United States District Court, C.D. California
Present: HONORABLE JOSEPHINE L. STATON, UNITED STATES
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
(IN CHAMBERS) ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND
the Court is Plaintiff Roy Rios's Motion to Remand,
currently set for hearing on December 13, 2019, at 10:30 a.m.
(Mot., Doc. 9.) Defendant Wirepath Home Systems, LLC
(“Wirepath”) opposed, and Plaintiff replied.
(Opp., Doc. 15; Reply, Doc. 17.) Having considered the
parties' papers and for the reasons discussed below, the
Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion to Remand.
a California resident, “is a blind individual who
requires screen reading software to read website content and
access the internet.” (Compl. ¶¶ 4, 7, Doc.
1-1.) At issue in this case is a website maintained by
Defendant, sunbritetv.com (the “Website”), which
provides access to Defendant's products and services.
(See Id. ¶¶ 4, 9.) Plaintiff alleges that
Defendant maintains the Website “in such a way that the
Website contains numerous access barriers preventing
Plaintiff, and other blind and visually-impaired individuals,
from gaining equal access to the Website.”
(Id. ¶ 4.)
filed his Complaint in Orange County Superior Court on August
21, 2019, bringing a single cause of action under the Unruh
Civil Rights Act (“Unruh Act”). (See Id.
¶¶ 21-28.) As remedies for the alleged Unruh Act
violation, Plaintiff seeks statutory damages, a preliminary
and permanent injunction, and attorneys'
fees. (Id. at 9.) Importantly,
“Plaintiff expressly limits the total amount of
recovery, including statutory damages, attorneys' fees
and costs, and cost of injunctive relief not to exceed $74,
removed the case to this Court on October 4, 2019 based on
diversity jurisdiction, contending that the amount in
controversy actually exceeds $75, 000, Plaintiff's
express limitation notwithstanding. (See Notice of
Removal at 3-7, Doc. 1.) Plaintiff timely seeks to remand the
federal court has diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332 if the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000 and
the parties to the action are citizens of different states.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). And “[a]
defendant may remove an action to federal court based on . .
. diversity jurisdiction.” Hunter v. Philip Morris
USA, 582 F.3d 1039, 1042 (9th Cir. 2009) (citing 28
U.S.C. § 1441).
reviewing a notice of removal, “it is to be presumed
that a cause lies outside the limited jurisdiction of the
federal courts and the burden of establishing the contrary
rests upon the party asserting jurisdiction.”
Hunter, 582 F.3d at 1042 (internal quotation marks
and brackets omitted) (quoting Abrego Abrego v. Dow Chem.
Co., 443 F.3d 676, 684 (9th Cir. 2006)). Indeed, courts
“strictly construe the removal statute against removal
jurisdiction[, ]” meaning that “the defendant
always has the burden of establishing that removal is
proper.” Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564,
566 (9th Cir. 1992) (citations omitted).
courts permit individual plaintiffs, who are the masters of
their complaints, to avoid removal to federal court, and to
obtain a remand to state court, by stipulating to amounts at
issue that fall below the federal jurisdictional
requirement.” Standard Fire Ins. Co. v.
Knowles, 568 U.S. 588, 595 (2013). “Some courts
have required that these affidavits or stipulations be
executed prior to the notice of removal as a sign of their
bona fides[.]” Patel v. Nike Retail Servs.,
Inc., 58 F.Supp.3d 1032, 1038 (N.D. Cal. 2014) (citation
omitted). “Notwithstanding this, district courts within
this circuit have remanded actions on the condition that a
plaintiff stipulate to seeking less than the jurisdictional
minimum or submitting an affidavit binding him or her not to
accept any amount meeting the jurisdictional minimum.”
Id. at 1038-39 (collecting cases).
Motion, the parties' dispute turns on the value of the
injunctive relief Plaintiff seeks. (See Opp. at 6,
Doc. 15 (“Plaintiff's motion to remand can be
distilled to one primary argument: Wirepath cannot meet its
burden of proof in valuing the injunctive relief Plaintiff
demands.”).) In short, Defendant challenges
Plaintiff's express limitation of the amount in
controversy, arguing that Plaintiff's requested
injunctive relief alone would cost Defendant more
than $75, 000. (See generally Opp.)
this is not a case where Plaintiff signed a binding
pre-removal stipulation averring that the amount in
controversy will not exceed the jurisdictional minimum,
cf. Blood v. Equifax, Inc., No. 818CV00958JLSPJW,
2018 WL 3636960, at *3 (C.D. Cal. July 30, 2018),
Plaintiff's Complaint expressly limits his
recovery to $74, 999, inclusive of statutory damages,
attorneys' fees and costs, and the cost of injunctive
relief (Compl. at 9). Importantly, Plaintiff reaffirms this
self-imposed recovery cap in the instant Motion. (See,
e.g., Mot. at 8, Doc. 9.) This case therefore presents a
situation where the Complaint does more than just
“affirmatively allege that the amount in controversy
is less than the jurisdictional threshold, ” U.S.
Bank Nat'l Ass'n v. Azam, No. SACV-13:633-JLS,
2013 WL 12130577, at *2 (C.D. Cal. Apr. 30, 2013) (internal
quotation marks omitted), aff'd, 582 Fed.Appx.
710 (9th Cir. 2014). Rather, taken together, Plaintiff's
Complaint and his reaffirmation of the recovery cap in his