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Peck v. First Student, Inc

United States District Court, D. Oregon

August 2, 2017

CHELSEA PECK, individually and on behalf of all similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
FIRST STUDENT, INC., a foreign corporation, and FIRST STUDENT MANAGEMENT, LLC, a foreign limited liability company, Defendants.

          David A. Schuck, Stephanie J. Brown, and Karen A. Moore, Schuck Law, LLC, 9208 NE Highway 99, Number 107-84, Vancouver, WA 98665. Of Attorneys for Plaintiff.

          Adam E. Brauner and Jennifer Warberg, Littler Mendelson, P.C., 121 SW Morrison, Suite 900, Portland, OR 97204. Of Attorneys for Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          MICHAEL H. SIMON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Chelsea Peck filed a putative class action complaint in the Circuit Court of the State of Oregon for the County of Multnomah. Plaintiff asserts one claim for relief against Defendants First Student, Inc. and First Student Management, LLC, for unpaid wages under Oregon Revised Statutes § 652.150, and attorney's fees under Oregon Revised Statutes § 652.200. Defendants removed the case to this Court, asserting both federal question and diversity jurisdiction. Defendants assert federal question jurisdiction based on Plaintiff's allegation in her Complaint that Defendants are subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Defendants assert diversity jurisdiction based on Plaintiff's allegation of $3, 900 in damages and Defendants' statement that the jurisdictional threshold will be met with future attorney's fees incurred in this action.

         Before the Court is Plaintiff's motion to remand. Plaintiff argues that the Court does not have federal question jurisdiction because her claim arises solely under state law and does not depend on the resolution of any issue of federal law. Plaintiff further argues that the Court does not have diversity jurisdiction because Defendants fail to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff's motion to remand is granted.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         A civil action generally may be removed from state court to federal court if the federal district court would have had original, subject matter jurisdiction over the case. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Subject matter jurisdiction may be based on either diversity jurisdiction or federal question jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332.

         Diversity jurisdiction exists over all civil actions when the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000 and there is complete diversity among all plaintiffs and defendants. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). “[D]iversity jurisdiction does not exist unless each defendant is a citizen of a different State from each plaintiff.” Owen Equip. & Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, 373 (1978) (emphasis in original).

         The presence or absence of federal question jurisdiction “is governed by the ‘well-pleaded complaint rule, ' which provides that federal jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is presented on the face of plaintiff's properly pleaded complaint.” Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987). For an action to be removed on the basis of federal question jurisdiction, the complaint must establish either that federal law creates the cause of action or that the plaintiff's right to relief necessarily depends on the resolution of substantial questions of federal law. Franchise Tax Bd. of Cal. v. Constr. Laborers Vacation Trust for S. Cal., 463 U.S. 1, 10-11 (1983).

         A motion to remand is the proper procedure for a plaintiff to use when challenging removal. 28 U.S.C. § 1447; see also Moore-Thomas v. Ala. Airlines, Inc., 553 F.3d 1241, 1244 (9th Cir. 2009). The party seeking removal bears the burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that removal is proper. Moore-Thomas, 553 F.3d at 1244.

         B. Federal Question Jurisdiction

         Plaintiff alleges only one cause of action, and it is based solely on state law. Thus, federal law does not create the cause of action brought by Plaintiff. Defendants argue, however, that Plaintiff's state law cause of action necessarily requires the interpretation and application of the ADA, a federal statute.

         In her Complaint, Plaintiff states two allegations relating to the ADA. The first is in paragraph 12, which states: “Defendants are subject to the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and amendments thereto.” ECF 1-1 at 4. The second is in paragraph 38(c), which alleges that questions common to the putative class include: “Whether Defendants are required to comply with the ...


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