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Entwistle v. Walmart Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

December 13, 2019

John Entwistle
v.
Walmart Inc, et al.

          Present: The Honorable Philip S. Gutierrez, United States District Judge

          CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

         Proceedings (In Chambers): Order GRANTING Plaintiff's motion to remand

         Before the Court is Plaintiff John Entwistle's (“Plaintiff”) motion to remand. See Dkt. # 8 (“Mot.”). Defendant Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (“Defendant”) has opposed this motion. See Dkt. # 15 (“Opp.”). Plaintiff did not file a reply. The Court finds the matter appropriate for decision without oral argument. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 78; L.R. 7-15. Having considered the moving papers, the Court GRANTS the motion.

         I. Background

         On April 12, 2019, Plaintiff filed this case in Los Angeles Superior Court, asserting claims against Defendant for negligence and premises liability. See Complaint, Dkt. # 1-1 (“Compl.”). Plaintiff attached a statement of damages to the complaint, which stated that Plaintiff sought more than $5 million in general damages and almost $70, 000 in special damages. See First Statement of Damages, Dkt. # 8-3 (“First SOD”); Proof of Service, Dkt. # 8-2, at 1.

         On May 14, 2019, Defendant was served with the summons, complaint, the statement of damages, and other documents. See Notice of Removal, Dkt. # 1 (“NOR”), ¶¶ 2; Proof of Service at 1. Defendant filed an answer and produced initial discovery shortly after. See Opp. 2:23-24. In June 2019, Defendant served a request for a statement of damages and a set of special interrogatories requesting information on Plaintiff's citizenship. See Id. 2:25-28. On August 14, 2019, Plaintiff provided Defendant with his set of special interrogatory responses “wherein he admitted that he is a citizen of California.” Opp. 3:1; Defendant's Special Interrogatories, Dkt. # 8-7, No. 21; Plaintiff's Responses to Defendant's Special Interrogatories, Dkt. # 8-8 (“Pl's Special Interrogatory Resp”), No. 21. On September 19, 2019, Plaintiff served another statement of damages on Defendant, again asserting over $5 million in general damages and ORDER including an itemized list of special damages. See Declaration of Silvia Luna, Dkt. # 15-1 (“Luna Decl.”), Ex. F.

         On October 11, 2019, Defendant removed the case to this Court. See NOR. On October 24, 2019, Plaintiff filed this motion to remand, arguing that the removal was untimely. See generally Mot.

         II. Legal Standard

         Defendants may generally remove any case filed in state court over which the federal district courts have original jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). To remove a case, the defendant must file a notice of removal in federal court. Id. § 1446(a). The notice of removal must be filed either (1) within thirty days after the defendant receives the initial pleading or (2) “if the case stated by the initial pleading is not removable, ” within thirty days after the defendant receives “a copy of an amended pleading, motion, order or other paper from which it may first be ascertained that the case is one which is or has become removable.” Id. § 1446(b)(2)(A)-(3); see also Harris v. Bankers Life & Cas. Co., 425 F.3d 689, 692-93 (9th Cir. 2005).

         The thirty-day clock begins running when the defendant is served with the initial complaint when “the case stated by the initial pleading is removable on its face.” Harris, 425 F.3d at 694. In other words, the “ground for removal must be revealed affirmatively in the initial pleading in order for the first thirty-day clock . . . to begin.” Id. at 695. If the case as stated by the initial complaint is not removable on its face, the thirty-day clock does not begin to run until the defendant receives “an amended pleading, motion, order or other paper” from which it may first be ascertained that the case is removable. 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(3); Harris, 425 F.3d at 697 (“Once defendant is on notice of removability, the thirty-day period begins to run.”).

         III. Discussion

         A. Motion to Remand

         In removing this case, Defendant invoked the Court's diversity jurisdiction, which applies when the plaintiff and defendant are citizens of different states and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. NOR ¶¶ 6-12; see 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). There is no dispute that these requirements are met in this case. An individual party is a citizen of the state in which he is domiciled-that is, the state where he “resides with the intention to remain” or where he “intends to return.” Kanter v. Warner-Lambert Co., 265 F.3d 853, 857 (9th Cir. 2001). Because Plaintiff lives in California and does not intend to move, he is domiciled in the state. See generally Pl's Special Interrogatory Resp. A corporation is a citizen of its state(s) of incorporation and the state where it has its principal place of business. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c). Defendant is incorporated in Delaware and has its principal place of business in Arkansas, so it is a citizen of Delaware and Arkansas. See NOR ¶ 9. The parties are therefore completely diverse. Additionally, for purposes of jurisdiction, Defendant does not dispute Plaintiff's second statement of damages, which places more than $75, 000 in controversy.

         The only issue presented by Plaintiff's motion to remand is whether Defendant's removal was untimely. See generally Mot. Defendant removed the case within thirty days of Plaintiff's serving a second statement of damages on Defendant. See NOR. The question is whether Defendant was on notice of ...


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