United States District Court, C.D. California
ORDER Re: MOTION TO REMAND
Fernando M. Olguin United States District Judge
reviewed and considered all the briefing filed with respect
to plaintiff Daniel Ramirez's (“plaintiff”)
Motion to Remand and for Attorney's Fees and Costs (Dkt.
27, “Motion”), the court concludes that oral
argument is not necessary to resolve the Motion, see
Fe d. R. Civ. P. 78; Local Rule 7-15; Willis v. Pac. Mar.
Ass'n, 244 F.3d 675, 684 n. 2 (9th Cir. 2001), and
concludes as follows.
instant case was first removed to this court nearly two years
ago. See Ramirez v. Samsung Electronics Am., Inc.,
Case No. 17-7684 FMO (RAOx) (C.D. Cal. 2017) (“Ramirez
I”). Ramirez I involved a lawsuit between plaintiff and
a number of Samsung entities. (See Ramirez I, Dkt.
1-1, Complaint at ¶¶ 3-20). Among the entities
plaintiff sued in the Los Angeles County Superior Court were
two California companies, Samsung SDI America, Inc.
(“SDIA”), and Samsung C&T America, Inc.
(“C&T”). (See id. at ¶¶ 5,
13). Plaintiff is himself a citizen of California. (See
id. at ¶ 2).
Ramirez I, defendant Samsung Electronics America, Inc.
(“SEA”), removed on the basis of diversity of
citizenship. (See Ramirez I, Dkt. 1, Notice of
Removal at ¶ 9). To support removal in Ramirez I, SEA
argued that SDIA and C&T were sham defendants. (See
id. at ¶¶ 15-16). However, the court rejected
SEA's argument, and remanded the matter back to state
court. (Ramirez I, Dkt. 43, Court's Order of November 27,
2017, at 7).
litigating in state court for a number of months, defendant
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (“SEC”) removed the
instant action from the state court for the second time.
(See Dkt. 1, Notice of Removal (“NOR”)
at ECF 2).
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. They possess only
that power authorized by Constitution and statute[.]”
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S.
375, 377, 114 S.Ct. 1673, 1675 (1994). The courts are
presumed to lack jurisdiction unless the contrary appears
affirmatively from the record. See DaimlerChrysler Corp.
v. Cuno, 547 U.S. 332, 342 n. 3, 126 S.Ct. 1854, 1861
(2006). Federal courts have a duty to examine jurisdiction
sua sponte before proceeding to the merits of a
case, see Ruhrgas AG v. Marathon Oil Co., 526 U.S.
574, 583, 119 S.Ct. 1563, 1569 (1999), “even in the
absence of a challenge from any party.” Arbaugh v.
Y & H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 514, 126 S.Ct. 1235, 1244
general, “any civil action brought in a State court of
which the district courts of the United States have original
jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant or the
defendants, to the district court[.]” 28 U.S.C. §
1441(a). A removing defendant bears the burden of
establishing that removal is proper. See Gaus v. Miles,
Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (“The
strong presumption against removal jurisdiction means that
the defendant always has the burden of establishing that
removal is proper.”) (internal quotation marks
omitted); Abrego Abrego v. The Dow Chem. Co., 443
F.3d 676, 684 (9th Cir. 2006) (per curiam) (noting
the “longstanding, near-canonical rule that the burden
on removal rests with the removing defendant”).
Moreover, if there is any doubt regarding the existence of
subject matter jurisdiction, the court must resolve those
doubts in favor of remanding the action to state court.
See Gaus, 980 F.2d at 566 (“Federal
jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the
right of removal in the first instance.”). Indeed,
“[i]f at any time before final judgment it appears that
the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the
case shall be remanded.” 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c);
see Kelton Arms Condo. Owners Ass'n, Inc. v.
Homestead Ins. Co., 346 F.3d 1190, 1192 (9th Cir. 2003)
(“Subject matter jurisdiction may not be waived, and,
indeed, we have held that the district court must remand if
it lacks jurisdiction.”); Washington v. United
Parcel Serv., Inc., 2009 WL 1519894, *1 (C.D. Cal. 2009)
(a district court may remand an action where the court finds
that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction either by motion or
case was commenced in the state court on October 16, 2017.
