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Eldee-K Rental Props., LLC v. DIRECTV, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

April 9, 2014

ELDEE-K RENTAL PROPERTIES, LLC, a Connecticut limited liability company, on behalf of itself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
DIRECTV, INC., a Delaware corporation, Defendant-Appellee

Argued and Submitted, San Francisco, California November 7, 2013.

Page 944

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. D.C. No. 3:11-cv-02416-CRB. Charles R. Breyer, Senior District Judge, Presiding.

AFFIRMED.

Jeffrey S. Nobel, Robert A. Izard (argued), and Mark P. Kindall, Izard Nobel LLP, West Hartford, Connecticut; Alan R. Plutzik and Jennifer Rosenberg, Bramson, Plutzik, Mahler & Birkhaeuser, LLP, Walnut Creek, California, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Andrew E. Paris (argued), Grace W. Kang, Sayaka Karitani, and Alex Akerman, Alston & Bird LLP, Los Angeles, California, for Defendant-Appellee.

Before: Jerome Farris, Susan H. Black[*], and Sandra S. Ikuta, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge Ikuta.

OPINION

Page 945

IKUTA, Circuit Judge:

The district court dismissed Eldee-K Rental Properties, LLC's complaint against DIRECTV, Inc. for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Because the district court correctly determined that Eldee-K's action was a local action under California law, and therefore had to be brought in Connecticut where the real property at issue is located, we affirm the district court's dismissal of this action.

I

Eldee-K Rental Properties, LLC, is a limited liability company organized under the laws of Connecticut. It owns a residential apartment building in Hartford, Connecticut.

In May 2011, Eldee-K filed a complaint against DIRECTV, a direct broadcast satellite television provider, alleging that DIRECTV has a policy of installing satellite reception equipment in common areas of apartment buildings and other multiple dwelling units (such as the building's exterior walls or rooftop) without the landlord's consent. According to the complaint, DIRECTV requires prospective subscribers who reside in multiple dwelling units to complete an installation form authorizing the installation of equipment in common areas. A tenant can either complete Part 1 of the form by obtaining the landlord's signature, or Part 2 of the form by certifying that the landlord has verbally authorized the installation or that the lease does not require landlord consent.[1] The complaint alleges that DIRECTV permanently installed equipment at Eldee-K's apartment building, including by drilling holes in the exterior of the building, without obtaining Eldee-K's consent. Beyond alleging that DIRECTV drilled holes in the building's exterior, the complaint did not identify the specific common areas on its property where the installation took place.

Based on these allegations, Eldee-K sought to certify a class of all landlords who own and lease residential multiple dwelling units in the United States on which DIRECTV installed equipment based on Part 2 of its installation form. Eldee-K brought three causes of action against DIRECTV. First, Eldee-K alleged that DIRECTV violated California's Unfair Competition Law (UCL), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § § 17200-10, which makes a person who engages in unfair competition subject to an injunction and other civil penalties. The complaint alleged that DIRECTV's use of Part 2 of the installation form was an unfair business act that violated the policies embodied in California Penal Code § 602(m), which makes " [e]ntering and occupying real property or structures of any kind without the consent of the owner" a misdemeanor criminal offense. Through this claim, Eldee-K sought to enjoin DIRECTV from using Part 2 of the installation form.

Eldee-K's second and third causes of action were for negligence. Eldee-K alleged that DIRECTV negligently breached

Page 946

a legal duty not to install its equipment in common areas of apartment buildings owned by the putative class without the landlord's consent. Eldee-K sought declaratory and injunctive relief in Count II to prohibit DIRECTV's use of its Part 2 policy. In its third count, Eldee-K sought damages for the conduct.

DIRECTV moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Eldee-K's claims under the local action doctrine, which vests exclusive jurisdiction over specified types of actions involving real property in the forum where that property is located. DIRECTV argued that Eldee-K's claims are local in ...


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