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Magana v. Sandvik Mining and Construction USA, LLC

United States District Court, C.D. California

August 29, 2019

SALVADOR MAGANA and LAURA MAGANA, Plaintiffs,
v.
SANDVIK MINING AND CONSTRUCTION USA, LLC; UNITED SCREENING AND CRUSHING, INC.; EXTEC, INC.; and DOES 5 through 100, inclusive, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO REMAND [27]

          OTIS D. WRIGHT, II UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On May 11, 2017, Plaintiffs Salvador Magana and Laura Magana (“Plaintiffs”) filed this personal injury action in the Superior Court of California for the County of Ventura. (Notice of Removal Ex. A (“Compl.”), ECF No. 1-1.) Prior to the current defendants appearing, Defendant Sandvik, Inc., [1] (“Sandvik”) removed this matter based on federal diversity jurisdiction. (See Notice of Removal ¶¶ 9, 13, 17, ECF No. 1.) Plaintiffs move to remand. (Mot. to Remand (“Mot.”), ECF No. 27.) For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS Magana's Motion and REMANDS this action to state court.[2]

         II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On May 13, 2015, Plaintiff Salvador Magana worked as a laborer for Santa Paula Materials, Inc. (“Santa Paula”). (Decl. of William M. Grewe (“Grewe Decl.”) ¶ 2, ECF No. 27-1.) Plaintiff Laura Magana is the lawful spouse of Plaintiff Salvador Magana. (Second Am. Compl. (“SAC”) ¶ 16, ECF No. 25.) Mr. Magana used an “S5 Screener” machine to process rocks and materials. (SAC ¶ 2.) The machine caught his arm, pulled his arm into the machine, and severed his arm from his body. (Mot. 2.)

         On May 11, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a complaint against Mr. Magana's employer, Santa Paula Materials, Inc., in the Superior Court of California for the County of Ventura, asserting claims for negligence, strict product liability, failure to warn, breach of warranty, and loss of consortium claims. (SAC.) Upon learning that Santa Paula was not liable for the injury, Plaintiffs filed a request for dismissal. (Mot. 2)

         On November 26, 2018, the Department of Occupational Safety and Health informed Plaintiffs that Extec, Inc. (“Extec”) manufactured, distributed, packaged, labeled, and warranted the subject S5 Screener. (SAC ¶ 3.) Plaintiffs believe that the S5 Screener was manufactured by Extec sometime in 2006 and subsequently sold or distributed to Santa Paula. (Mot. 3.) In 2007, a Sandvik entity acquired and merged with Extec. (Mot. 3.) In 2009, Extec filed a Certification of Surrender of Right to Transact Intrastate Business with the California Secretary of State. (Grewe Decl. ¶ 11, Ex. 9.)

         On December 18, 2018, Plaintiffs filed their First Amended Complaint in state court adding a theory of successor liability. (Grewe Decl. ¶ 13.) On December 28, 2018, Plaintiffs filed a DOE Amendment naming Sandvik as Defendant DOE 1. (Grewe Decl. ¶ 14.) On January 30, 2019, Sandvik, removed this matter to federal court based on federal diversity jurisdiction because (1) Sandvik is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in New Jersey; (2) Plaintiffs are citizens of California; and (3) the amount in controversy exceeded $75, 000. (Mot. 6.)

         In response to a Motion to Dismiss filed by Sandvik, Inc., the parties met and conferred. (Grewe Decl. ¶ 18.) Plaintiffs learned Extec merged with Sandvik Mining (“Sandvik Mining”) in 2009. (Mot. 8.) Additionally, Plaintiffs also learned that Santa Paula obtained the S5 Screener from United Screening and Crushing, Inc. (“United Screening”). (Id.) United Screening is a California corporation with its principal place of business in California. (Id.) After informal discovery and discussion with Sandvik's attorney, Plaintiffs learned Sandvik was not a proper defendant and dismissed Sandvik from the matter. (Id.)

         On March 28, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a Second Amended Complaint naming Sandvik Mining and Construction USA, LLC; United Screening and Crushing, Inc.; and Extec, Inc. as Defendants. (Mot.) Plaintiffs now moves to remand on the basis that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. (Mot.)

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal 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). A suit filed in state court may be removed to federal court only if the federal court would have had original jurisdiction over the suit. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). 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. § 1332(a).

         Courts 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.”).

         Remand may be ordered for lack of subject matter jurisdiction or for “any defect in removal procedure.” 28 U.S.C § 1447(c). Lack of subject matter jurisdiction may be raised “at any time before final judgement.” 28 U.S.C § 1447(c). If at any time before a final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter ...


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