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Alan v. Equifax, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

November 8, 2019

Jason Alan
Equifax, Inc.

          Present: The Honorable DOLLY M. GEE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE



         This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Stay and Plaintiff's Motion to Remand and Request for Attorneys' Fees and Costs (“MTR”). [Doc. ## 7, 14.] For the reasons set forth below, the Motion to Remand is GRANTED, the Request for Attorneys' Fees is DENIED, and the Motion to Stay is DENIED as moot.


         On July 9, 2019, Plaintiff Jason Alan filed a complaint in Ventura County Superior Court against Defendant Equifax Credit Information Services, Inc., for violations of Cal. Civ. Code section 1714(a) and California's Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act (“CCRAA”), Cal. Civ. Code section 1785.25(a). Compl. [Doc. # 1-2]. Section 1714(a) provides that “[e]veryone is responsible, not only for the result of his or her willful acts, but also for an injury occasioned to another by his or her want of ordinary care or skill in the management of his or her property or person . . . .” Cal. Civ. Code § 1714(a). Section 1785.25(a) provides that “[a] person shall not furnish information on a specific transaction or experience to any consumer credit reporting agency if the person knows or should know the information is incomplete or inaccurate.” Id. at § 1785.25(a).

         On July 30, 2019, Defendant removed the case to federal court, asserting federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) due to the Complaint's references to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Not. of Removal at ¶ 3-5 [Doc. # 1]. On August 6, 2019, Defendant filed a motion to stay pending a final decision by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to transfer the case to the Northern District of Georgia for inclusion in the proceeding In re Equifax, Inc., Customer Data Security Breach Litigation, MDL No. 2800. [Doc # 7.] On August 12, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Remand. [Doc # 14.] Both motions have been fully briefed. [Doc. ## 19 (“MTR Opp.”), 20, 22, 23.]


         A. The Court Resolves the Motion to Remand Before the Motion to Stay

         “Most courts, when faced with concurrent motions to remand and transfer, resolve the motion to remand prior to, and/or to the exclusion of, the motion to transfer.” Pac. Inv. Mgmt. Co. LLC v. Am. Int'l Grp., Inc., No. SA CV 15-0687-DOC, 2015 WL 3631833, at *4 (C.D. Cal. June 10, 2015). Defendant suggests, however, that the Court use the three-part test articulated in Meyers v. Bayer AG, 143 F.Supp.2d 1044 (E.D. Wis. 2001), to determine priority in resolving the MTR and Motion to Stay. MTR Opp. at 4-5.[1] Though the Ninth Circuit has not expressly adopted the Meyers test, the Court, and others in this district, consider it persuasive. “Under the Meyers test, courts should (1) ‘give preliminary scrutiny to the motion to remand'; (2) assess whether ‘the jurisdictional issue appears factually or legally difficult'; and (3) consider whether the ‘jurisdictional issue is both difficult and similar or identical to those in cases transferred or likely to be transferred.'” Jones v. Sanofi U.S. Servs. Inc., No. CV 18-8268-R, 2018 WL 6842605, at *1 (C.D. Cal. Nov. 19, 2018) (quoting Meyers, 143 F.Supp.2d at 1049). If preliminary scrutiny “suggests that removal was improper, the court should promptly complete its consideration and remand the case to state court.” Meyers, 143 F.Supp.2d at 1049.

         Using the Meyers test as an aid, the Court begins with preliminary scrutiny of Plaintiff's Motion to Remand to determine “whether the jurisdictional issue appears factually or legally difficult.” Id.

         B. Plaintiff Does Not Allege a Claim That Establishes Federal Question Jurisdiction

         “The burden of establishing federal subject matter jurisdiction falls on the party invoking removal.” Marin Gen. Hosp. v. Modesto & Empire Traction Co., 581 F.3d 941, 944 (9th Cir. 2009) (citing Toumajian v. Frailey, 135 F.3d 648, 652 (9th Cir. 1998)). There is a “strong presumption against removal jurisdiction, ” and courts must reject it “if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance.” Geographic Expeditions, Inc. v. Estate of Lhotka ex rel. Lhotka, 599 F.3d 1102, 1107 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (per curiam)).

         Plaintiff's Complaint brings claims for damages arising under Sections 1714(a) and 1785.25(a) of the California Civil Code. Compl. at ¶ 2, 34-40. Defendant argues that, though not explicitly pleaded, Plaintiff's Complaint also asserts violations of the FCRA, providing a basis for federal question jurisdiction. MTR Opp. at 7-8. Defendant does not make a legal argument that Plaintiff's CCRAA case was preempted for federal law or involves a substantial question of federal law. See ARCO Envtl. Remediation, L.L.C. v. Dep't of Health & Envtl. Quality of Montana (“ARCO”), 213 F.3d 1108, 1114 (9th Cir. 2000) (finding federal question jurisdiction over a state law claim (1) where the state law is “completely” preempted by the federal law, and (2) “where the claim is necessarily federal in character, or (3) where the right to relief depends on the resolution of a substantial, disputed federal question.”). Instead, Defendant makes a factual assertion that Plaintiff in fact stated a claim for violation of sections 1681n and 1681o of the FCRA, pointing to seven paragraphs in Plaintiff's Complaint that refer to the FRCA and Defendants' violations. MTR Opp. at 7-8.

         This is a simple jurisdictional issue, legally and factually, that relies on the face of the Complaint. See Meyers, 143 F.Supp.2d at 1049. The Court will therefore complete its ...

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