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Glenwood Snacks, LLC v. Blend, LLC

United States District Court, D. Idaho

January 4, 2019

GLENWOOD SNACKS, LLC, an Idaho Limited Liability Company, Plaintiff,
v.
BLEND, LLC, a California Limited Liability Company, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          B. Lynn Winmill U.S. District Court Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         Before the Court is Plaintiff Glenwood Snacks, LLC's Motion to Remand the pending litigation back to state court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). Dkt. 7. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will GRANT the Motion.

         BACKGROUND

         This case began with a complaint filed by Glenwood Snacks in State Court alleging breach of contract for Blend's failure to pay for a shipment of a beef jerky manufactured by Glenwood Snacks. Blend removed the case to Federal Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1441, and 1446 under diversity jurisdiction. Glenwood Snacks seeks damages in the amount of $27, 624.55. Blend argues that the combined damages and future attorney's fees exceeds the amount in controversy requirement. Glenwood Snacks argues that it will not. Neither party disputes that diversity exists. Thus, the sole issue for the Court to decide is whether the amount in controversy is sufficient to support the Court's exercise of diversity jurisdiction.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Removal from state court is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1441 and 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Sections 1332(a) and 1441(b), when read together, allows for removal based on diversity of citizenship when (1) there is complete diversity between the parties, and (2) the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.

         Federal courts strictly construe the removal statute. See Gaus v. Miles, 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). In diversity cases where the amount in controversy is in doubt, there is a presumption against removal jurisdiction. Id. The party seeking removal bears the burden of establishing that removal is proper. Id. This burden is satisfied if the defendant shows by a preponderance of the evidence that the Plaintiff will “more likely than not” receive at least $75, 000.01 in relief. See Sanchez v. Monumental Life Ins. Co., 102 F.3d 398, 404 (9th Cir. 1996). The “more likely than not” standard strikes an appropriate balance between the plaintiff's right to choose its forum and the defendant's right to remove. Id.

         To determine whether the defendant has met its burden, the Court may consider “facts presented in the removal petition as well as any summary judgment-type evidence relevant to the amount in controversy at the time of removal. See Cohn v. Petsmart, Inc., 281 F.3d 837, 839 (9th Cir. 2002). Conclusory allegations by the defendant, or speculative arguments about the potential value of an award, however, will not suffice to overcome the traditional presumption against removal jurisdiction. See Singer v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 116 F.3d 373, 375 (9th Cir. 1997); Gaus, 980 F.2d at 567. “[T]he defendant bears the burden of actually proving the facts to support ... the jurisdictional amount.” Id.

         Relief which may be included in the amount in controversy includes (1) compensatory damages, (2) punitive damages, (3) the value of injunctive relief, and (4) attorney's fees. See Cohn, 281 F.3d at 840. Future attorney's fees that are recoverable by statute or contract must be included in assessing whether the amount in controversy requirement is established. Fritsch v. Swift Trans. Co. of Arizona, LLC, 899 F.3d 785, 788-89 (9th Cir. 2018).

         ANALYSIS

         The Court will accept, for purposes of this decision, the premise that Glenwood Snacks is entitled to the full amount of damages sought in its complaint: $27, 624.55. As such, the question becomes whether Glenwood Snacks will also be entitled to legal fees in the amount of $47, 375.46 or more. The Court concludes that Blend has not met its burden of showing by a preponderance of the evidence that it is “more likely than not” that Glenwood Snacks will incur and be awarded legal fees of at least $47, 375.46.

         1. Plaintiff's Counsel's Hourly Rate Is Reasonable

         Based on the evidence of record and the Court's own experience, Glenwood Snack's attorney's rate of $315 per hour is reasonable. See Romish Holdings, LLC v. Inclusion, Inc., No. 1:15-cv-00126-BLW, 2016 WL 3093371, *1 (D. Idaho June 1, 2016) (holding $275/hour was reasonable in the District of Idaho); In re Hopkins Northwest Fund LLC, 567 B.R. 590, 595 (D. Idaho Feb. 16, 2017) (finding $280/hour reasonable in District of Idaho); Colucci v. MPC Computs., LLC Severance Plan For ...


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