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Inciyan v. The City of Carlsbad

United States District Court, S.D. California

January 8, 2020

MAKSUT MAX INCIYAN, in individual and representative capacity as trustee of the Inciyan Family Trust, Plaintiff,
v.
THE CITY OF CARLSBAD; and ROES 1 through 20, Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT FOR LACK OF SUBJECT-MATTER JURISDICTION (ECF NO. 1)

          HON. JANIS L. SAMMARTINO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Presently before the Court is the Complaint Against the City of Carlsbad for indemnification, comparative indemnity, declaratory relief, contribution, and affirmative injunction filed by Plaintiff Maksut Max Inciyan, individually and in his representative capacity as trustee of the Inciyan Family Trust, see generally ECF No. 1 (“Compl.”), as well as the Parties' briefs filed in response to the Court's December 19, 2019 Order to Show Cause, ECF No. 4. See ECF Nos. 8 (“Pl.'s Resp.”), 9 (“Def.'s Resp.”), 10 (“Pl.'s Reply”). Having carefully considered Plaintiff's Complaint, the Parties' arguments, and the law, the Court DISMISSES Plaintiff's Complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         “[T]his court has an independent obligation to address sua sponte whether [it] ha[s] subject matter jurisdiction.” Allstate Ins. Co. v. Hughes, 358 F.3d 1089, 1093 (9th Cir. 2004) (citing Dittman v. California, 191 F.3d 1020, 1025 (9th Cir. 1999)). “Federal district courts are courts of limited jurisdiction that ‘may not grant relief absent a constitutional or valid statutory grant of jurisdiction' and are ‘presumed to lack jurisdiction in a particular case unless the contrary affirmatively appears.'” Cooper v. Tokyo Elec. Power Co., 990 F.Supp.2d 1035, 1038 (S.D. Cal. 2013) (quoting A-Z Int'l v. Phillips, 323 F.3d 1141, 1145 (9th Cir. 2003)).

         Generally, subject matter jurisdiction is based on the presence of a federal question, see 28 U.S.C. § 1331, or on complete diversity of citizenship between the parties. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, courts have diversity jurisdiction when the “matter in controversy exceeds . . . $75, 000 . . . and is between . . . [¶] citizens of different States.” Federal courts have federal question jurisdiction for “all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

         “Federal-question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 arises in two situations.” Cummings v. Cenergy Int'l Servs., LLC, 258 F.Supp.3d 1097, 1106 (E.D. Cal. 2017). “First, a court may exercise federal-question jurisdiction where a federal right or immunity is ‘an element, and an essential one, of the plaintiff's cause of action.'” Id. (quoting Franchise Tax Bd. v. Constr. Laborers Vacation Trust for S. Cal., 463 U.S. 1, 11 (1983)). “Second, federal-question jurisdiction arises where a state-law claim ‘necessarily raise[s] a stated federal issue, actually disputed and substantial, which a federal forum may entertain without disturbing any congressionally approved balance of federal and state judicial responsibilities.'” Id. (quoting Grable & Sons Metal Prod., Inc. v. Darue Eng'g & Mfg., 545 U.S. 308, 314 (2005)).

         “To assess federal-question jurisdiction, courts apply the ‘well-pleaded complaint' rule under which ‘federal jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is presented on the face of the plaintiff's properly pleaded complaint.'” Id. (quoting Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 391-92 (1987)). “A defense is not a part of a plaintiff's properly pleaded statement of his or her claim.” Id. (quoting Rivet v. Regions Bank, 522 U.S. 470, 475 (1998)).

         BACKGROUND

         On December 10, 2018, Chris Langer filed a complaint against Mr. Inciyan for damages and injunctive relief for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq., and the Unruh Civil Rights Act, California Civil Code §§ 51-53. See Complaint, Langer v. Inciyan et al. (“Langer”), No. 18CV2767 JLS (MSB) (S.D. Cal. filed Dec. 10, 2018), ECF No. 1 (“Langer Compl.”). Mr. Langer alleged that “there is no compliant parking space marked and reserved for persons with disabilities at [Mr. Inciyan's] Restaurant.” Langer Compl. ¶ 13.

         On July 12, 2019, Mr. Inciyan sought leave to implead the City of Carlsbad in Langer. See Motion for Leave to File Third Party Complaint, Langer (filed July 12, 2019), ECF No. 19 (“Langer Mot.”). The Court denied Mr. Inciyan's motion on December 2, 2019. See Order Denying Defendant's Motion for Leave to File Third-Party Complaint, Langer (filed Dec. 2, 2019), ECF No. 25 (“Langer Order”).

         On December 10, 2019, Mr. Inciyan filed the instant Complaint against the City of Carlsbad, alleging five causes of action for indemnification, comparative indemnity, declaratory relief, contribution, and an affirmative injunction. See generally ECF No. 1 (“Compl.”). Mr. Inciyan's case was transferred to this Court pursuant to this District's low-number rule as related to Langer. See ECF No. 3. Following the transfer, the Court ordered Mr. Inciyan to show cause why this action should not be dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. See ECF No. 4.

         ANALYSIS

         Mr. Inciyan claims that “[j]urisdiction is proper based on the existence of a federal question.” Pl.'s Resp. at 2. Specifically, “[t]he relief sought by INCIYAN, including declaratory and injunctive relief, arises under the rights and duties of the parties under the ADA[, ] which confers federal jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, ” id., because “INCIYAN is praying that the City of Carlsbad be compelled to comply with the ADA.” Id. at 7. Mr. Inciyan contends that “the action sought to be coerced by the [Langer] Matter cannot be undertook without a declaration of the rights and obligations as between INCIYAN and the CITY with respect to compliance with the ADA.” Id. at 5.

         The City of Carlsbad responds that “there is no subject matter jurisdiction” here because “[f]ederal law clearly does not create the basis for [Mr. Inciyan's] causes of action [for indemnification, comparative immunity, and contribution, which] are state law claims.” Def.'s Resp. at 3. Mr. Inciyan's causes of action for declaratory and injunctive relief are not causes of action, see Id. at 2 n.1, 3 n.2, and-as currently pled-do not “arise under Title II [of the ADA] but rather state common law indemnity rights.” Id. at 4 (citing Compl. ¶¶ 23-25). Further, “no federal question jurisdiction would exist even if Inciyan sought declaratory relief on the issue of the City's obligations under Title II of the ADA, ” id., because “there still would be neither a case or controversy nor an independent basis for federal question jurisdiction because there can be no violation of Title II of the ADA vis-a-vi[s] Inciyan and the City.” Id. ...


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