United States District Court, C.D. California
PRESENT: THE HONORABLE DOLLY M. GEE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT
IN CHAMBERS - ORDER RE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND
Teresa Rivas claims that she suffered injuries when she
slipped and fell on a puddle of water on the floor of a
Target store in November 2017. On February 5, 2019, Plaintiff
filed a Complaint in San Bernardino Superior Court against
Target Corporation and 50 Doe Defendants. She asserts claims
for general negligence and premises liability. Notice of
Removal, Ex. A [Doc. # 1-1 (“Complaint”)].
According to Plaintiff, Defendants negligently failed to keep
the premises safe and warn her of the puddle on which she
slipped. [Doc. # 9 (“Motion to Remand” or
“MTR”) at 3.] Plaintiff claims that, as a result
of her injuries, she incurred expenses for medical treatment.
after she filed the Complaint, Target contacted
Plaintiff's counsel to ask whether Plaintiff's
damages exceed $75, 000. Opp'n, Ex. A at 8-9 [Doc. # 15].
Plaintiff estimated that her damages exceeded that amount.
Removal Notice, Ex. D at 18. Two days later, on May 2, 2019,
Plaintiff substituted Octavio Aguilar, the Target store
manager at the time of the incident, as a Defendant in place
of one of the Doe Defendants she originally named. MTR, Ex. A
at 4 [Doc. # 9-1].
14, 2019, Defendant Target removed the action, alleging that
this Court has diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
section 1332 because Plaintiff is a California citizen,
Target is citizen of Minnesota, and the amount in controversy
exceeds $75, 000. Notice of Removal at ¶¶ 2-5. On
May 31, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Remand based on the
theory that Defendant Aguilar, a California citizen, destroys
diversity jurisdiction. [Doc. # 9.]. The MTR is fully
briefed. [Doc. ## 15 (“Opp'n”), 16
(“Reply”).]. Having considered the parties'
written submissions, the Court GRANTS the MTR.
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. section 1332 requires that the
parties to a suit be of diverse citizenship. Diaz v.
Davis (In re Digimarc Corp. Derivative Litig.), 549 F.3d
1223, 1234 (9th Cir. 2008) (citing Strawbridge v.
Curtiss, 7 U.S. 267, 267 (1806)) (“Diversity
jurisdiction requires complete diversity between the
parties-each defendant must be a citizen of a different state
from each plaintiff.”). There is a “strong
presumption against removal jurisdiction, ” and courts
must reject it “if there is any doubt as to the right
of removal in the first instance.” Geographic
Expeditions, Inc. v. Estate of Lhotka ex rel. Lhotka,
599 F.3d 1102, 1107 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting Gaus v.
Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (per
curiam)) (internal quotation marks omitted); Luther
v. Countrywide Home Loans Servicing LP, 533 F.3d 1031,
1034 (9th Cir. 2008) (any “doubt is resolved against
removability”). The party “seeking removal has
the burden to establish that removal is proper” and the
“burden of establishing federal subject matter
jurisdiction.” Id.; Marin Gen. Hosp. v.
Modesto & Empire Traction Co., 581 F.3d 941, 944
(9th Cir. 2009) (citing Toumajian v. Frailey, 135
F.3d 648, 652 (9th Cir. 1998)).
joined defendants do not defeat removal on diversity grounds.
Ritchey v. Upjohn Drug Co., 139 F.3d 1313, 1318 (9th
Cir. 1998). A non-diverse defendant is fraudulently joined,
“and the defendant's presence in the lawsuit is
ignored for purposes of determining diversity, ‘[i]f
the plaintiff fails to state a cause of action against a
resident defendant, and the failure is obvious according to
the settled rules of the state.'” Morris v.
Princess Cruises, Inc., 236 F.3d 1061, 1067 (9th Cir.
2001) (quoting McCabe v. General Foods Corp., 811
F.2d 1336, 1339 (9th Cir. 1987)).
contesting removal, a plaintiff is limited to the allegations
stated in its complaint. See Ritchey, 139 F.3d at
1318 (To determine whether joinder of a defendant is
fraudulent, district courts must “look only to a
plaintiff's pleadings to determine removability”
and “will determine the ‘existence of federal
jurisdiction . . . solely by an examination of the
plaintiff's case.”) (citations omitted). When
opposing remand, however, a defendant may introduce evidence
beyond the pleadings to establish fraudulent joinder.
Id. (citing McCabe, 811 F.2d at 1339). A
defendant opposing remand must “show that there is no
possibility that the plaintiff could prevail on any cause of
action it brought against the non-diverse defendant. Remand
must be granted unless the defendant shows that the plaintiff
would not be afforded leave to amend his complaint to cure
the purported deficiency.” Padilla v. AT&T
Corp., 697 F.Supp.2d 1156, 1159 (C.D. Cal. 2009)
(internal citations omitted); see also Rangel v.
Bridgestone Retail Operations, LLC, 200 F.Supp.3d 1024,
1033 (C.D. Cal. 2016) (same).