United States District Court, S.D. California
CARMELA CISNEROS, individually, and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
CENTENE CORPORATION, a Delaware corporation; HEALTH NET FEDERAL SERVICES, LLC, a Delaware corporation; MICHAELINE FLOWER, an individual; and DOES 2 through 25, inclusive, Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND [ECF
James Lorenz United States District Judge.
before the Court is Plaintiff Carmela Cisneros's
(“Plaintiff”) Motion to Remand [ECF No. 8]. The
Court decides this matter on the papers submitted and without
oral argument. See Civ. L. R. 7.1(d)(1). For the
reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS
July 25, 2006, through March 7, 2018, Plaintiff was employed
by Centene Corporation (“Centene”) and Health Net
Federal Services, LLC (“Health Net”) as a
Clerical Specialist in San Diego County. ECF No. 1-3, Ex. C
at 36 ¶ 8.
January 30, 2019, Plaintiff's filed a complaint against
Centene and Michaeline Flower (“Flower”) in the
Superior Court of California, County of San Diego, alleging
various claims relating from her termination of employment.
See ECF No. 1-3, Exhibit A. The complaint sought
damages on the following bases: (1) associational disability
discrimination under the Fair Employment and Housing Act
(“FEHA”), (2) failure to engage in a good faith
interactive process under FEHA, (3) failure to accommodate
under FEHA, (4) retaliation under FEHA, (5) unlawful
workplace language policy under Cal. Gov. Code § 12951,
(6) national origin discrimination based on associational
disability under Cal. Gov. Code § 12900, (7) failure to
take all reasonable steps to discrimination, harassment
and/or retaliation, (8) violation of the California Family
Rights Act (“CFRA”), (9) retaliation under CFRA,
(10) wrongful termination against public policy, and (11)
defamation. See Id. On March 25, 2019, Plaintiff
amended that complaint and filed her First Amended Complaint
(“Complaint”) against Centene, Flower, and
newly-added defendant Health Net. See ECF No. 1-3,
Ex. C. Plaintiff alleges that, in March 2018, she
took leave to care for her husband who suffered a shoulder
injury. ECF No. 1-3, Ex. C at 36 ¶ 11. Upon returning
from leave, she was terminated for falsifying medical
documents related to her husband's injury. Id.
at ¶ 12. Plaintiff claims she was terminated in
retaliation for taking leave to care for her injured husband.
Id. at ¶¶ 94-101. Plaintiff alleges the
same eleven causes of action related to her termination of
employment. See id.
April 30, 2019, Health Net deposed Plaintiff in the related
class action case. See ECF No.1 at ¶ 6. On May
30, 2019, Centene removed the case to this Court, claiming
diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§§ 1332, 1441, 1446(b)(3). The timeliness of
Centene's removal is not in dispute. Plaintiff now moves
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction.”
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S.
375, 377 (1994). “They possess only that power
authorized by Constitution or a statute, which is not to be
expanded by judicial decree.” Id. (internal
citations omitted). “It is to be presumed that a cause
lies outside this limited jurisdiction and the burden of
establishing the contrary rests upon the party asserting
jurisdiction.” Id. (internal citations
omitted); see also Abrego Abrego v. The Dow Chem.
Co., 443 F.3d 676, 684 (9th Cir. 2006). Consistent with
the limited jurisdiction of federal courts, the removal
statute is strictly construed against removal jurisdiction.
Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir.
1992); see also Sygenta Crop Prot. v. Henson, 537
U.S. 28, 32 (2002); O'Halloran v. Univ. of
Wash., 856 F.2d 1375, 1380 (9th Cir. 1988). “The
strong presumption against removal jurisdiction means that
the defendant always has the burden of establishing that
removal is proper.” Gaus, 980 F.2d at 566;
see also Nishimoto v. Federman-Bachrach &
Assoc., 903 F.2d 709, 712 n.3 (9th Cir. 1990);
O'Halloran, 856 F.2d at 1380. “Federal
jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the
right of removal in the first instance.” Gaus,
980 F.2d at 566.
jurisdiction requires (1) complete diversity of citizenship
between the parties and (2) an amount in controversy
exceeding $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Diversity
jurisdiction does not exist if any defendant is of the same
citizenship as any plaintiff. 28 U.S.C. § 1332;
Caterpillar Inc. v. Lewis, 519 U.S. 61, 68 (1996).
Furthermore, removal on diversity grounds is improper if any
defendant is a citizen of the forum state. 28 U.S.C. §
1441(b)(2). A court may disregard the citizenship of any
fraudulently joined defendants. Morris v. Princess
Cruises, Inc., 236 F.3d 1061, 1067 (9th Cir. 2001).
“Joinder of a non-diverse defendant is deemed
fraudulent . . . if the plaintiff fails to state a cause of
action against a resident defendant, and the failure is
obvious according to the settled rules of the state.”
Id. (internal citations and quotation marks
omitted). A defendant bears the burden of proving fraudulent
joinder by clear and convincing evidence. Hamilton
Materials, Inc. v. Dow Chemical Corp., 494 F.3d 1203,
1206 (9th Cir. 2007).
contends there are two reasons the case must be remanded to
state court. First, Plaintiff contends that Flower is not a
sham defendant; thus, there is not complete diversity among
the parties. ECF No. 8 at 9-14. Second, Plaintiff contends
the amount in controversy does not exceed $75, 000.
Id. at 7-9.
alleges two claims against Flower: (1) retaliation in
violation of the CFRA and (2) defamation under California
law. See ECF No. 1, Ex. C. Centene asserts Flower
was fraudulently joined in the action and that her
citizenship should be disregarded in evaluating whether
complete diversity exists. ECF No. 1 at 6-10.