-SKO Fresno Community Hospital and Medical Center v. Tater-Alexander, No. 1:2011cv00487 - Document 18 (E.D. Cal. 2011)

Court Description: MEMORANDUM DECISION and ORDER; RE Plaintiff's 6 Motion to Remand, signed by Judge Oliver W. Wanger on 4/11/2011. (Kusamura, W)
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1 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 2 FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 3 4 5 FRESNO COMMUNITY HOSPITAL AND MEDICAL CENTER, 1:11-cv-00487 OWW SMS MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER RE PLAINTIFF S MOTION TO REMAND. Plaintiff, 6 7 v. 8 MICHAEL TATER-ALEXANDER, 9 Defendant. 10 I. 11 12 INTRODUCTION Before the court is Plaintiff s motion to remand the case to 13 Fresno County Superior Court. Doc. 6. Defendant opposes the 14 motion. Doc. 14. 15 16 II. BACKGROUND On March 18, 2011, Plaintiff filed a Complaint against 17 18 19 Defendant in the Superior Court of California, County of Fresno. Doc. 1, Ex. A. The Complaint seeks a temporary restraining order 20 and preliminary and permanent injunctions: (1) enjoining 21 Defendant from engaging in certain conduct; and (2) preventing 22 Defendant from remaining on Plaintiff s premises once Defendant 23 has been discharged or has refused the care that can be provided 24 25 26 27 28 to him, or if Defendant engages in prohibited conduct. Defendant removed the case to federal court on March 22, 2011. Doc. 1. On March 28, 2011, Plaintiff filed a motion to remand (Doc. 6), which Defendant opposed (Doc. 14). Plaintiff 1 1 contends that remand is proper because the court does not have 2 jurisdiction. Plaintiff applied for an order shortening the time 3 for hearing of the motion (Doc. 8), which was granted in court on 4 March 31, 2011 (Minute Order 12). The motion was heard on April 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 7, 2011. III. LEGAL STANDARD 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) provides in pertinent part: [A]ny civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant or the defendants, to the district court of the United States for the district and division embracing the place where such action is pending. 13 The threshold requirement for removal under 28 U.S.C. § 1441 is 14 a finding that the complaint contains a cause of action that is 15 within the original jurisdiction of the district court. Hunter 16 v. Philip Morris USA, 582 F.3d 1039, 1042 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting 17 Ansley v. Ameriquest Mortg. Co., 340 F.3d 858, 861 (9th Cir. 18 19 20 21 22 2003). A defendant may remove an action to federal court based on federal question jurisdiction or diversity jurisdiction. Hunter v. Philip Morris USA, 582 F.3d at 1042. To determine whether removal is proper based on federal 23 question jurisdiction, the well-pleaded complaint rule provides 24 that federal jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is 25 presented on the face of the plaintiff's properly pleaded 26 complaint. Hunter v. Philip Morris USA, 582 F.3d at 1042 27 28 (quoting Fisher v. NOS Commc'ns (In re NOS Commc'ns), 495 F.3d 2 1 1052, 1057 (9th Cir. 2007)). More specifically, federal question 2 jurisdiction exists if a well-pleaded complaint establishes 3 either that [1] federal law creates the cause of action or that 4 [2] the plaintiff's right to relief necessarily depends on 5 6 7 resolution of a substantial question of federal law. Armstrong v. N. Mariana Islands, 576 F.3d 950, 955-956 (9th Cir. 2009) 8 (quoting Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline Co. v. An Exclusive 9 Gas Storage Leasehold & Easement in the Cloverly Subterranean 10 Geological Formation, 524 F.3d 1090, 1100 (9th Cir. 2008) 11 (internal quotation marks omitted). 