United States District Court, E.D. California
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S
RENEWED MOTION TO REMAND. (ECF NO. 22) AND PLAINTIFF'S
REQUEST FOR A TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER (ECF NO.
LAWRENCE J. O'NEILL UNITED STATES CHIEF DISTRICT JUDGE
case concerns claims brought by Central Valley Medical Group,
Inc. (“CVMG”) against Independent Physician
Associates Medical Group, Inc., dba AllCare
(“AllCare”) and Does 1 through 10. This case was
originally filed in Stanislaus County Superior Court on March
19, 2019. ECF No. 1, Ex. A. On March 27, 2019, AllCare filed
a notice of removal to this Court. ECF No. 1. On April 5,
2019, CVMG filed a motion to remand, followed by an
opposition from AllCare on April 22, 2019 and a reply from
CVMG on April 29, 2019. ECF Nos. 6, 8, 9. That motion to
remand was denied without prejudice on June 14, 2019. ECF No.
20. On July 8, 2019, CVMG filed a first amended complaint
(“FAC”). ECF No. 21. On July 15, 2019, CVMG filed
a renewed motion to remand, including a request for frees and
costs. ECF No. 22. The same day, CVMG also filed an ex
parte request for a shortened briefing schedule, which
the Court granted in part. ECF No. 30. On July 22, 2019, CVMG
filed a motion for a temporary restraining order. ECF No. 31.
Due to the urgency of CVMG's request for a TRO, the Court
issued an order notifying the parties it would rule on the
motion to remand without a reply. ECF No. 32. AllCare filed
its opposition to the renewed motion to remand on July 24,
2019. ECF No. 34. Pursuant to Local Rule 230(g), the Court
finds this matter suitable for decision on the papers
following reasons, CVMG's motion to remand is
GRANTED. CVMG's request for a temporary
restraining order is DENIED as moot.
Court incorporates by reference its prior recitation of the
facts of this case. See ECF No. 20 at 1-2.
CVMG's amended complaint pleads a significant number of
additional factual and legal bases for its claims. ECF No.
21. Most pertinent to this motion, CVMG amended its Unfair
Business Practices cause of action to remove the references
to federal antitrust law, and instead pleaded as the
necessary predicate violation for the § 17200 Unfair
Competition Law (“UCL”) unfair business practices
claim that AllCare's conduct “offends the policies
of free competition and free trade, and significantly
threatens or harms competition.” Id. ¶
STANDARD OF DECISION
defendant may remove a civil case from state court to federal
court if the action presents either a federal question or the
action's parties are citizens of different states and the
amount in controversy is over $75, 000. 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1331, 1441. Subject-matter jurisdiction (in the
form of either federal question or diversity jurisdiction)
may be challenged at any time prior to final judgment.
Grupo Dataflux v. Atlas Global Group, L.P., 541 U.S.
567, 571 (2004).
artful pleading doctrine prevents a plaintiff from
circumventing federal jurisdiction by embedding federal
issues within state law causes of action. See Franchise
Tax Bd. of State of Cal. v. Const. Laborers Vacation Trust
for So. Cal., 463 U.S. 1, 14 (1983) (“Even though
state law creates appellant's causes of action, its case
might still ‘arise under' the laws of the United
States if a well-pleaded complaint established that its right
to relief under state law requires resolution of a
substantial question of federal law in dispute between the
parties.”); Grable & Sons Metal Prod., Inc. v.
Darue Eng'g & Mfg., 545 U.S. 308, 312 (2005)
(“[F]ederal question jurisdiction will lie over
state-law claims that implicate significant federal
issues.”). The Ninth Circuit has elaborated that
the artful pleading doctrine allows federal courts to retain
jurisdiction over state law claims that implicate a
substantial federal question. A state law claim falls within
this . . . category when: (1) “a substantial, disputed
question of federal law is a necessary element of . . . the
well-pleaded state claim, ” . . . or the claim is an
“inherently federal claim” articulated in
state-law terms, . . . or (2) “the right to relief
depends on the resolution of a substantial, disputed federal
question . . . .” A careful reading of artful pleading
cases shows that no specific recipe exists for a court to
alchemize a state claim into a federal claim-a court must
look at a complex group of factors in any particular case to
decide whether a state claim actually “arises”
under federal law.
Lippitt v. Raymond James Fin. Servs., Inc., 340 F.3d
1033, 1042-43 (9th Cir. 2003), as amended (Sept. 22,
2003) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted);
see also Gunn v. Minton, 568 U.S. 251, 258 (2013)
(explaining substantial federal question jurisdiction will
lie “if a federal issue is: (1) necessarily raised, (2)
actually disputed, (3) substantial, and (4) capable of
resolution in federal court without disrupting the
federal-state balance approved by Congress.”);
Grable, 545 U.S. at 312 (explaining substantial
federal question doctrine “captures the commonsense
notion that a federal court ought to be able to hear claims
recognized under state law that nonetheless turn on
substantial questions of federal law”).
have fashioned a number of proxies to determine whether a
state claim depends on the resolution of a federal question
to such an extent as to trigger subject matter
jurisdiction.” Lippitt, 340 F.3d at 1045. In
evaluating whether jurisdiction exists, a court must
determine if the federal question goes to the gravamen of a
plaintiff's claims, or, in other words, “[i]s the
federal question ‘basic' and ‘necessary'
as opposed to ‘collateral' and ‘merely
possible'? Is the federal question ‘pivotal' as
opposed to merely ‘incidental'? Is the federal
question ‘direct and essential' as opposed to
‘attenuated?”' Id. (internal
citations omitted). Nevertheless, “the mere presence of
a federal issue in a state cause of action does not
automatically confer federal-question jurisdiction.”
Id. at 1040.
a plaintiff may be able to defeat federal jurisdiction if an
“alternative and independent” violation of state
antitrust policies is offered as a basis for an unfair
competition claim, even if a federal basis is also offered.
See Rains v. Criterion Systems, Inc., 80 F.3d 339,
346 (9th Cir. 1996) (“When a claim can be supported by
alternative and independent theories-one of which is a state
law theory and one of which is a federal law theory-federal
question jurisdiction does not attach because federal law is
not a necessary element of the claim.”).