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Riggs v. Hecker

United States District Court, D. Nevada

July 16, 2018

MARY RIGGS, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
MATTHEW HECKER, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

         Presently before the court is plaintiff Mary Riggs as personal representative of the estate of Jonathan Neil Udall and Philip and Marlene Udall's motion to remand. (ECF No. 15). Specially-appearing defendant Airbus Helicopters, Inc. (“AHI”) filed a response (ECF No. 28), to which Riggs replied (ECF No. 37).

         Also before the court is defendants Matthew Hecker, Daniel Friedman, Brenda Halvorson, Geoffrey Edlund, Elling Halvorson, John Becker, Elling Kent Halvorson, Lon A. Halvorson, Papillon Airways, Inc., d/b/a Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters, Xebec LLC, and Scott Booth's (collectively, “the Papillon defendants”) motion to remand. (ECF No. 19). AHI filed a response (ECF No. 28), to which the Papillon defendants replied (ECF No. 38).

         I. Facts

         The present action involves a dispute surrounding a helicopter accident.

         On March 2, 2018, Riggs commenced an action in the Eighth Judicial District Court of Clark County, Nevada, against several individual and entity defendants stemming from a February 10, 2018, helicopter crash. (ECF No. 1, Ex. 2). In her claims against AHI, Riggs alleges that the subject helicopter was defectively designed in that the fuel system was not crash-resistant. Id.

         On May 18, 2018, AHI filed a petition for removal to this court. Id. On June 8, 2018, Riggs filed a motion to remand. (ECF No. 15). On June 15, 2018, the Papillon defendants filed a motion to remand. (ECF No. 19). On July 9, 2018, AHI filed a motion to dismiss Riggs's complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction.[1] (ECF No. 36). Riggs subsequently filed a motion to defer briefing on the motion to dismiss (ECF No. 39), and a motion to shorten time (ECF No. 40).

         II. Legal Standard

         Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Owen Equip. & Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, 374 (1978). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), “any 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.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a).

         Procedurally, a defendant has thirty (30) days upon notice of removability to remove a case to federal court. Durham v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 445 F.3d 1247, 1250 (9th Cir. 2006) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(2)). Defendants are not charged with notice of removability “until they've received a paper that gives them enough information to remove.” Id. at 1251.

         Specifically, “the ‘thirty day time period [for removal] . . . starts to run from defendant's receipt of the initial pleading only when that pleading affirmatively reveals on its face' the facts necessary for federal court jurisdiction.” Id. at 1250 (quoting Harris v. Bankers Life & Casualty Co., 425 F.3d 689, 690-91 (9th Cir. 2005) (alterations in original)). “Otherwise, the thirty-day clock doesn't begin ticking until a defendant receives ‘a copy of an amended pleading, motion, order or other paper' from which it can determine that the case is removable. Id. (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(3)).

         A plaintiff may challenge removal by timely filing a motion to remand. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). Remand to state court is proper if the district court lacks jurisdiction. Id. “A federal court is presumed to lack jurisdiction in a particular case unless the contrary affirmatively appears.” Stock West, Inc. v. Confederated Tribes of Colville Reservation, 873 F.2d 1221, 1225 (9th Cir. 1989). Thus, federal subject matter jurisdiction must exist at the time an action is commenced. Mallard Auto. Grp., Ltd. v. United States, 343 F.Supp.2d 949, 952 (D. Nev. 2004) (citing Morongo Band of Mission Indians v. Cal. State Bd. of Equalization, 858 F.2d 1376, 1380 (9th Cir.1988)).

         On a motion to remand, the removing defendant faces a strong presumption against removal, and bears the burden of establishing that removal is proper. Sanchez v. Monumental Life Ins. Co., 102 F.3d 398, 403-04 (9th Cir. 1996); Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566-67 (9th Cir. 1992).

         III. Discussion

         a. Federal ...


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