United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
Honorable Richard A. Jones United States District Judge
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to
Remand. Dkt. # 10. Defendant opposes the Motion. Dkt. # 12.
For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's Motion to Remand
is DENIED. Dkt. # 10.
November 28, 2017, Plaintiff, the State of Washington, filed
this action in King County Superior Court against Defendant
Matheson Flight Extenders, Inc. Dkt. # 1. Plaintiff's
Complaint asserts claims against Defendant for disability and
sex discrimination in violation of the Washington Law Against
Discrimination (“WLAD”), Wash. Rev. Code §
49.60.130(1)(a). Dkt. # 1-2. As an example of Defendant's
allegedly unlawful policies and practices, Plaintiff alleges
that Defendant formerly employed a woman named Ambreada
Richardson. Id. at ¶ 4.1. After Richardson
discovered she was pregnant, her physician advised her to
work light or modified duty. Id. at ¶ 4.3. When
she informed her manager, she was informed that Defendant
offered modified duty for injuries that “occur on the
job but typically not for pregnancies.” Id. at
¶ 4.5. Defendant then placed Richardson on an unpaid
leave of absence and subsequently terminated her employment.
Id. at ¶ 4.7. Plaintiff seeks declaratory and
injunctive relief, as well as damages “for each person
aggrieved” by Defendant's conduct. Id. at
¶¶ 6.1-6.6. On December 27, 2017, Defendant removed
the matter to this District, asserting federal jurisdiction
on the basis of diversity of citizenship of the parties. Dkt.
# 1. Defendant filed an Amended Notice of Removal on January
12, 2018, again asserting that this Court had diversity
jurisdiction over this case. Dkt. # 8. Plaintiff then filed
this Motion to Remand. Dkt. # 10.
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). Pursuant to the
“well-pleaded complaint rule, ” federal-question
jurisdiction exists “only when a federal question is
presented on the face of the plaintiff's properly pleaded
complaint.” Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482
U.S. 386, 392 (1987).
asserts that this Court has jurisdiction over this matter on
the basis of diversity of citizenship of the parties. The
Court has diversity jurisdiction over civil actions where the
amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000 and the case is
between citizens of different states. 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
“For the purposes of diversity jurisdiction, ‘a
State is not a citizen of itself.'” Dep't
of Fair Employment & Hous. v. Lucent Techs., Inc.,
642 F.3d 728, 737 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting Atascadero
State Hosp. v. Scanlon, 473 U.S. 234, 291 n. 44, 105
S.Ct. 3142, 87 L.Ed.2d 171 (1985))
(“Lucent”). Therefore, a state or a
state agency cannot be a party to a diversity action.
Fifty Assocs. v. Prudential Ins. Co., 446 F.2d 1187,
1191 (9th Cir. 1970). “[T]he mere presence on the
record of the state as a party plaintiff will not defeat the
jurisdiction of the Federal court when it appears that the
state has no real interest in the controversy.”
Lucent, 642 F.3d at 737 (internal quotations and
citations omitted). If a State has only “the general
interest it holds on behalf of all its citizens and their
welfare, it [does] not satisfy the ‘real party to the
controversy requirement for the purposes of defeating
diversity' jurisdiction.” Nevada v. Bank of Am.
Corp., 672 F.3d 661, 670 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting
Lucent, 642 F.3d at 737). In making this
determination, courts consider the substantive state law.
Lucent, 642 F.3d at 738.
cites to the Ninth Circuit decision in Lucent to
support its argument that Plaintiff is not a real party in
interest in this case. In Lucent, the Ninth Circuit
looked at the “nature and effect of the
proceeding” as a whole to determine the real party in
interest. Lucent, 642 F.3d at 740. Looking at the
language of the relevant state statute and the relief sought,
the Ninth Circuit found that the State of California's
interest in enforcing its antidiscrimination laws constituted
a “general interest” held on behalf of all of its
citizens such that it would not satisfy the “real party
to the controversy requirement”, and that this
conclusion was further supported by the fact that any relief
beneficial to the State of California was merely
“tangential” to the relief sought by the
aggrieved employee. Id. at 738-740. The Court finds
this reasoning to be persuasive when applied to this case.
Plaintiff has a substantial state interest in protecting its
citizens from discrimination on the basis of sex or a
disability, this interest is the type deemed by the
Lucent Court to be too “general” to
support a finding that the State is a real party in interest.
This is further supported by a comparison of the relevant
state statutes. In Lucent, the Ninth Circuit was
persuaded by the language of the California Fair Employment
and Housing Act, which states that its prohibition of
discrimination in employment “shall be deemed an
exercise of the police power of the state for the protection
of the welfare, health, and peace of the people of this
state.” Cal. Gov't Code § 12920. Similarly,
the WLAD states that its prohibition of discrimination
“is an exercise of the police power of the state for
the protection of the public welfare, health, and peace of
the people of this state, and in fulfillment of the
provisions of the Constitution of this state concerning civil
rights.” RCW § 49.60.010. Defendant's argument
is further supported by its request for relief. While
Plaintiff seeks monetary damages on behalf of all potential
employees “aggrieved” by Defendant's alleged
unlawful conduct, it brings this suit on behalf of one
employee in particular. Further, like the claim in
Lucent, any remaining declaratory and injunctive
relief requested by Plaintiff is “tangential” to
the relief sought for Richardson's personal benefit.
Court finds that Richardson, not Plaintiff, is the real party
in interest in this case. As Richardson is a citizen of
Alabama, and neither party alleges that Defendant is also a
citizen of ...