United States District Court, D. Nevada
GLORIA M. NAVARRO, Chief District Judge.
Pending before the Court is a Motion to Remand filed by Plaintiffs Heather Singh (hereinafter "Ms. Singh") and Navjot "Jody" Singh. (ECF No. 9.) Defendants Glenmark Phargenerics, Inc. (hereinafter "Glenmark") and Nevada CVS Pharmacy, LLC (hereinafter "CVS") filed a response in opposition, (ECF No. 12), and Plaintiffs filed a reply, (ECF No. 13.) For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the instant motion.
This action centers upon Plaintiffs' allegations that oral contraceptive pills manufactured by Defendant Glenmark and sold by Defendant CVS were defective. (Compl. 14:1-8, ECF No. 1.) Ms. Singh claims that she was prescribed these pills after she was advised that, due to her age, a pregnancy would present a high risk to her health. ( Id. ) Ms. Singh further alleges that despite taking the pills as prescribed, she discovered that she was pregnant on March 3, 2012. ( Id. ) This case was originally filed in Clark County District Court on December 24, 2013. ( Id. at 11.) On January 28, 2014, Defendants removed the case, citing this Court's diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 1332. (Pet. for Rem. 1:25-27, ECF No. 1.)
Plaintiffs' Complaint sets forth six causes of action seeking to recover sums in excess of $10, 000 for (1) general damages based on injuries Ms. Singh sustained as a result of the pregnancy, (2) future medical expenses, and (3) loss of future income. (Compl. 14:9-26, ECF No. 1.) The Complaint also states that "Plaintiffs have incurred the services of an attorney in order to prosecute this action and is [sic] entitled to reasonable attorneys [sic] fees and costs." ( Id. at 18:7-8.) Plaintiffs now request that this case be remanded back to Clark County District Court.
II. LEGAL STANDARD
"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). Removal statutes are strictly construed against removal jurisdiction. Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). "Federal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance." Id. (citing Libhart v. Santa Monica Dairy Co., 592 F.2d 1062, 1064 (9th Cir. 1979)). "Where it is not facially evident from the complaint that more than $75, 000 is in controversy, the removing party must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the amount in controversy meets the jurisdictional threshold." Matheson v. Progressive Specialty Ins. Co., 319 F.3d 1089, 1090 (9th Cir. 2003).
The principal issue here is whether diversity jurisdiction exists. This Court has original jurisdiction over all civil actions in which the amount in controversy: (1) exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000; and (2) is between citizens of different States. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). As discussed infra, Defendants fail to establish that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, and therefore the Court will grant Plaintiffs' motion.
In their response, Defendants argue (a) it is "facially apparent" from the Complaint that the amount in controversy requirement is met, and (b) awards in analogous cases have exceeded $75, 000. (Resp. to Mot., ECF No. 12.) The Court will address both of these arguments in turn.
a. Damages Apparent from the Face of Plaintiffs' Complaint
Defendants argue it is apparent from the values put forward in the Complaint and the types of damages Plaintiffs seek that the amount in controversy exceeds 75, 000. ( Id. ) Indeed, a "district court may consider whether it is facially apparent' from the complaint that the jurisdictional amount is in controversy." Singer v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 116 F.3d 373, 377 (9th Cir. 1997). Specifically, Defendants refer to (1) the sum of Plaintiffs' requests for relief, (2) Plaintiffs' request for attorneys' fees, (3) Plaintiffs' description of Ms. Singh's injuries as potentially "permanent" and "disabling, " and (4) the possibility that Plaintiffs may seek to recover child-rearing costs.
Defendants argue that because Plaintiffs' first cause of action seeks recovery of an amount greater than $30, 000 and each of the subsequent five causes of action seeks in excess of $10, 000, simple arithmetic dictates that Plaintiffs are requesting an award of at least $80, 000. ( See Resp. to Mot. 6:23-7:6, ECF No. 12.) However, this argument fails to consider that these causes of action seek recovery for the same injuries. Therefore, it would be fallacious to mechanically add these values in determining the total amount in controversy, as Plaintiffs cannot recover multiple times for the same harm. See, e.g., Elyousef v. O'Reilly & Ferrario, LLC, 245 P.3d 547, 549 (Nev. 2010) (holding that "a plaintiff can recover only once for a single injury even if the plaintiff asserts multiple legal theories").
Defendants request that the Court consider Plaintiffs' request for attorneys' fees as part of the amount in controversy. However, Defendants have not set forth any basis under which an award of attorneys' fees may be warranted in this case, nor have they provided any evidence as to the amount of attorneys' fees Plaintiffs might reasonably incur. In order for a court to include a potential award of attorneys' fees within an amount in controversy, the removing party must (1) put forward an applicable statute which could authorize an award of attorneys' fees and (2) provide an estimate as to the time the case will require and opposing counsel's hourly billing rate. See, e.g., Surber v. Reliance Nat. Indem. Co., 110 F.Supp.2d 1227, 1232 (N.D. Cal. 2000) (holding a defendant's statement that opposing counsel's fees "may well, in and of themselves, exceed the jurisdictional minimum' [did] not suffice to create subject matter jurisdiction"); Wilson v. Union Sec. Life Ins. Co., 250 F.Supp.2d 1260, 1264 (D. Idaho 2003) (stating a defendant "must do more than merely point to [p]laintiffs' request for attorney's fees; ...