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Ramirez v. Lowe's Home Centers, LLC

United States District Court, C.D. California

October 29, 2019

Renee Ramirez
v.
Lowe's Home Centers, LLC et al.

          Present: The Honorable James V. Selna, U.S. District Court Judge

          CIVIL MINUTES-GENERAL

         Proceedings: [IN CHAMBERS] Order Regarding Defendant's Notice of Removal

         Before the Court is Defendant Lowe's Home Centers, LLC's (“Lowe's”) Notice of Removal. (“Notice, ” Docket No. 1.) Because there is no subject matter jurisdiction, the Court REMANDS the case, sua sponte, to the Superior Court for the State of California, County of Orange.

         I. Background

         On October 9, 2018, Plaintiff Renee Ramirez (“Ramirez”) filed suit against Defendants Lowe's and Thomas Kirkpatrick (“Kirkpatrick”) in the Superior Court for the State of California, County of Orange, styled as Renee Ramirez v. Lowes Home Centers, LLC; Thomas Kirkpatrick; and Does 1 through 150, No. 30-2018-01023816-CU-OE-CJC. (Notice ¶ 1, Ex. A.)

         On September 16, 2019, counsel for Lowe's received an email from counsel of record for Ramirez, informing him of Ramirez's decision to move out of the State of California. (Notice ¶ 2.) In a follow up phone call, Ramirez's counsel confirm that she had “moved out of state” and “does not intend to return to live in California.” (Id.)

         After reaching an agreement with Kirkpatrick, who is proceeding pro se for the purposes of this action, Lowe's filed the Notice of Removal on October 8, 2019 on the basis of diversity jurisdiction.

         II. Legal Standard

         Removal jurisdiction is based entirely on federal statutory authority. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441-55. A defendant may remove “any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts . . . have original jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1), federal courts have original jurisdiction over civil actions “where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000 . . . and is between . . . citizens of different States.”

         “Diversity removal requires complete diversity, meaning that each plaintiff must be of a different citizenship from each defendant.” GranCare, LLC v. Thrower, 889 F.3d 543, 548 (9th Cir. 2018) (citing Caterpillar Inc. v. Lewis, 519 U.S. 61, 68 (1996)). Complete diversity “is determined (and must exist) as of the time the complaint is filed and removal is effected.” Strotek Corp. v. Air Transp. Ass'n. of Am., 300 F.3d 1129, 1131-32 (9th Cir. 2002) (emphasis added) (citing Morongo Band of Mission Indians v. California State Bd. of Equalization, 858 F.2d 1376, 1380 (9th Cir. 1988) (diversity is determined by citizenship of parties as of filing of the original complaint)); see also Newcombe v. Adolf Coors Co., 157 F.3d 686, 690 (9th Cir. 1998) (diversity must exist when the action is removed).

         If the court determines that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction in which a defendant has improperly removed the case, the federal court must remand the case to state court. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c); Fed. R. Civ. P 12(h)(3).

         III. Discussion

         At the time this case was filed on October 8, 2018, Ramirez was a citizen of California. (Notice ¶ 9.) Kirkpatrick was also (and remains still) a citizen of California. (Id.) For purposes of determining diversity, Lowe's is a citizen of North Carolina. (Notice ¶ 2.) Accordingly, and as Lowe's admits, “the requirements for diversity jurisdiction did not appear to exist” at the time of filing. (Notice ¶ 9.) Thus, because there was no diversity at the time of filing, there is no subject matter jurisdiction.

         A. Lowe's Application of the ‚ÄúVoluntary/Involuntary ...


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