12 13 14 15 Whether the complaint states a claim arising under federal law must be ascertained by the legal construction of [the plaintiff's] allegations, and not by the effect attributed to 16 those allegations by the adverse party. Ultramar Amer. Ltd. v. 17 Dwelle, 900 F.2d 1412, 1414 (9th Cir. 1990). The mere existence 18 of a federal defense to a state law claim is insufficient to 19 create federal jurisdiction over a case. U.S. v. Arcata, 629 20 F.3d 986, 990 (9th Cir. 2010). Similarly, a counterclaim involving 21 federal law does not provide a basis for federal question 22 23 24 jurisdiction. Holmes Group, Inc. v. Vornado Air Circulation Sys., Inc., 535 U.S. 826, 830, 122 S.Ct. 1889 (2002). There is an 25 exception where plaintiff's federal claim has been disguised by 26 artful pleading, such as where the claim is exclusively 27 governed by federal law or is a state claim preempted by federal 28 3 1 law. Sullivan v. First Affiliated Sec., Inc., 813 F.2d 1368, 1372 2 (9th Cir.1987). However, the artful pleading exception is invoked 3 only in exceptional circumstances as it raises difficult issues 4 of state and federal relationships and often yields 5 6 7 8 unsatisfactory results. Id. (quoting Salveson v. W. States Bankcard Ass n, 731 F.2d 1423, 1427 (9th Cir. 1984)). To protect the jurisdiction of state courts, removal 9 jurisdiction is strictly construed in favor of remand. Harris v. 10 Bankers Life & Cas. Co., 425 F.3d 689, 698 (9th Cir. 2005) 11 (citing Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 108-09, 12 13 14 15 61 S.Ct. 868, 85 L.Ed. 1214 (1941)). Any doubt as to the right of removal must be resolved in favor of remand. Gaus v. Miles, 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). It is presumed that a cause lies 16 outside [the] limited jurisdiction [of the federal courts] and 17 the burden of establishing the contrary rests upon the party 18 asserting jurisdiction. Hunter v. Philip Morris USA, 582 F.3d at 19 1042 (quoting Abrego Abrego v. Dow Chem. Co., 443 F.3d 676, 684 20 (9th Cir. 2006) (alterations in original). 21 22 IV. ANALYSIS A. Jurisdiction 23 24 25 Plaintiff argues that the case should be remanded because the court does not have jurisdiction. Because Plaintiff is a 26 California corporation with its principal office in Fresno and 27 Defendant is a resident of Fresno, Plaintiff correctly asserts 28 4 1 that the court does not have diversity jurisdiction under 28 2 U.S.C. § 1332. At issue is whether the court has federal question 3 jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. 4 Here, the Complaint seeks a temporary restraining order and 5 6 7 preliminary and permanent injunctions: (1) enjoining Defendant from engaging in certain conduct, including: (i) using profanity 8 against medical personnel; (ii) refusing to be examined; (iii) 9 refusing to have his vital signs taken; (iv) interrupting medical 10 personnel when they are trying to speak with him; (v) threatening 11 to sue medical personnel; (vi) ordering his doctor and nurse out 12 13 14 15 of the room; (vii) refusing to remain on the floor when connected to an IV pump and going outside to smoke; (viii) attempting to get food from the cafeteria after being ordered to not eat by 16 mouth; (ix) loudly criticizing medical staff; (x) refusing to 17 permit his nurse to discontinue his IV pump; (xi) yelling at 18 medical personnel; and (xii) closing the door to his room and 19 refusing to allow medical personnel in; and (2) preventing 20 Defendant from remaining on Plaintiff s premises if Defendant: 21 (i) has been discharged; (ii) has refused the care that can be 22 23 24 provided to him; or (iii) engages in prohibited conduct. Plaintiffs request for injunctive relief is brought under state 25 law, pertaining to the operation, security, and orderly 26 procedures of the hospital. On its face, the Complaint does not 27 invoke a federal question. See Hunter v. Philip Morris USA, 582 28 5 1 2 3 4 F.3d at 1042. Defendant asserts that there is federal question jurisdiction because this action arises under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. ( ADA ). Defendant 5 6 7 8 9 argues that whether Defendant has a psychological disability within the meaning of the ADA is central to this case, and that Plaintiff s desired injunctive relief violates the ADA. Here, the ADA does not create the cause of action. Rather, 10 the ADA is a potential defense and/or counterclaim Defendant 11 asserts in opposition to Plaintiff s claim. The mere existence 12 13 14 15 of a federal defense to a state law claim is insufficient to create federal jurisdiction over a case. U.S. v. Arcata, 629 F.3d 986, 990 (9th Cir. 2010). In addition, a counterclaim 16 involving federal law does not provide a basis for federal 17 question jurisdiction. Holmes Group, Inc. v. Vornado Air 18 Circulation Sys., Inc., 535 U.S. 826, 830, 122 S.Ct. 1889, 1894 19 (2002). This is not a case where the Plaintiff has omitted 20 necessary federal questions essential to his or her claim, 21 necessitating the invocation of the artful pleading doctrine. 