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Kunio Tsutsumi, et al v. Advanced Power

May 8, 2013

KUNIO TSUTSUMI, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ADVANCED POWER TECHNOLOGIES, INC., ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Miranda M. Duunited States District Judge

I. SUMMARY

ORDER (Motions to Remand [Case No. 2:12-cv- 1784-MMD-VCF, dkt. no. 14; Case No. 2:12-cv-01785-MMD-VCF] - dkt. no. 12; Motions to Dismiss [Case No. 2:12-cv-1784- MMD-VCF - dkt. no. 4; Case No. 2:12-cv- 01785-MMD-VCF - dkt. no. 4])

Before the Court are Plaintiffs' respective Motions to Remand (Case No. 2:12-cv-1784-MMD-VCF, dkt. no. 14; Case No. 2:12-cv-01785-MMD-VCF, dkt. no. 12), and Defendants' Motions to Dismiss (case no. 2:12-cv-1784-MMD-VCF, dkt. no. 4; case no. 2:12-cv-01785-MMD-VCF, dkt. no. 4). For the reasons stated below, the Motions to Remand are denied. The Motions to Dismiss are granted in part and denied in part.

II. BACKGROUND

On May 1, 2013, the Court consolidated Tsutsumi v. Advanced Power Technologies, Case No. 2:12-cv-01784-MMD-VCF with Teshigahara v. Global Smart Energy, Case No. 2:12-cv-01785-MMD-VCF.*fn1 The cases present substantially similar facts and allegations. Below, the Court summarizes the allegations in both actions.

Plaintiffs in the earlier-filed action allege that from December 2009 through June 2010, Defendants O'Donnell and Mortensen began promoting and soliciting investments in Advanced Power Technologies ("APT") and Advanced Energy Oasis ("AEO") from Plaintiffs, under the pretense that these companies were subsidiaries and/or affiliates of the other. (Dkt. no. 1-1 at ¶ 5.) Their stated business plan was to develop alternative energy and power for vehicles, homes, and buildings. (Id.) However, Plaintiffs allege that the business plans were fictional, and that the investment scheme was an attempt to induce Plaintiffs into tendering investments that would never be repaid. (Id.) Each of the Plaintiffs' investments was made pursuant to written Subscription Agreements and Secured Promissory Notes issued by AEO.

In June 2011, O'Donnell and Mortensen approached Plaintiff Kimiko Teshigahara about Global Smart Energy, Inc. ("GSE") with essentially the same scheme. (Case No. 2:12-cv-01785-MMD-VCF, dkt. no. 1-1 at ¶ 4; see also pgs. 3-4.)

Plaintiffs were induced into believing that they would receive quarterly interest payments of 6% and the entire principal and accrued interest three years from the respective dates that the Subscription Agreements and Secured Promissory Notes were executed. (Dkt. no. 1-1at ¶ 7.) Plaintiffs assert that Defendants made one annual interest payment to several of the Plaintiffs by using funds received from the other Plaintiffs. (Id. at ¶ 8.) After that point, all funds were fraudulently transferred to O'Donnell and Mortensen, either individually or to their affiliated third parties. (Id.)

Shortly before filing their Complaints, Plaintiffs were informed that APT, AEO, and GSE were out of money and would not be carrying out their business plans. (Dkt. no. 1-1 at ¶ 10.) On May 23, 2012, Plaintiffs filed suit in state court, alleging (1) fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud; (2) injunctive relief; (3) appointment of a receiver; (4) breach of fiduciary duty as well as the duties of care and loyalty; (5) accounting and constructive trust; (6) breach of contract and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing; (7) conversion and unjust enrichment; and (8) securities fraud under NRS Chapter 90.*fn2

Defendants removed the cases on October 11, 2012. (Case No. 2:12:cv-01784-MMD-VCF, dkt. no. 1; Case No. 2:12-cv-01785-MMD-VCF, dkt. no. 1). Plaintiffs moved to remand (dkt. nos. 14 and 12, respectively), and Defendants filed Motions to Dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (dkt. nos. 4 and 4, respectively).

