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Assaye v. United Airlines, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

October 30, 2017

ABI ASSAYE, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED AIRLINES, INC., Defendant.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION TO DENY PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTION TO REMOVAL

          Kevin S.C. Chang, United States Magistrate Judge

         On October 10, 2017, Plaintiff Abi Assaye (“Plaintiff”) filed an Objection to Removal (“Objection”), which the Court construes as a Motion to Remand. At the Court's direction, Defendant United Airlines, Inc. (“Defendant”) filed an Opposition on October 20, 2017, and a Supplemental Opposition on October 27, 2017.

         The Court finds this matter suitable for disposition without a hearing pursuant to Rule 7.2(d) of the Local Rules of Practice for the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii. After careful consideration of the parties' submissions and the applicable law, the Court HEREBY RECOMMENDS that the Objection be DENIED for the reasons articulated below.

         BACKGROUND

         On September 7, 2017, Plaintiff commenced this action in the Circuit Court of the First Circuit, State of Hawaii.

         On October 3, 2017, Defendant filed a Notice of Removal (“Notice”). Defendant subsequently filed a Motion to Dismiss Complaint on October 9, 2017. The present Objection followed.

         DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff seeks remand of this action to state court on two grounds: 1) there are no federal claims asserted in the Complaint and 2) diversity of citizenship is lacking because Defendant is a citizen of Hawaii given that it conducts business within the State.

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441, a defendant may remove a civil action brought in a state court to federal district court if the district court has original jurisdiction. Abrego Abrego v. The Dow Chemical Co., 443 F.3d 676, 679-80 (9th Cir. 2006). “Removal . . . statutes are ‘strictly construed, ' and a ‘defendant seeking removal has the burden to establish that removal is proper and any doubt is resolved against removability.'” Hawaii ex rel. Louie v. HSBC Bank Nevada, N.A., 761 F.3d 1027, 1034 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting Luther v. Countrywide Home Loans Serv. LP, 533 F.3d 1031, 1034 (9th Cir.2008)); Durham v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 445 F.3d 1247, 1252 (9th Cir. 2006); California ex rel. Lockyer v. Dynegy, Inc., 375 F.3d 831, 838 (9th Cir. 2004).

         There is a strong presumption against removal jurisdiction, which “means that the defendant always has the burden of establishing that removal is proper, ' and that the court resolves all ambiguity in favor of remand to state court.” Hunter v. Philip Morris USA, 582 F.3d 1039, 1042 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (per curiam)); California ex rel. Lockyer, 375 F.3d at 838 (“[T]he burden of establishing federal jurisdiction falls to the party invoking the statute.”); Durham, 445 F.3d at 1252 (Courts resolve any doubts about the propriety of removal in favor of remanding the case to state court). Courts should presume that a case lies outside the limited jurisdiction of the federal courts. Hunter, 582 F.3d at 1042.

         A. Defendant did not Remove Based on the Existence of a Federal Question

         Plaintiff's argument concerning the lack of a federal claim is untenable. Defendant removed this action on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. Accordingly, the absence a federal claim does not provide a basis for remand.

         B. Diversity Jurisdiction Exists

         Defendant alleges that diversity jurisdiction exists because the parties are diverse and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. In an effort to refute the existence of diversity jurisdiction, Plaintiff contends that “[u]nder the long arm statute the [sic] State of Hawaii, Defendant United is a ...


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