From Casetext: Smarter Legal Research

Williams v. Costco Wholesale Corp.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Dec 6, 2006
471 F.3d 975 (9th Cir. 2006)

Summary

holding that district court had no discretion to remand state-law claims on federal-question grounds when court also had diversity jurisdiction

Summary of this case from Martin v. Ampco Sys. Parking

Opinion

No. 03-56093.

Argued and Submitted August 16, 2006.

Filed December 6, 2006.

Kenwood C. Youmans, David D. Kadue Thomas J. Wybenga, Seyfarth Shaw LLP, Los Angeles, CA, for the appellant.

Frank J. Coughlin, Coughlin Conforti, Santa Ana, CA; Earl R. Wallace, Ruzicka, Snyder Wallace, LLP, Newport Beach, CA, for the respondent.

Appeal from The United States District Court for the Southern District of California; Napoleon A. Jones, District Judge, Presiding. D.C. No. CV-02-02003-NAJ/JFS.

Before: KOZINSKI, O'SCANNLAIN and BYBEE, Circuit Judges.


Williams sued Costco in California state court, alleging violations of federal and state law. Costco properly removed the case to district court, relying on federal question jurisdiction. After removal, Williams amended his complaint to eliminate the only federal claim and to add new state law claims. He then filed a motion to remand. The district court held that it had discretion to remand the state law claims, and did so.

At the time Williams filed his motion to remand, however, the district court had jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims based on diversity of citizenship. The district court recognized this, but held that Costco could not rely on this ground because it had not filed a second removal notice within 30 days of the amended complaint — the document that had first made it clear that the requirements for diversity were satisfied.

The district court seems to have believed that William's original complaint, the one filed in state court, was unclear as to whether the amount in controversy exceeded $75,000, but the amended complaint cured this uncertainty. We have some doubt that the original complaint failed to clearly allege the jurisdictional amount, but it makes no difference. If the original complaint in fact supported federal jurisdiction on both diversity and federal question grounds, Costco was not required to list both grounds in its notice of removal. The civil removal statute, unlike the removal statute for criminal cases, has no requirement that all grounds for removal be listed in the notice. Compare 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b) with id. § 1446(c)(2). And, if the original complaint already stated a claim for diversity of citizenship, the question that distracted the district court — i.e., whether Costco was required to file a second notice of removal — is rendered moot.

The district court derived the 30-day time-limit from the second paragraph of 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b), which deals with the situation where the grounds for removal are not apparent from the original state-court pleading, but become apparent upon the filing of an amended pleading or other paper. In such circumstances a defendant has 30 days from service of this document to file a notice of removal.

The district court erred. We have long held that post-removal amendments to the pleadings cannot affect whether a case is removable, because the propriety of removal is determined solely on the basis of the pleadings filed in state court. See Sparta Surgical Corp. v. Nat'l Ass'n of Sec. Dealers, Inc., 159 F.3d 1209, 1213 (9th Cir.1998); O'Halloran v. Univ. of Wash., 856 F.2d 1375, 1379 (9th Cir.1988). It follows that a party that has properly removed a case need not amend its removal notice or file a new notice after an amended complaint changes the ground for federal jurisdiction. Because post-removal pleadings have no bearing on whether the removal was proper, there is nothing a defendant can or need do to perfect the removal. See Yarnevic v. Brink's, Inc., 102 F.3d 753, 755 (4th Cir.1996). Indeed, the idea of filing a notice of removal in a case that is already pending in federal court, having been properly removed, is nonsensical. After all, "a Supplemental Notice of Removal would, if granted, have the effect of removing a case that has already been removed." Nolan v. Boeing Co., 715 F.Supp. 152, 153 n. 1 (E.D.La.1989).

Because this remand was not based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction or any defect in the removal — the grounds for which 28 U.S.C. § 1447(d) bars appellate review — we may review the remand order. See Quackenbush v. Allstate Ins. Co., 517 U.S. 706, 711-12, 116 S.Ct. 1712, 135 L.Ed.2d 1 (1996).

