United States District Court, C.D. California
Present: The Honorable JESUS G. BERNAL, UNITED STATES
Order (1) GRANTING Plaintiff Kayla Jones's Motion to
Remand (Dkt. No. 14); (2) AWARDING Plaintiff $1, 800 in
Attorneys' Fees; and (3) VACATING the October 21, 2019
Hearing (IN CHAMBERS)
the Court is Plaintiff Kayla Jones's Motion to Remand.
(“Motion, ” Dkt. No. 14.) The Court finds this
matter appropriate for resolution without a hearing.
See Fed.R.Civ.P. 78; L.R. 7-15. After consideration
of the papers filed in support of, and in opposition to the
Motion, the Court GRANTS the Motion and AWARDS Plaintiff $1,
800 in attorneys' fees. The hearing scheduled for October
21, 2019 is VACATED.
April 30, 2019, Plaintiff Kayla Jones
(“Plaintiff”) filed her complaint against
Defendants KLLM Transport Services, LLC (“KLLM”),
Gregory Bell (“Bell”) (collectively,
“Defendants”), and Does 1-50 and in the Superior
Court for the County of San Bernardino. (“Complaint,
” Dkt. No. 1-1.) The Complaint alleges personal injury
claims arising out of a vehicle collision. (Id.)
Plaintiff served KLLM on July 19, 2019. (Dkt. No. 14 at 13.)
Plaintiff has not yet served Gregory Bell. (Id. at
removed the action to this Court on August 23, 2019.
(“Notice of Removal, ” Dkt. No. 1.) Defendants
assert diversity jurisdiction. (Id.) Plaintiff filed
the Motion on September 17, 2019. (Motion.) In support of the
Motion, Plaintiff filed the Declaration of Anna You with
Exhibits A-C. (“You Declaration, ” Dkt. No. 14 at
9-26.) Defendants opposed the Motion on September 26, 2019.
(“Opposition, ” Dkt. No. 16.) In support of the
Opposition, Defendants filed the Declaration of Matthew J.
Kracht with Exhibits A-C. (“Kracht Declaration, ”
Dkt. No. 16-1.) Plaintiff filed her reply on October 4, 2019
with a second Declaration of Anna You. (“Reply, ”
Dkt. No. 17; “You Reply Declaration, ” Dkt. No.
to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), a defendant may remove a matter
to federal court where the district court would have original
jurisdiction. Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482
U.S. 386, 392 (1987). Federal courts have limited
jurisdiction, “possessing only that power authorized by
Constitution and statute.” Gunn v. Minton, 568
U.S. 251, 256 (2013). As such, a Defendant may remove civil
actions in which a federal question exists or in which
complete diversity of citizenship between the parties exists
and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. See
28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332. “Complete
diversity” means that “each defendant must be a
citizen of a different state from each plaintiff.”
In re Digimarc Corp. Derivative Litigation, 549 F.3d
1223, 1234 (9th Cir. 2008).
right to remove is not absolute, even where original
jurisdiction exists. A defendant may not remove on diversity
jurisdiction grounds “if any of the parties in interest
properly joined and served as defendants is a citizen of the
State in which such an action is brought.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 1441(b)(2). And a defendant must remove “within
30 days after the receipt by the defendant, through service
or otherwise, of a copy of the initial pleading.” 28
U.S.C. § 1446(b).
the Ninth Circuit “strictly construe[s] the removal
statute against removal jurisdiction, ” and
“[f]ederal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is
any doubt as to the right of removal in the first
instance.” 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.”
Jackson v. Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC, 2014 WL
5514142, *6 (C.D. Cal. Oct. 31, 2014). The court must resolve
doubts regarding removability in favor of remanding the case
to state court. Id.
seeks remand, arguing the Notice of Removal is deficient.
First, she argues the Notice of Removal is untimely because
it was filed more than thirty days after Plaintiff served
KLLM. (Motion at 3-4.) Second, she argues that the Notice of
Removal fails to allege diversity of citizenship because it
makes “no allegation regarding Plaintiff's
citizenship” and alleges “only that Bell is
‘a resident of Texas.'” (Motion at 5; Notice
of Removal at 2.) And third, she argues that the Notice of
Removal fails to establish the requisite $75, 000 in
controversy, stating only that the amount “exceeds $25,
000.” (Motion at 4; Notice of Removal at 2.)
Court agrees-the Notice of Removal is wholly deficient. It is
Defendants' burden to file a notice with “a
plausible allegation” that diversity of citizenship
exists and “that the amount in controversy exceeds the
jurisdictional threshold.” See Dart Cherokee Basin
Operating Co., LLC v. Owens, 135 S.Ct. 547, 554 (2014).
And a notice that neither alleges the plaintiff's
citizenship nor makes even a conclusory statement that there
is more than $75, 000 in controversy fails to make a
plausible allegation that the Court has original
jurisdiction. Although Defendants attempt to establish in the
Opposition that the amount in controversy is over $75, 000,
they make no allegations regarding Plaintiff's
citizenship. (See Opposition at 3-5.) It is
Defendant's burden to establish diversity of citizenship,
and without information regarding Plaintiff's
citizenship, it is impossible for Court to conclude that
diversity of citizenship exists.That alone is reason to
removal of this action is improper pursuant to the Forum
Defendant Rule, which limits removal based on diversity where
one of the defendants “properly joint and served”
is a citizen of the state in which the action was originally
filed. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b)(2). Because
“[r]emoval based on diversity jurisdiction is intended
to protect out-of-state defendants from possible prejudices
in state court” there is no need for it “in cases
where the ...