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Chavez v. JPMorgan Chase & Co.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

April 20, 2018

Elsa Chavez, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
JPMorgan Chase & Co.; Does, 1 through 100, Inclusive, Defendants-Appellees.

          Argued and Submitted February 14, 2018 Pasadena, California

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California No. 2:15-cv-02328-DDP-PJW, Dean D. Pregerson, Senior District Judge, Presiding

          Kelly R. Horwitz (argued) and Douglas G. Benedon, Benedon & Serlin LLP, Woodland Hills, California; Christopher M. Barnes and Marcus A. Mancini, Mancini & Associates, Sherman Oaks, California; for Plaintiff-Appellant.

          Sherry Swieca (argued) and Theresa M. Marchlewski, Jackson Lewis P.C., Los Angeles, California, for Defendants-Appellees.

          Before: Marsha S. Berzon and Jay S. Bybee, Circuit Judges, and John A. Woodcock, Jr., [*] District Judge.

          SUMMARY [**]

         Diversity Jurisdiction

         The panel held that the amount-in-controversy requirement for diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332 was satisfied.

         Elsa Chavez sued her former employer in California state court, and the employer removed to federal district court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction.

         The panel held that the amount in controversy was not limited to damages incurred prior to removal - for example, it was not limited to wages a plaintiff-employee would have earned before removal (as opposed to after removal). The panel further held that the amount in controversy was determined by the complaint operative at the time of removal and encompassed all relief a court may grant on that complaint if the plaintiff was victorious. The panel applied the standard and concluded that the amount-in-controversy standard was easily satisfied in this case.

         The panel reviewed the merits of the district court's summary judgment decision in a concurrently filed memorandum disposition.

          OPINION

          BYBEE, Circuit Judge

         Elsa Chavez sued her former employer JPMorgan Chase Bank ("JPMC") in California state court. JPMC removed to federal district court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332 and won summary judgment on all of Chavez's claims. We review the merits of the district court's summary judgment decision in an accompanying memorandum disposition. Here, we address only Chavez's contention that subject matter jurisdiction is lacking because § 1332's amount-in-controversy requirement was not met when the case was removed.

         Specifically, we write to clarify what it means to say that the amount in controversy is determined as of "the time of removal." See, e.g., Kroske v. U.S. Bank Corp., 432 F.3d 976, 980 (9th Cir. 2005). We conclude that the amount in controversy is not limited to damages incurred prior to removal-for example, it is not limited to wages a plaintiff-employee would have earned before removal (as opposed to after removal). Rather, the amount in controversy is determined by the complaint operative at the time of removal and encompasses all relief a court may grant on that complaint if the plaintiff is ...


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