Once a case has been properly removed, the district court has jurisdiction over it on all grounds apparent from the complaint, not just those cited in the removal notice. See Brockman v. Mera-bank, 40 F.3d 1013, 1016 (9th Cir.1994). Any post-removal pleadings must be treated just as they would be in a case originally filed in federal court. Here, the district court had authority over the state law claims in the original complaint only on the basis of supplemental jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367. Dismissal of the federal claim would thus, ordinarily, have authorized the district court to remand the pendent state law claims. Id. § 1367(c)(3). But, as defendant pointed out below, the amended complaint presented an independent jurisdictional basis for the state law claims, namely diversity. With rare exceptions not applicable here, where the district court is presented with a case within its original jurisdiction, it has "a `virtually unflagging obligation' to exercise the jurisdiction conferred upon [it] by the coordinate branches of government and duly invoked by litigants." United States v. Rubenstein, 971 F.2d 288, 293 (9th Cir. 1992) (quoting Colo. River Water Conservation Dist, v. United States, 424 U.S. 800, 817, 96 S.Ct. 1236, 47 L.Ed.2d 483 (1976)). The district court had no discretion to remand these claims to state court.

Neither plaintiff nor the district court has suggested that this is the rare case where abstention may be appropriate. See Quackenbush, 517 U.S. at 716-17, 116 S.Ct. 1712.

REVERSED.


Summaries of

Williams v. Costco Wholesale Corp.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Dec 6, 2006
471 F.3d 975 (9th Cir. 2006)

holding that district court had no discretion to remand state-law claims on federal-question grounds when court also had diversity jurisdiction

Summary of this case from Martin v. Ampco Sys. Parking

holding that "post-removal amendments to the pleadings cannot affect whether a case is removable, because the propriety of removal is determined solely on the basis of the pleadings filed in state court"

Summary of this case from Gillette v. Peerless Ins. Co.

finding jurisdiction proper where, although federal question claims in the initial complaint had been dismissed, "the amended complaint presented an independent jurisdictional basis for the state law claims, namely diversity."

Summary of this case from Brooks v. FCI Lender Servs., Inc.

reversing district court's remand of case after plaintiff's dismissal of sole federal claim by finding that district court still had authority over state law claims under alternative diversity jurisdiction ground

Summary of this case from Garon v. Fair Isaac Corp.

reversing district court's order of remand where case was removed on federal question jurisdiction, plaintiff later amended complaint to eliminate the only federal claim and to add new state law claims, and then filed a motion to remand

Summary of this case from Wickens v. Blue Cross of Cal., Inc.

reversing remand once plaintiff no longer brought federal claim because court also had diversity jurisdiction

Summary of this case from Clark v. Unum Life Ins. Co. of Am.

In Williams, the Ninth Circuit held that "[o]nce a case has been properly removed, the district court has jurisdiction over it on all grounds apparent from the complaint, not just those cited in the removal notice."

Summary of this case from Jean-Jacques v. Hilton El Segundo LLC

In Williams, the plaintiff sued the defendant in California state court alleging claims under both state and federal law. 471 F.3d at 976.

Summary of this case from Bell v. Terminix Int'l Co.

allowing removed case to switch jurisdictional bases from federal question to diversity after all federal claims had been eliminated, even where diversity was not invoked in the defendant's notice of removal, so long as diversity of citizenship could be discerned from the face of the complaint

Summary of this case from Colo. Ins. Guaranty Ass'n v. United Artists Theatre Circuit, Inc.

In Williams, for instance, removal was appropriate on the face of the removed state court complaint, and remained appropriate—but on different jurisdictional grounds—in light of an amended complaint subsequently filed in federal court.

Summary of this case from Castro v. Abm Indus. Inc.

noting that "post-removal pleadings have no bearing on whether the removal was proper"

Summary of this case from Cornell v. That Certain Instrument Entitled "Deed of Trust," under Recorder's Document Number 201100157 47 originally dated August 8, 2005 and filed in Nevada County

In Williams, the Ninth Circuit reiterated the well-established rule that a plaintiff may not amend his complaint after removal to divest a federal court of jurisdiction.

Summary of this case from Loid v. Computer Scis. Corp.

In Williams v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 471 F.3d 975 (9th Cir. 2006), the Ninth Circuit again addressed a second notice of removal.

Summary of this case from Pub. Employees Ret. Ass'n of New Mexico v. Clearlend Sec.
Case details for

Williams v. Costco Wholesale Corp.

Case Details

Full title:Scott M. WILLIAMS, an individual and all others similarly situated…

Court:United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

Date published: Dec 6, 2006

Citations

471 F.3d 975 (9th Cir. 2006)

Citing Cases

Snider v. Sterling Airways, Inc.

And whether a party has properly removed a case "[i]s to be determined according to the plaintiffs' pleading…

Heldt v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am.

That said, the court does not have discretion to remand state law claims if there is an independent basis for…