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Jere Enterprises LLC v. City of Bellevue

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

February 6, 2018

JERE ENTERPRISES LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF BELLEVUE, Defendant.

          ORDER

          HONORABLE RICHARD A. JONES JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Remand. Dkt. # 14. Defendant opposes the motion. Dkt. # 18. For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES the Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         According to its complaint, Plaintiff sought to develop on its properties, and approached Defendant for an evaluation of the properties. Dkt. # 1 (Compl.) at ¶¶ 3.1-2. Plaintiff submitted its permit application to Defendant, and worked diligently with Defendant to obtain its substantive review. Id. at ¶ 3.2. Defendant allegedly cancelled Plaintiff's initial permit application. Id. Plaintiff appealed Defendant's decision to cancel the application. Id. The parties resolved the issue through a judicially approved stipulation, and agreed that Plaintiff would submit another permit application to Defendant for an evaluation of the properties. Id. at ¶ 3.3. After submitting its second permit application, Plaintiff had multiple communications with Defendant regarding the status of the application. Id. at ¶¶ 3.5, 3.7-11. Several weeks passed without a response from Defendant about the status of the application. Id. at ¶ 3.14. Plaintiff further alleges that it learned that Defendant had issued its evaluation of Plaintiff's properties without proper notification to Plaintiff or its authorized agent as required by Washington law. Id. at ¶ 3.15. Because Defendant failed to provide proper notice, Plaintiff missed the deadline to appeal Defendant's decision regarding its evaluation of the properties. Id. at ¶ 3.16.

         On August 4, 2016, Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant in King County Superior Court. Plaintiff alleged claims of procedural due process under the Bellevue Land Use Code, Washington Constitution, U.S. Constitution, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Dkt. # 1 (Compl.) at ¶¶ 4.3, 4.4, 5.3, and 6.3. On August 19, 2016, Defendant filed a notice of removal with the Court asserting federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(c). Id. at 2.

         Plaintiff now seeks an order remanding its claims to state court. Dkt. # 14. Plaintiff argues that the Court should decline supplemental jurisdiction because its claims involve novel and complex issues of state law, and its state law claims substantially predominate over its federal claims. Id. at 3. Alternatively, Plaintiff moves the Court to remand by abstention, invoking the Pullman abstention doctrine. Id. at 4. Defendant argues that remand is not appropriate because Plaintiff's claims involve the same nucleus of facts, and Plaintiff's claims do not support Pullman abstention. Dkt. # 18 at 1.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Removal jurisdiction is strictly construed in favor of remand, and any doubt as to the right of removal must be resolved in favor of remand. Harris v. Bankers Life & Cas. Co., 425 F.3d 689, 698 (9th Cir. 2005). The party seeking a federal forum has the burden of establishing that federal jurisdiction is proper. Abrego Abrego v. Dow Chem. Co., 443 F.3d 676, 682-83 (9th Cir. 2006). The removing party must carry this burden not only at the time of removal, but also in opposition to a motion for remand. See Moore-Thomas v. Alaska Airlines, Inc., 553 F.3d 1241, 1244 (9th Cir. 2009). “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).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         Defendant timely removed this case from state court to federal court based upon Plaintiff's claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Dkt. # 1 (Compl.) at ¶¶ 4.3, 4.4, 5.3, and 6.3. Federal question jurisdiction is proper when civil actions arise under the Constitution, laws, or treatises of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 1331. A civil action that originated in state court may be removed from state court to federal court if original jurisdiction exists in the federal court at the time the complaint is filed. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). The Court has original jurisdiction over Plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331(a). Therefore, subject matter jurisdiction is proper.

         B. Supplemental Jurisdiction

         Plaintiff argues that its state law claims warrant remand. Courts have supplemental jurisdiction over state law claims that are “so related” to the claims over which the court has original jurisdiction that “they form part of the same case or controversy under Article III of the United States Constitution.” 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). A state law claim is part of the same case or controversy when it shares a “common nucleus of operative fact” with the federal claims and the state and federal claims would normally be tried together. Bahrampour v. Lampert, 356 F.3d 969, 978 (9th Cir. 2004).

         On its face, Plaintiff's complaint presents a federal question: Plaintiff alleges that Defendant violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the U.S. Constitution. Dkt. # 1 (Compl.) at ¶¶ 4.3, 4.4, 5.3, and 6.3. Plaintiff also alleges claims under the Bellevue Land Use Code and Washington Constitution. Id. Plaintiff's state law claims arise out of the same nucleus of operative facts as its federal claims-that Defendant violated Plaintiff's procedural due process rights when it failed to provide proper notice of its evaluation of Plaintiff's ...


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