22 23 24 25 Federal question jurisdiction over this case is lacking. B. Related Case Defendant concedes that under normal circumstances, 26 Plaintiff s claim for injunctive relief against Defendant would 27 likely be reasonable and properly heard before the Fresno 28 6 1 Superior Court. Doc. 14, 2. However, Defendant argues that the 2 case should not be remanded to state court because Plaintiff and 3 Defendant have been in litigation for over three years in a 4 related federal district court case, Tater-Alexander v. Community 5 6 7 8 9 Regional Medical Center, Case No. 1:08-cv-372-OWW-SKO ( TaterAlexander Case ). Defendant asserts that this case should be joined under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 18. A federal district court shall have supplemental 10 jurisdiction over all other claims that are so related to claims 11 in the action within such original jurisdiction that they form 12 13 14 15 part of the same case or controversy under Article III of the United States Constitution. 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). Supplemental jurisdiction is constitutional only if the federal and state 16 claims (1) form one constitutional case and (2) derive from a 17 common nucleus of operative facts. Mendoza v. Zirkle Fruit Co., 18 301 F.3d 1163, 1173 (9th Cir. 2002) (quoting United Mine Workers 19 of Am. v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 725, 86 S.Ct. 1130 (1966)). 20 Supplemental jurisdiction, however, does not provide a basis for 21 removal to federal court. Syngenta Crop Prot., Inc. v. Henson, 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 537 U.S. 28, 34, 123 S.Ct. 366 (2002) ( Ancillary jurisdiction ... cannot provide the original jurisdiction that petitioners must show in order to qualify for removal under § 1441 ). Here, the federal Tater-Alexander Case and this case share some common facts. The Plaintiff s Request for Judicial Notice of 7 1 Pleadings includes pleadings filed in the Tater-Alexander Case: 2 The Declaration of Thomas Mansfield, M.D., in support of his 3 motion for summary judgment (Doc. 1-3, 15-41); The Declaration of 4 Corporal Lonnie Amerjan, in support of his motion for summary 5 6 7 judgment (Id. at 42-46); and Response of Defendants Fresno Community Hospital and Medical Center and Marilyn Jo Greene, R.N. 8 to Plaintiff s MIL No. 3 to Preclude Evidence of Settlement 9 Discussions (Id. at 47-55). However, supplemental jurisdiction 10 does not provide a basis for removal under 28 U.S.C. § 1441. 11 Syngenta, 537 U.S. at 34. Although this case is partially related 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 to the Tater-Alexander Case by reason of the underlying issues raised about Defendant s interaction with the hospital and its staff, supplemental jurisdiction cannot be exercised under 28 U.S.C. § 1441. V. CONCLUSION For the reasons stated above: 19 1. Plaintiff s motion to remand is GRANTED. 20 2. Pursuant to both parties stipulations during the April 7, 21 22 2011 hearing, neither party shall introduce any evidence, finding, or decision from this remanded state court case 23 24 25 into the federal Tater-Alexander Case. 3. Plaintiff shall submit a proposed form of order consistent 26 with this memorandum decision within five (5) days of 27 electronic service of this memorandum decision. 28 8 1 SO ORDERED. 2 DATED: April 11, 2011 /s/ Oliver W. Wanger Oliver W. Wanger United States District Judge 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 9