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Uber USA LLC v. Cooper

United States District Court, D. Arizona

September 26, 2019

Uber USA LLC, Plaintiff,
Brian Cooper, et al., Defendants.


          David G. Campbell, Senior United States District Judge

         Plaintiff has filed a motion to remand (Doc. 8) and a motion to stay further proceedings pending remand (Doc. 17).[1] The motion to remand is fully briefed (Docs. 14, 15) and oral argument has not been requested. The Court will grant the motion and remand this action to state court. The motion to stay will be denied as moot.[2]

         I. Removal and Remand Standards.

         Any civil action over which the federal district courts have jurisdiction may be removed from state court to the federal court for the district where the action is pending. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Courts strictly construe the statute against removal jurisdiction. See Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc. v. Henson, 537 U.S. 28, 32 (2002); Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). Indeed, there is a “strong presumption” against removal, and “[f]ederal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance.” Gaus, 980 F.2d at 566. This strong presumption “means that the defendant always has the burden of establishing that removal is proper.” Id. “If at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded.” 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).

         II. Discussion.

         On July 8, 2019, Plaintiffs filed an action in state court seeking to declare Defendants vexatious litigants. Doc. 1-1 at 3. Plaintiffs personally served Defendants the same day. Doc. 8 at 2. Defendants filed their notice of removal on August 13, 2019. Doc. 1. Because Defendants’ notice was filed more than 30 days after service, it is untimely, and the Court will accordingly grant Plaintiff’s motion to remand. See 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b); see also Babasa v. LensCrafters, Inc., 498 F.3d 972, 974 (9th Cir. 2007) (where a notice of removal “is filed after [the] [30]-day window, it is untimely and remand to state court is therefore appropriate.”).[3]

         Even if the notice of removal had been timely filed, the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to hear this case. Diversity jurisdiction has two requirements: (1) complete diversity of citizenship between the parties, and (2) an amount in controversy exceeding $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). While there appears to be complete diversity between the parties (Doc. 8 at 1), it is not evident that the amount in controversy has been met. Uber is not seeking monetary relief, but rather an administrative order declaring Defendants vexatious litigants. Doc. 8 at 4. As Plaintiff notes, Defendants allege no value to such an order. Id. It is also not evident how the underlying dispute between the parties – claims that Defendants were overcharged $7.70 for an Uber ride – can plausibly give rise to an amount in controversy over the $75, 000 jurisdictional threshold. Because Defendants have not established the requisite amount in controversy, diversity jurisdiction does not exist.[4]

         Nor can Defendants establish federal question jurisdiction. Federal question jurisdiction arises from cases in which a plaintiff’s well-pleaded complaint establishes a cause of action either arising out of federal law or where Plaintiff’s state law claim depends on a substantial question of federal law. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331; Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline Co. v. An Exclusive Gas Storage Leasehold and Easement, 524 F.3d 1090, 1102 (9th Cir. 2008) (quoting Grable & Sons Metal Prods., Inc. v. Darue Eng’g & Mfg., 545 U.S. 308, 312, 313) (“the state claim must ‘turn on substantial questions of federal law, ’ and ‘really and substantially involv[e] a dispute or controversy respecting the validity, construction or effect of [federal] law.’”). Plaintiff contends that this case must be remanded because the underlying action is a stand-alone application filed pursuant to a Maricopa County Superior Court Administrative Order, with no federal law issues. Doc. 8 at 5. In response, Defendants vaguely contend that Plaintiff “violated federal and state privacy laws, the electronic funds transfer Act, the financial modernization Act of 1999, Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act Financial Privacy Act . . . Section 5, or the FTC Act, FCPA[.]” Doc. 14 at 8. But Plaintiff’s state court petition, which is the controlling document for purposes of federal question jurisdiction, asserts none of these federal issues, and Defendants’ counterclaim cannot form the basis for removal. See Holmes Group, Inc. v. Vornado Air Circulation Sys., Inc., 535 U.S. 826, 831 (2002). The Court accordingly finds no basis for federal question jurisdiction.

         IT IS ORDERED:

         1. Plaintiff’s motion to remand (Doc. 8) is granted.

         2. Plaintiff’s motion to stay further proceedings pending remand (Doc. 17) is denied as moot.

         3. Plaintiff’s request for attorneys’ fees is denied.

         4. The Clerk is directed to remand ...

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