(See Ramirez I, Dkt. 1-1, Complaint at ECF 12).
Title 28 U.S.C. § 1446(c) provides that “[a] case
may not be removed under subsection (b)(3) on the basis of
jurisdiction conferred by section 1332 more than 1 year after
commencement of the action, unless the district court finds
that the plaintiff has acted in bad faith in order to prevent
a defendant from removing the action.”
SEC removed the instant action “more than 1 year after
commencement of the action, ” 28 U.S.C. § 1446(c),
it argues that plaintiff engaged in “bad faith
manipulation of his pleadings” to prevent an earlier
removal. (Dkt. 1, NOR at ¶ 32). Specifically, it argues
that SDIA and C&T - who are named as defendants in the
operative second amended complaint (“SAC”),
(see Dkt. 4-49, SAC at ¶¶ 8, 13) -
“were fraudulently joined as sham defendants in
Plaintiff's bad faith attempt to defeat diversity
jurisdiction.” (Dkt. 1, NOR at ¶ 26). As proof, it
points to the fact that the state court granted summary
judgment against both SDIA and C&T. (See i d. at
¶¶ 15-16, 32). SEC also notes that plaintiff
“voluntarily submitted a request for dismissal as to
SDIA twelve days after the one-year anniversary of the filing
of the initial Complaint, ” and also declined to mount
a defense against the summary judgment motion directed at
SDIA. (Id. at ¶ 34). Finally, SEC contends that
plaintiff “failed to take any meaningful discovery
against [C&T] other than to send basic written discovery
that provided the same information originally provided to
this Court by” two declarations. (Id. at
bad faith exception, as distinct from the doctrine of
fraudulent joinder, applies to plaintiffs who joined - and
then, after one year, dismissed - defendants whom they could
keep in the suit, but that they did not want to keep in the
suit, except as removal spoilers.” Heller v. Am.
States Ins. Co., 2016 WL 1170891, *2 (C.D. Cal. 2016)
(alterations, emphasis, and internal quotation marks
omitted). The court is unpersuaded that SEC has “met
[its] burden of showing Plaintiff acted in bad faith to
prevent removal.” Jones v. Ramos Trinidad, 380
F.Supp.3d 516, 523 (E.D. La. 2019). To begin with, the mere
fact that plaintiff assented to dismissal of SDIA 12 days
after the action's one-year anniversary, (see
Dkt. 1, NOR at ¶ 34), does not establish plaintiff's
bad faith. See, e.g., Stroman v. State
Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 2019 WL 1760588, *3 (W.D.
Wash. 2019) (noting that “courts have also found that
the dismissal of a non-diverse defendant thirteen days after
the commencement of the action insufficient to signify that
the plaintiff acted in bad faith, ” and concluding
that “the dismissal of [non-diverse defendant] one year
and two days after the commencement of the state court
action, by itself, does not establish Plaintiffs' alleged
bad faith in preventing removal”) (citing Weber v.
Ritz Carlton Hotel Co., 2018 WL 4491210, *4 (N.D. Cal.
2018)). Moreover, as plaintiff explains, he consented to
dismissal of SDIA because “discovery revealed that SDIA
was not involved in the design, manufacture, or distribution
of the Samsung S7 Edge or its lithium-ion battery[.]”
(Dkt. 27, Motion at 7).
this, defendants' argument that SDIA and C&T were
added to this action in bad faith is seriously undermined by
the court's conclusion in Ramirez I that neither was a
sham defendant. (See Ramirez I, Dkt. 43, Court's
Order of November 27, 2017). Indeed, the court explicitly
found that “[e]ven assuming [SDIA and C&T] did not
provide the battery or phone at issue, plaintiff has still
alleged a colorable claim against them.” (Id.
at 3) (internal citation omitted). Even though SDIA and
C&T were later dismissed on “summary judgment after
the benefit of discovery, ” it is not clear to the
court why it should disturb its earlier holding, ...