject matter
jurisdiction before turning to Plaintiff's argument about
the forum selection clause.
provides federal jurisdiction over class actions in which (1)
the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million, (2) there is
minimal diversity between the parties, and (3) the number of
proposed class members is at least 100. 28 U.S.C. §
1332(d)(2), (d)(5)(B). “Congress designed the terms of
CAFA specifically to permit a defendant to remove certain
class or mass actions into federal court . . . [and] intended
CAFA to be interpreted expansively.” Ibarra v.
Manheim Invs., Inc., 775 F.3d 1193, 1197 (9th Cir.
2015). While “no antiremoval presumption attends cases
invoking CAFA, ” Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co.,
LLC v. Owens, 135 S.Ct. 547, 554 (2014), “the
burden of establishing removal jurisdiction remains, as
before, on the proponent of federal jurisdiction.”
Abrego Abrego v. Dow Chem. Co., 443 F.3d 676, 685
(9th Cir. 2006).
CAFA, a defendant removing a case must file a notice of
removal containing a “short and plain statement of the
grounds for removal.” Dart Cherokee, 135 S.Ct.
at 553. In Dart Cherokee, the Supreme Cout clarified
that “a defendant's notice of removal need include
only a plausible allegation that the amount in controversy
exceeds the jurisdictional threshold, ” unless the
defendant's assertion is contested by the plaintiff.
Id. at 554. Where, as here, a defendant's
asserted amount in controversy is contested,
“[e]vidence establishing the amount is required.”
Id. “In such a case, both sides submit proof
and the court decides, by a preponderance of the evidence,
whether the amount-in-controversy requirement has ...