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Paine v. Sunflower Farmers Markets, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 3, 2019

RENAY PAINE, Plaintiff,
v.
SUNFLOWER FARMERS MARKETS, LLC; SPROUTS FARMERS MARKET; DOES 1 through 50, inclusive, Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND AND REQUEST FOR ATTORNEYS FEES AND COSTS

          JOHN A. MENDEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On August 20, 2018, Renay Payne filed a negligence suit against Sunflowers Farmers Market, LLC and Sprouts Farmers Markets in Sacramento County Superior Court. Compl., ECF No. 1-1. In May of the following year, Defendants removed the case to federal court. Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1 (citing 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1441). Arguing Defendants' removal was untimely, Plaintiff filed a motion to remand the case to state court. Mot. to Remand (“Mot.”) at 5-6, ECF No. 5. She also requests the Court award her the costs and attorney fees incurred because of Defendants' removal. Id. at 6 (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1447). Defendants opposed Plaintiff's motion. Opp'n, ECF No. 6. Defendants maintain removal was timely because they removed the case within 30 days of learning it was removable, as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(2)(3). Opp'n at 3-6. Plaintiff did not file a reply. For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's motion to remand and request for attorney fees and costs.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On August 21, 2016, Plaintiff slipped and fell in the produce aisle at Sunflower Farmers Market. Compl. ¶ 8. She sustained “personal / bodily injuries, resulting in economic and non-economic damages” as a result of the fall. Compl. ¶ 10. Plaintiff attributes her fall to the “dangerous, defective and hazardous condition” of the grocery aisle-specifically, the placement of the grocery bins. Compl. ¶¶ 9, 11.

         Prior to filing her complaint in August 2018, Plaintiff sent an offer of settlement to Defendants. Mot. at 5. Plaintiff requested $250, 000. See Exh. D to Mot. On October 10, 2018, she sent another letter to Defendants. Mot. at 5. The October 10 letter renewed Plaintiff's earlier settlement offer. Id. Plaintiffs attempted to send another letter on November 10-again, renewing their $250, 000 offer for settlement. Mot. at 6. Defendants contend they never received the November 10 letter. Opp'n at 4-5. The address block on the November 10 letter misspelled defense counsel's first name, abbreviated “Koeller, Nebeker, Carlson & Haluck, LLP” as “KNCH, LLP, ” and listed the ZIP code for Cool, CA rather than the one for Irvine, CA. See Exh. D to Mot., ECF No. 5-2.

         Over the course of discovery, Plaintiff produced her Statement of Damages. Richard Somes Decl. ¶ 13, ECF No. 6-1; see also Exh. I to Opp'n, ECF No. 6-10. It claimed $1, 000, 000 in damages. Id. Within thirty days of receiving Plaintiff's Statement, Defendants removed the case to federal court.

         II. OPINION

         A. Judicial Notice

         Rule 201 of the Federal Rules of Evidence allows a court to take judicial notice of an adjudicative fact that is “not subject to reasonable dispute, ” because it (1) “is generally known within the trial court's territorial jurisdiction”; or (2) “can be accurately and readily determined from sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned.” Fed.R.Evid. 201(a)-(b). A court may take judicial notice of matters of public record, such as court records. United States v. Howard, 381 F.3d 873, 876 n.1 (9th Cir. 2004).

         Defendants request the Court take judicial notice of the following facts:

1. Plaintiff's Proof of Service of Summons and Complaint against Defendant Sunflowers Market, LLC;
2. Plaintiff's Proof of Service of Summons and Complaint against Henry's Holdings, LLC (erroneously sued as Sprouts Farmers Market, LLC);
3. Plaintiff's Complaint filed August 20, 2018 in State Court;
4. Plaintiff's First Amended complaint filed January 10, ...

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