United States District Court, C.D. California
Present: The Honorable GEORGE H. WU, UNITED STATES DISTRICT
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
IN CHAMBERS - FINAL RULING ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO
hereto is the Court's Final Ruling. The Court GRANTS the
Motion and remands this case to the Superior Court of the
State of California, County of Los Angeles, for further
v. Regus Management Grp., LLC et al.; No.
2:19-cv-4243-GW-(ASx) Final Ruling on Motion to Remand
February 28, 2019, Plaintiff Viviriana Guatemala filed the
present lawsuit in state court against Regus Management
Group, LLC (“Regus”), Erika Deras
(“Deras”), and Does 1-100 (collectively
“Defendants”) alleging: (1) actual/perceived
disability harassment in violation of Cal. Gov. Code §
12940, et seq.; (2) actual/perceived disability
discrimination in violation Cal. Gov. Code § 12940,
et seq.; (3) actual/perceived disability retaliation
in violation of Cal. Gov. Code § 12940 et seq.;
(4) failure to engage in the mandatory good-faith interactive
process in violation of Cal. Gov. Code § 12940, et
seq.; (5) failure to accommodate in violation of Cal.
Gov. Code § 12940, et seq.; (6) violation of
the California Family Rights Act, Cal. Gov. Code §
12945.2 et seq.; (7) whistleblower violation, Cal.
Labor Code § 1102.5; and (8) wrongful termination and
retaliation in violation of public policy. See First
Amended Complaint (“FAC”), attached as Exhibit B
to Notice of Removal, Docket No. 1-3.
filed a notice of removal on May 16, 2019. See NOR,
Docket No. 1. Regus filed a notice of consent to removal.
See Consent by Defendant Regus Management Group, LLC
to Removal of Action by Defendant Erika Deras, Docket No. 5.
Deras removed the case to federal court pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1441. The sole member of Regus Management is Regus
Corporation, a Delaware Corporation with its principal place
of business located in Addison, Texas. See
Declaration of Sharon Edmondson in Support of Defendant Erika
Deras' Notice of Removal (“Edmondson Decl.”),
Docket No. 1-1, ¶4. Plaintiff claims to be an individual
residing in Los Angeles, and therefore, Deras is informed and
believes that Plaintiff is a citizen of California.
See NOR ¶ 2. Deras is an individual residing in
California. See Id. ¶ 4.
previously filed a motion to remand because Deras'
presence in this case as a defendant destroys complete
diversity. See Plaintiff's Motion to Remand and
Request for Attorney Fees and Sanctions in the Amount of $2,
313.56 (“MTR I”), Docket No. 17. Deras argued
that her citizenship should not be considered by the Court
for purposes of determining diversity jurisdiction because
she is a “sham defendant.” See generally
NOR. The Court found that the claims against Deras in the FAC
were time barred, but allowed Plaintiff leave to file an
amended complaint based on her assertion that she could
assert alternative causes of action against Deras that would
not be time barred. See Minutes of Plaintiff's
Motion to Remand and Request for Attorney Fees and Sanctions
in the Amount of $2, 313.56, Docket No. 22. Plaintiff filed a
second amended complaint which includes a claim against Deras
for intentional infliction of emotional distress
(“IIED”). See Second Amended Complaint,
Docket No. 23 at 52 et seq.
the Court is Plaintiff's second motion to remand.
See Plaintiff's Notice of Motion and Motion to
Remand (“MTR II”), Docket No. 29. Defendants
filed an opposition. See Defendants' Opposition
to Plaintiff's Motion to Remand and Request for Attorney
Fees and Sanctions (“Opp.”) Docket No. 33.
Plaintiff filed a reply. See Reply in Support of
Plaintiff's Motion to Remand (“Reply”),
Docket No. 35.
courts possess limited jurisdiction, having subject matter
jurisdiction only over matters authorized by the Constitution
and Congressional statute. See, e.g., Kokkonen
v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994).
Federal courts operate under the presumption that they do not
have jurisdiction over state causes of action, and the party
claiming federal jurisdiction must prove otherwise. See
id. (citing Turner v. Bank of N. Am., 4 U.S. 8,
11 (1799); McNutt v. General Motors Acceptance
Corp., 298 U.S. 178, 182-83 (1936)). Additionally,
“[t]he defendant bears the burden of establishing that
removal is proper” and removal statutes are
“strictly construed against removal
jurisdiction.” Provincial Gov't of Marinduque
v. Placer Dome, Inc., 582 F.3d 1083, 1087 (9th Cir.
2009); see also Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564,
566 (9th Cir. 1992) (“[J]urisdiction must be rejected
if there is any doubt as to the right of removal.”).
jurisdiction exists over claims that: (1) are between
citizens of different states, and (2) have an amount in
controversy greater than $75, 000. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332(a). Although diversity jurisdiction requires
complete diversity of citizenship, there is an exception to
the complete diversity requirement “where a non-diverse
defendant has been fraudulently joined.” Hunter v.
Philip Morris USA, 582 F.3d 1039, 1043 (9th Cir. 2009).
“Joinder is 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. (quoting Hamilton
Materials, Inc. v. Dow Chem. Corp., 494 F.3d
1203, 1206 (9th Cir. 2007)). Conversely, “if there is
any possibility that the state law might
impose liability on a resident defendant under the
circumstances alleged in the complaint, the federal court
cannot find that joinder of the resident defendant was
fraudulent, and remand is necessary.” Id. at
1044 (emphasis added). Additionally, “[t]he burden of
proving a fraudulent joinder is a heavy one. The removing
party must prove that there is absolutely no
possibility that the plaintiff will be able to establish a
cause of action against the in-state defendant in state court
. . . . [citations omitted, emphasis added]” Green
v. Amerada Hess Corp., 707 F.2d 201, 205 (5th Cir.
1983). See also Esperanza v. Shanklin Corp., No.
5:17-cv-2456-CAS-KK, 2017 WL 6520465, at *2 (C.D. Cal. Dec.
19, 2017); GranCare, LLC v. Thrower, 889 F.3d 543,
548 (9th Cir. 2018) (“A defendant invoking federal
court diversity jurisdiction on the basis of fraudulent
joinder bears a ‘heavy burden' since there is a
‘general presumption against [finding] fraudulent
joinder.' [citation omitted]”.). “[T]he
relevant inquiry is only whether plaintiff could state a
claim against [the in-state defendant] on any legal
theory.” Lytle v. Ford Motor Co., No.
2:18-cv-1628-WBC (EFBx), 2018 WL 4793800, at *5 (E.D. Cal.
Oct. 2, 2018).
do not dispute that both Deras and Plaintiff are citizens of
California. See generally NOR. Instead, Defendants
argue that Deras has been fraudulently joined and therefore
her citizenship should be ignored for purposes of determining
diversity. See NOR ¶¶13-15. In order for
this Court to find that Deras is a sham defendant, ...