United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
DANA SYRIA, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
ALLIANCEONE RECEIVABLES MANAGEMENT, INC.; and TRANSWORLD SYSTEMS INC., Defendants.
following Minute Order is made by direction of the Court, the
Honorable Thomas S. Zilly, United States District Judge:
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit having
denied the petition for permission to appeal submitted by
defendant AllianceOne Receivables Management, Inc.
(“AllianceOne”), see Order (docket no.
40), and more than fourteen (14) days having since elapsed,
the Court hereby LIFTS the stay of this matter that was
imposed by the Minute Order entered October 10, 2017, docket
Plaintiff's motion to remand, docket no. 18, is DENIED.
No dispute exists that the original complaint filed in August
2015 in King County Superior Court, docket no. 5-1, contained
no class allegations or basis for jurisdiction under the
Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”), and thus, did
not start the 30-day clock for removal. See 28
U.S.C. § 1446(b)(1). The issue before the Court is what,
if anything, triggered the 30-day period for removal under 28
U.S.C. § 1446(b)(3), which indicates that, “if the
case stated by the initial pleading is not removable, a
notice of removal may be filed within 30 days after receipt
by the defendant, through service or otherwise, of a copy of
an amended pleading, motion, order or other paper from which
it may first be ascertained that the case is one which is or
has become removable.” Plaintiff filed an amended
complaint asserting class allegations on June 13, 2016, but
did not plead a specific amount of damages sought.
See 1st Am. Compl. (docket nos. 1-1 & 8-1). No
contention has been made that the deadline for removal was 30
days after the amended complaint was filed. Instead,
plaintiff asserts that the 30-day timer began running on
either December 19, 2016, when AllianceOne responded to
plaintiff's fourth set of requests for production, or
January 23, 2017, when plaintiff served answers to
AllianceOne's first set of requests for admissions,
interrogatories, and requests for production. Plaintiff's
argument lacks merit. AllianceOne's discovery responses
do not constitute an amended pleading, motion, order, or
other paper that was received by, rather than served
by, AllianceOne, see 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(3),
and plaintiff's answers to AllianceOne's first set of
discovery requests, Ex. 4 to Notice of Removal (docket no.
1-1), outline only the damages that plaintiff individually
seeks, and not the amount pursued on behalf of the class.
Cf. Jordan v. Nationstar Mortg. LLC, 781 F.3d 1178,
1184 (9th Cir. 2015) (concluding that case became removable
under CAFA only after the plaintiff specified in answers to
the defendant's interrogatories that the total amount in
controversy exceeded $25 million). In her reply, plaintiff
contends that the 30-day clock might also have commenced on
February 16, 2017, when plaintiff's counsel submitted a
declaration, docket nos. 11-2 & 30-2, in opposition to
AllianceOne's unsuccessful motion for summary judgment.
AllianceOne's motion to strike, docket no. 31,
plaintiff's reliance on the February 2017 declaration is
GRANTED because the argument was improperly raised for the
first time in a reply brief. Moreover, the amount set forth
in the February 2017 declaration was merely $3, 342, 806,
Anderson Decl. at ¶ 7 (docket nos. 11-2 & 30-2),
which is less than the jurisdictional amount of $5, 000, 000,
see 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2).
Plaintiff's and defendant Transworld Systems Inc.'s
motion, docket no. 36, for reconsideration is DENIED as moot.
The stay of this matter having been lifted, plaintiff and
Transworld Systems Inc. may pursue in this forum preliminary
approval of, and other steps toward perfecting, their
Clerk is directed to send a copy of this Minute Order to all
counsel of record.
 Plaintiff takes issue with
AllianceOne's theory that the 30-day clock for removal
was never triggered, arguing that AllianceOne could have
itself ascertained the amount in controversy and removed the
action earlier than July 28, 2017. Plaintiff cites no case,
however, to support the proposition that a defendant's
own investigation and/or calculation starts the 30-day
removal period. As explained by the Ninth Circuit:
[D]efendants may sometimes be able to delay filing a
notice of removal until it is strategically advantageous to
do so. In a non-CAFA diversity case, the advantage gained
through such gamesmanship is limited by the fact that a
notice of removal must be filed, in any event, within one
year of the commencement of the action. However, in a CAFA
case, there is no such time limit. A CAFA case may be removed
at any time, provided that neither of the two thirty-day
periods under § 1446(b)(1) and (b)(3) has been
triggered. . . . [P]laintiffs are in a position to protect
themselves. If plaintiffs think that their action may be
removable and think, further, that the defendant might delay
filing a notice of removal until a strategically advantageous
moment, they need only provide to the defendant a document
from which removability may be ascertained. Such a document
will trigger the thirty-day removal period, during which
defendant must either file a notice of removal or lose the
right to remove.
Roth v. CHA Hollywood Med. Ctr., L.P., 720
F.3d 1121, 1126 (9th Cir. 2013) (citations omitted); see
Rea v. Michaels Stores Inc., 742 F.3d 1234, 1238 (9th
Cir. 2014) (“as long as the complaint or ‘an
amended pleading, motion, order or other paper' does not
reveal that the case is removable, the 30-day time period
never starts to run and the defendant may remove at any
time”); see also Goodman v. Wells Fargo Bank,
602 Fed. App'x 681 (9th Cir. 2015) (vacating district
court's order remanding action to state court).
 Plaintiff's reliance on Garcia
v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., 207 F.Supp.3d 1114 (C.D. Cal.
2016), is misplaced. In Garcia, the district court
granted the plaintiffs' motion to remand because the
defendant failed to show by a preponderance of the evidence
that the amount in controversy met the CAFA threshold.
Id. at 1120-26. Plaintiff does not argue that
AllianceOne has similarly failed to establish the requisite
amount in controversy. The Garcia Court's
discussion about the ...