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Robinson v. PPG Industries, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

October 17, 2019

ELWYN ROBINSON, Plaintiff,
v.
PPG INDISTRIES, INC., et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING MOTION TO REMAND [11]

          OTIS D. WRIGHT, II UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On March 8, 2019, Plaintiff Elwyn Robinson (“Robinson”) filed this action for violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) in the Superior Court of California for the County of Los Angeles. (Notice of Removal Ex. B (“Compl.”), ECF No. 1-2.) Defendant PPG Industries, Inc. (“PPG”) removed this matter based on federal diversity jurisdiction. (Notice of Removal 1, ECF No. 1.) Robinson moves to remand. (Mot. to Remand (“Mot.”), ECF No. 11.) For the reasons that follow, the Court DENIES Robinson's Motion.[1]

         II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Robinson was born on November 16, 1957. (Compl. ¶ 10.) Robinson has substantial experience and education pertinent to commercial manufacturing operations, including a Master's Degree in Business Administration, Project Management Professional, and a graduate degree in Lean Six S. (Compl. ¶¶ 11-12.)

         In early October 2018, PPG's agent Ron Lyndon (“Lyndon”) informed Robinson about the availability of a Manufacturing Manager position at PPG's facility in Mojave, California. (Compl. ¶ 14.) On or about October 10, 2018 Robinson participated in a telephonic interview with the Mojave facility's on-site manager David Sebold (“Sebold”) (Compl. ¶¶ 14-15.) Sebold told Robinson he was under consideration for the position and the interview concluded on cordial and favorable terms. (Compl. ¶ 15.)

         On October 15, 2018, Lyndon told Robinson that Sebold was concerned that Robinson was “too senior” for the role. (Compl. ¶ 16.) Robinson disagreed with the perception that he was “too senior.” (Compl. ¶ 16.) On October 23, 2018 Lyndon sent an email stating that Robinson was “too senior” for the position and PPG did not offer him the position. (Compl. ¶ 18.)

         On March 8, 2019, Robinson brought this action against Defendants PPG, and Sebold for violations of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) pursuant to Cal. Govt. Code § 12940. (Compl. ¶ 2.) Robinson alleges that substantial factors motivating PPG's decision to not hire him were his age, 61 at the time, and his opposition to the perception that he was “too senior.” (Compl. ¶ 19.)

         On May 8, 2019, PPG removed this action based on federal diversity jurisdiction. (Notice of Removal 1.) PPG alleges that, although Sebold is a citizen of California, he was fraudulently joined to this action as a sham defendant, and therefore, Sebold's citizenship should be disregarded for purposes of diversity jurisdiction. (Notice of Removal ¶¶ 18-19.) Robinson now moves to remand on the basis that the Court does not have jurisdiction over the matter because diversity jurisdiction is not satisfied. (Mot. 6-13.)

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal courts have subject matter jurisdiction only as authorized by the Constitution and Congress. U.S. Const. art. III, § 2, cl. 1; see also 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).

         The removal statute is strictly construed against removal, 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 party seeking removal bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction. Id.

         IV. DISCUSSION

         PPG invokes diversity jurisdiction as grounds for this Court's subject matter jurisdiction. (Notice of Removal ¶ 1.) The Supreme Court “ha[s] consistently interpreted § 1332 as requiring complete diversity: In a case with multiple plaintiffs and multiple defendants, the presence in the action of a single plaintiff from the same State as a single defendant deprives the district court of original ...


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