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Allision v. Dolich

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division

December 16, 2014

NANCY ALLISION and HOLLY BURNEY, Plaintiffs,
v.
SCOTT DOLICH and PARK KITCHEN LLC, an Oregon limited liability company, Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

JOHN V. ACOSTA, Magistrate Judge.

Introduction

Presently before the court is the motion to remand this action to state court filed by plaintiffs Nancy Allison and Holly Burney (collectively "Plaintiffs"). Plaintiffs argue the removal of this action by defendants Park Kitchen LLC, an Oregon limited liability company ("Park"), and Scott Dolich ("Dolich") (collectively "Defendants"), was procedurally deficient and their claims do not involve a controversy arising under the laws of the United States as required under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a).

The court finds the procedural deficiencies do not warrant remand but this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the claims alleged in the complaint. Accordingly, Plaintiffs' motion to remand is granted.[1]

Background

Plaintiffs filed this action in the Circuit Court of the State of Oregon for the County on Multnomah on June 23, 2014, alleging violations of Oregon's wage and hour laws, as well as other common-law claims. Defendants removed the action to this court on July 24, 2014, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), asserting Plaintiff's claims for conversion, minimum wage violations, and unjust enrichment are based squarely on the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219) (the "Act"). In the Notice of Removal ("Notice"), Defendants represent "[n]otice of this removal will promptly be served on Plaintiffs and the Clerk of the State of Oregon for the County of Multnomah, " and "[i]n compliance with 28 U.S.C. § 1446(a), true and correct copies of all process, pleadings and orders served in this action, including the Summon and Complaint (Exhibit 1), are attached hereto." (Defs.' Notice of Removal under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1441 ("Defs.'Notice") 3.) The documents attached to the Notice include the Individual and Class Action Complaint filed in state court (the "Complaint"), the summons issued to Park, a declaration of mailing of the Complaint and summons to Park, and affidavits of service establishing service of the Complaint and summons on Park and Dolich on June 25, 2014. (Compl. Ex. 1.)

Legal Standard

28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) provides that "any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant or the defendants, to the district court of the United States for the district and division embracing the place where such action is pending." Such removal can be based on either diversity jurisdiction or federal question jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441(b) and (c) (2014). When a plaintiff feels that an action has been improperly removed to federal court, a motion to remand is appropriate. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) provides:

If at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded. An order remanding the case may require payment of just costs and any actual expenses, including attorney fees, incurred as a result of the removal.

The removal statute is strictly construed and any doubt about the right of removal is resolved in favor of remand. Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). The presumption against removal jurisdiction means "the defendant always has the burden of establishing that removal is proper." Id. Discussion

I. Procedural Deficiencies

Plaintiffs assert that by failing to file the Notice with the state court or the summons issued to Dolich with this court, Defendants have not complied with the procedural requirements for removal found in 28 U.S.C. § 1446. Plaintiffs argue these procedural deficiencies require remand of this action to state court. Defendants assert that the procedural deficiencies are de minimis, may be cured, and do not require remand.

The remand statute differentiates between procedural defects and lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The statute provides that procedural defects may be waived if not asserted within thirty days of the filing of a notice of removal, while lack of subject matter jurisdiction may be raised anytime, or even sua sponte by the court, and requires immediate remand. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) (2014).[2] The Ninth Circuit has held where the procedural defect is de minimis, such as failure to attach an original complaint as well as the operative amended complaint to the notice of removal, the defect was curable even after the thirty-day removal period. Kuxhausen v. BMW Financial Services NA LLC, 707 F.3d 1136, 1142 (9th Cir. 2013). The court relied, in part, on "a leading treatise" which explained that "both the failure to file all the state court ...


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