United States District Court, S.D. California
William Q. Hayes United States District Court
8, 2019, Plaintiff M Resorts, Ltd., initiated this action by
filing a Complaint in the Superior Court for the State of
California, County of San Diego. (ECF No. 1-2). The caption
of the Complaint names Defendants 1) New England Life
Insurance Company a.k.a. New England Variable Life Insurance
Company (“New England Life”); 2) Brighthouse Life
Insurance Company (“Brighthouse”); and 3) MetLife
Auto & Home Insurance Agency, Inc.
(“MetLife”). The body of the Complaint identifies
a fourth Defendant not named in the caption: New England
Financial. (Id. ¶ 4). On August 16, 2019, New
England Life, Brighthouse, and MetLife (collectively, the
“Removing Defendants”) filed a Notice of Removal,
which states that this Court has diversity jurisdiction
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (ECF No. 1 at 2).
civil action may be removed to federal district court so long
as original jurisdiction would lie in the court to which the
case is removed. Jurisdiction founded on 28 U.S.C. §
1332 requires that the parties be in complete diversity and
the amount in controversy exceed $75, 000.”
Matheson v. Progressive Specialty Ins. Co., 319 F.3d
1089, 1090 (9th Cir. 2003) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a)).
“Subject matter jurisdiction based upon diversity of
citizenship requires that no defendant have the same
citizenship as any plaintiff.” Tosco Corp. v.
Cmtys. for a Better Env't, 236 F.3d 495, 499 (9th
Cir. 2001). The citizenship of all defendants, both served
and unserved, determines whether the complete diversity
requirement has been met. Clarence E. Morris, Inc. v.
Vitek, 412 F.2d 1174, 1176 (9th Cir. 1969); see
Id. (“Whenever federal jurisdiction in a removal
case depends on complete diversity, the existence of
diversity is determined from the fact of citizenship of the
parties named and not from the fact of service.”).
purposes of determining diversity of citizenship, “like
a partnership, an LLC is a citizen of every state of which
its owners/members are citizens.” Johnson v.
Columbia Props. Anchorage, LP, 437 F.3d 894, 899 (9th
Cir. 2006). A corporation is a citizen of “every State
and foreign state by which is has been incorporated and of
the State or foreign state where it has its principal place
of business . . . .” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(1). The
citizenship of a traditional trust is the citizenship of its
trustee or trustees. Demarest v. HSBC Bank USA,
N.A., 920 F.3d 1223, 1229 (9th Cir. 2019). “The
natural person's state of citizenship is [ ] determined
by her state of domicile.” Kanter v. Warner-Lambert
Co., 265 F.3d 853, 857 (9th Cir. 2001). The removing
party bears the burden of proving that subject matter
jurisdiction exists. Matheson, 319 F.3d at 1090.
question of whether a defendant is properly in a case is not
resolved merely by reading the caption of a complaint.”
Rice v. Hamilton Air Force Base Commissary, 720 F.2d
1082, 1085 (9th Cir. 1983) (citation omitted). “[T]he
determination of whether or not a defendant is properly in
the case hinges upon the allegations in the body of the
complaint and not upon his inclusion in the caption.”
Hoffman v. Halden, 268 F.2d 280, 303-04 (9th Cir.
1959), overruled on other grounds by Cohen v.
Norris, 300 F.2d 24 (9th Cir. 1962).
case, Plaintiff brings claims for 1) declaratory judgment or
relief; 2) breach of contract; 3) negligence; and 4)
violation of California's Unfair Competition Law,
California Business and Professions Code § 17200,
et. seq. against “Defendants.” In the
body of the Complaint, Plaintiff identifies four
“Defendants:” New England Life, Brighthouse, New
England Financial, and MetLife. (ECF No. 1-2 ¶¶
2-5). Plaintiff alleges in the body of the Complaint under
the heading, “Parties:”
Defendant New England Financial, is a MetLife Company of
unknown form with its principal place of business believed to
be in Pittsburgh, PA, which is doing business in the State of
California, County of San Diego, servicing life insurance
policies, including the life insurance policy out of which
this action arises.
(ECF No. 1-2 ¶ 4). Although Plaintiff fails to name New
England Financial as a Defendant in the caption of the
Complaint, the body of the Complaint identifies New England
Financial as a Defendant and alleges how New England
Financial is connected to Plaintiff's claims. These
allegations indicate Plaintiff intended to name New England
Financial as a Defendant. See Cal. Dump Truck Owners
Ass'n v. Cummins Engine Co., 24 Fed. App'x 727,
729 (9th Cir. 2001) (“While the non-diverse party was
not listed in the caption or in the summons, as it
technically should have been, it was clearly listed as a
plaintiff in the body of the complaint, thereby providing
notice to the defendants. The presence or absence of federal
jurisdiction should not hinge on a technicality such as
failing to include a party in the caption when that party is
named within the complaint. Therefore, the original complaint
did not allege complete diversity.”).
Removing Defendants allege the citizenship of Plaintiff and
each Removing Defendant. The Removing Defendants fail to
identify the citizenship of Defendant New England Financial
or plead facts demonstrating its citizenship should be
disregarded. The citizenship of New England Financial cannot
be determined from the allegations in the Complaint. The
Court, therefore, cannot determine that complete diversity
exists. As the party with “the burden of establishing
that removal is proper, ” Gaus v. Miles, Inc.,
980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992), the Removing Defendants
must either allege New England Financial's citizenship or
facts to show the Court should not consider its citizenship
in deciding whether it has diversity jurisdiction in this
Removing Defendants are ORDERED TO SHOW CAUSE why removal was
proper based on diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332. The Removing Defendants shall respond to ...