III. MOTIONS TO REMAND

Plaintiffs move to remand this case to state court, arguing (1) that removal was not timely; (2) there is no diversity of citizenship; and (3) this case does not present a federal question.

A. Legal Standard

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, having subject matter jurisdiction only over matters authorized by the Constitution and Congress. U.S. Const. Art. III, § 2, cl. 1; e.g., Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). A suit filed in state court may be removed to federal court if the federal court would have had original jurisdiction over the suit. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a).

If removal was improper and the federal court lacks jurisdiction, the federal court must remand the case to state court. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).

A district court analyzes jurisdiction "on the basis of the pleadings filed at the time of removal without reference to subsequent amendments." Sparta Surgical Corp. v. Nat'l Ass'n of Sec. Dealers, Inc., 159 F.3d 1209, 1213 (9th Cir. 1998). Courts strictly construe the removal statute against removal jurisdiction, and "[f]ederal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance." Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (emphasis added). The party seeking removal bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction. Durham v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 445 F.3d 1247, 1252 (9th Cir. 2006).

To establish subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to diversity of citizenship, the party asserting jurisdiction must show: (1) complete diversity of citizenship among opposing parties and (2) an amount in controversy exceeding $75,000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).

B. Timeliness

Plaintiffs argue that Defendants waited too long to remove this action, as Defendants removed the case more than thirty (30) days after Mortensen and O'Donnell were served.

Plaintiffs' arguments regarding timeliness are themselves untimely. A plaintiff has thirty (30) days after the defendant files a notice of removal to make a motion to remand an action for any procedural defects in a defendant's removal. Lively v. Wild Oats Markets, Inc., 456 F.3d 933, 939 (9th Cir. 2006).A remand motion made on the basis of any defect in removal other than lack of subject matter jurisdiction constitutes a procedural defect, and must be made within the 30-day time period. See id. at 939. Should the plaintiff fail to make such a motion, the plaintiff is considered to have consented to federal jurisdiction. See id. at 939-940. A "district court cannot remand sua sponte for defects in removal procedure."*fn3 Kelton Arms Condo. Owners Ass'n, Inc. v. Homestead Ins. Co., 346 F.3d 1190, 1193 (9th Cir. 2003).

Defendants removed this case on October 11, 2012. (Dkt. no. 1.) Plaintiffs filed their Motion to Remand to State Court on November 15, 2012.*fn4 (Dkt. no. 14.) More than thirty days lapsed from the time Defendants removed the case and Plaintiffs' Motions. The Court cannot remand the case on this ground.

C. Diversity Jurisdiction

There is complete diversity among the parties: Plaintiffs are Japanese citizens while Defendants are either Texas or Nevada citizens. (See Case No. 2:12:cv-01784-MMD-VCF, dkt. no. 1 at ¶¶ 17, 18; dkt. no. 7 at ¶ 3; Case No. 2:12-cv-01785-MMD-VCF, dkt. no. 1 at ¶¶ 17, 18); see also Turbay v. Bank of Am., N.A., No. 2:12-CV-1367-MMDVCF, 2013 WL 1145212, at *2 (D. Nev. Mar. 18, 2013) (for complete diversity to exist, "all plaintiffs must be citizens of a different state than all defendants."). However, Plaintiffs argue that the "forum defendant rule" precludes removal here. That is, all Defendants except Lyle Mortensen are Nevada citizens (Mortensen is a Texas citizen, see dkt. no. 7 at ¶ 3). That rule holds that "[a] civil action otherwise removable solely on the basis of the jurisdiction under section 1332(a) of this title may not be removed if any of the parties in interest properly joined and served as defendants is a citizen of the State in which such action is brought." 28 U.S.C § 1441(b).

Like the rule regarding the timeliness of removal discussed above, the forum defendant rule is a procedural rather than jurisdictional rule. Wild Oats, 456 F.3d at 939. Because over thirty (30) days have lapsed from the time Defendants removed the case and Plaintiffs' Motion, the Court cannot remand the case on this ground.

As diversity of citizenship exists, and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000, removal was proper under 28 U.S.C. ยง 1332(a). The Court does not address the parties' respective arguments regarding whether or not federal question jurisdiction exists here, because the ...


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