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United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

Michael Terry MAXWELL, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Roy KAYLOR, Defendant-Appellee.

No. 19-16258

Decided: June 25, 2021

Before: SILVERMAN, WATFORD, and BENNETT, Circuit Judges. Michael Terry Maxwell, Soquel, CA, Pro Se. Andrew F. Pierce, Esquire, Attorney, Pierce & Shearer LLP, Redwood City, CA, for Defendant-Appellee.


Michael Terry Maxwell appeals pro se from the district court's judgment dismissing for lack of subject matter jurisdiction his action alleging state law claims arising out of a dispute regarding an interest in real property in California. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291. We review de novo. Naffe v. Frey, 789 F.3d 1030, 1035 (9th Cir. 2015). We reverse and remand.

The district court dismissed Maxwell's action because it determined that Maxwell failed to establish the amount in controversy required for diversity jurisdiction. However, the district court applied an incorrect standard to evaluate the amount in controversy. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a); Naffe, 789 F.3d at 1039-40 (setting forth elements of diversity jurisdiction and explaining that the “legal certainty” test requires a “district court [to] accept the amount in controversy claimed by the plaintiff unless it can declare to a legal certainty that the case is worth less”); Geographic Expeditions, Inc. v. Estate of Lhotka ex rel. Lhotka, 599 F.3d 1102, 1106 (9th Cir. 2010) (under the legal certainty test, “a federal court has subject matter jurisdiction unless upon the face of the complaint, it is obvious that the suit cannot involve the necessary amount” (citation and internal quotation marks omitted)). We reverse the judgment, and remand for the district court to reevaluate the amount in controversy under the correct legal standard.

After this appeal was filed, the parties entered into a release agreement in a separate state court case between the parties relating to the subject real property. See Docket Entry No. 53. Kaylor argues that this release agreement has settled all claims in this action. The district court did not have the benefit of this release agreement when dismissing the case. On remand, the district court should consider in the first instance the effect of the release agreement on Maxwell's claims in this action.

We do not consider arguments and allegations raised for the first time on appeal. See Padgett v. Wright, 587 F.3d 983, 985 n.2 (9th Cir. 2009).

Kaylor's motion to take judicial notice (Docket Entry No. 53) is granted. All other pending motions are denied as unnecessary.


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