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Khoury v. Ilyia

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

March 22, 2017

MAROUN EL KHOURY and SOPHIE EL KHOURY, Plaintiffs,
v.
ELIAS ILYIA, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Honorable Richard A. Jones United States District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand. Dkt. # 5. For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS the motion.

         II. BACKGROUND

         On March 12, 2015, Plaintiffs served their Complaint on Defendant in California, and on April 9, 2015, Plaintiffs filed their Complaint in King County Superior Court. Dkt. # 6-1.

         Defendant admitted in his Answer and his Amended Answer to Plaintiffs' Complaint that he was “a resident of King County, Washington with a primary residence in Kent, Washington.” Id. at Exs. 10, 11. During a September 8, 2015 deposition in this matter, Defendant stated he was domiciled in Washington, but resided in California. Id. at Ex. 22. However, on April 18, 2016, Defendant submitted a declaration stating his intention to change his residence; “it is my intention upon my return of this trip to Lebanon to reside again in Trabucco Canyon, California.” Id. at Ex. 12. Until this point in time, Plaintiffs assert they did not know Defendant intended to remain in California and not Washington. Dkt. # 5 at 5.

         In May 2016, Plaintiffs feared that Defendant would evade a judgment for damages by attempting to relocate out of the country and sell his Washington property. Dkt. # 6-6. As such, Plaintiffs filed and served a Motion for a Prejudgment Writ of Attachment on Defendant's property. Id. Plaintiffs' Prejudgment Writ of Attachment included an amount in controversy of $2, 500, 000.00. Id.

         On August 8, 2016, during a hearing on the Motion for a Prejudgment Writ of Attachment, the Honorable Veronica Galvan found that Defendant no longer resided in Washington. Dkt. # 6-13 at 191. Specifically, she found that “[t]he defendant does not reside in Washington. This is no longer his usual place of abode for the last four years, according to his own statement . . . [h]e has an intent to be a resident of California.” Id. Relying on Judge Galvan's ruling that Defendant did not intend to stay in Washington, Defendant filed a Notice of Removal to this Court on September 7, 2016.[1] Dkt. # 1.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         “Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction.” Heacock v. Rolling Frito-Lay Sales, LP, No. C16-0829-JCC, 2016 WL 4009849, at *1 (W.D. Wash. July 27, 2016); see 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331-1332. District courts have “original jurisdiction” for causes of action that exceed an amount in controversy of $75, 000.00 and where there is complete diversity between the parties. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). An individual is a citizen of the state in which he is domiciled, not his state of residence. Kanter v. Warner-Lambert Co., 265 F.3d 853, 857 (9th Cir. 2001). A “corporation is a citizen of any state where it is incorporated and of the state where it has its principal place of business.” Heacock, 2016 WL 4009849, at *1 (quoting Indus. Tectonics, Inc. v. Aero Alloy, 912 F.2d 1090, 1092 (9th Cir. 1990)).

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441, a defendant may remove a case from state court to federal court if the case becomes removable on the basis of diversity, even though the case lacked diversity of citizenship at the time it was filed.[2] See 28 U.S.C. § 1441. However, a defendant may not remove a case based on diversity jurisdiction more than one year after the action has commenced, “unless the district court finds that the plaintiff has acted in bad faith in order to prevent a defendant from removing the action.” 28 U.S.C. § 1446(c).

         Removal statutes are construed restrictively, and the removing defendant bears the burden of establishing that removal is proper. Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566-67 (9th Cir. 1992). Any doubts as to the right of removal are resolved in favor of remanding the case to state court. Id.; see also Zazueta v. Nationstar Mortgage LLC, No. 3:16-CV-05893-RJB, 2017 WL 74682, at *1 (W.D. Wash. Jan. 9, 2017).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         A. Bad ...


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