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LLC v. City of Las Vegas

United States District Court, D. Nevada

October 18, 2019

180 LAND CO LLC, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF LAS VEGAS, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

         Presently before the court is 180 Land Company, LLC; Fore Stars, Ltd.; and Seventy Acres, LLC's (“plaintiffs”) motion to remand. (ECF No. 7). Defendant City of Las Vegas (“the city”) filed a response (ECF No. 9), to which plaintiffs replied (ECF No. 10).

         I. Background

         The instant action is an inverse condemnation claim against the city. (ECF No. 9 at 4). Plaintiffs' predecessor-in-interest designated a 250-acre property in Las Vegas, which was formerly known as the Badlands Gold Course, as open space. Id. at 3. Plaintiffs acquired the property in 2015 and now seek to redevelop it. Id. Plaintiffs applied to the city to rezone the property and approve various construction projects. Id.

The City Council approved the [plaintiff's] applications for 435 condominiums, denied the [plaintiff's]applications for 61 single family homes and struck some of the [plaintiff's]applications because they failed to meet procedural requirements of the City's Unified Development Code and that were established in an earlier court proceeding.

Id. In response to the city's decisions, plaintiffs filed this action and three others in the Eighth Judicial District Court. Id. at 3-4.

         In this particular action, plaintiffs are “seeking just compensation for the [c]ity's taking of [their] 65 Acre private undeveloped residentially zoned property.” (ECF No. 7 at 2). The city avers that “[t]he instant case alleges the taking of a 65-acre portion of the [p]roperty for which the [plaintiffs] did not file any particular land use applications for the City Council's consideration.” (ECF No. 9 at 4).

         The city filed a motion to dismiss this action while it was pending in state court and filed various motions and writ petitions in the three related cases. (ECF No. 7 at 4-7). “The case was bounced from one department to another and sat idle in an empty department for some time.” (ECF No. 9 at 4). Before the state court could address the motion to dismiss, the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in Knick v. Twp. of Scott, Pennsylvania, 139 S.Ct. 2162 (2019). Id. The city then removed this case and each related case. (ECF No. 1); see also Nos. 2:19-cv-01467-KJD-DJA; 2:19-cv-0149-JAD-NJK; and 2:19-cv-01470-RFB-BNW.

         II. Legal Standard

         “‘Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction,' possessing ‘only that power authorized by Constitution and statute.'” Gunn v. Minton, 568 U.S. 251, 256 (2013) (quoting Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of America, 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994)). 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).

         Because the court's jurisdiction is limited by the constitution and 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332, “[t]he threshold requirement for removal under 28 U.S.C. § 1441 is a finding that the complaint contains a cause of action that is within the original jurisdiction of the district court.” Ansley v. Ameriquest Mortg. Co., 340 F.3d 858, 861 (9th Cir. 2003) (quoting Toumajian v. Frailey, 135 F.3d 648, 653 (9th Cir. 1998)). Thus, “it is to be presumed that a cause lies outside the limited jurisdiction of the federal courts and the burden of establishing the contrary rests upon the party asserting jurisdiction.” Hunter v. Philip Morris USA, 582 F.3d 1039, 1042 (9th Cir. 2009).

         Upon notice of removability, a defendant has thirty days to remove a case to federal court once he knows or should have known that the case was removable. 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). On a motion to remand, the removing defendant must overcome the “strong presumption against removal jurisdiction” and establish that removal is proper. Hunter, 582 F.3d at 1042 (quoting Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir.1992) (per curiam)). Due to this strong presumption against removal jurisdiction, the court resolves all ambiguity in favor of remand to state court. Id.

         III. ...


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