United States District Court, C.D. California, Southern Division
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND TO
STATE COURT [DKT. 11]
J. CARNEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
David Wang asserts claims against Defendants Foot Locker
Retail, Inc., and Foot Locker, Inc. under the California Fair
Employment and Housing Act, alleging that Defendants failed
to provide him reasonable accommodations, wrongfully
terminated him, and wrongfully discriminated against him
based on his disability and race. Foot Locker Retail, Inc.
removed the case to federal court over a year after Plaintiff
says that entity received notice of the complaint. Neither
party disputes that Foot Locker, Inc. has not been properly
served. Before the Court is Plaintiff's motion to remand.
(Dkt. 11 [hereinafter “Mot.”].) For the following
reasons, the motion is
filed this case in Los Angeles Superior Court on May 15, 2018
against Foot Locker, Inc. (“FLI”), and Foot
Locker Retail, Inc. (“Foot Locker Retail”). (Dkt.
1-2 [Complaint, hereinafter “Compl.”].) The
complaint was filed as a “limited civil” case,
which in California state court means that the amount in
controversy is less than $25, 000. (Compl. at 1);
see Cal. Civ. Proc. Code. § 85.
1, 2018, CT Corporation System (“CT”)-Foot Locker
Retail's agent for service of process in California (Dkt.
11-6)-was served with the summons and complaint, among other
documents. (Dkts. 11-2, 11-4.) The service was meant to be on
both Foot Locker Retail (Dkt. 11-2) and FLI (Dkt. 11-4).
However, on June 2, 2018, CT notified Plaintiff that FLI was
not listed in its records or in the records of the State of
California, so it was “unable to forward.” (Dkt.
11-5.) Although it appears that the summons used for Foot
Locker Retail contained FLI's name (see Dkt.
15-1), there is no evidence that CT rejected service on
behalf of Foot Locker Retail. On July 9, 2018, Plaintiff
filed the proof of service of summons on Foot Locker Retail.
(See Dkt. 11-2.)
August 6, 2019, Plaintiff, through new counsel, filed in
state court a “Motion for Reclassification of
Action.” (Dkt. 15-1, Ex. C.) In the reclassification
motion, Plaintiff asserted that his “damages far exceed
the $25, 000.00 threshold applicable to the limited
jurisdiction of this Court, ” and that Plaintiff's
former counsel, due to “neglect, ” “failed
to file the complaint in an unlimited jurisdiction, and did
not seek reclassification despite knowing that more than $25,
000 was at stake.” (Id. at 2.)
Locker Retail removed on August 26, 2019. (Dkt. 1.)
defendant may remove a case over which federal courts have
original jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Federal
courts have diversity jurisdiction where there is complete
diversity between the parties and the amount in controversy
exceeds $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). “[I]f the
case stated by the initial pleading is not removable, ”
a defendant may remove within 30 days after receiving
“a copy of an amended pleading, motion, order or other
paper from which it may first be ascertained that the case is
one which is or has become removable.” 28 U.S.C. §
1446(b)(3). However, a case may not be removed under Section
(b)(3) more than one year after the case is filed
“unless the district court finds that the plaintiff has
acted in bad faith in order to prevent a defendant from
removing the action.” Id. § 1446(c)(1).
of federalism and judicial economy require courts to
“scrupulously confine their [removal] jurisdiction to
the precise limits which [Congress] has defined.”
See Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S.
100, 109 (1941). Accordingly, “[t]he removal statute is
strictly construed 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.” California ex rel. Lockyer v. Dynegy,
Inc., 375 F.3d 831, 838 (9th Cir. 2004); Gaus v.
Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992).
case falls squarely under Section (b)(3): it was not
removable (even if Foot Locker Retail knew about it) until
Plaintiff filed the reclassification motion. The Court is not
persuaded by either party's argument that Section