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Cram v. Electronic Data Systems Corp.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


December 18, 2007

JOEL M. CRAM, MINH D. NGUYEN, AND ROES 1 THROUGH 10, INDIVIDUALLY, AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ELECTRONIC DATA SYSTEMS CORPORATION, A DELAWARE CORPORATION, AND DOES 1 THROUGH 100, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Larry Alan Burns United States District Judge

ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR REMAND

[Dkt No. 3]

This matter is before the court on putative class representatives' Motion For Remand ("Motion"). Plaintiffs are two former employees of defendant Electronic Data Systems Corporation ("EDS") who bring this wage-and-hour case seeking unpaid overtime compensation, payment of waiting penalties, and damages and injunctive relief for alleged violations of California law, as well as recovery of their reasonable attorneys' fees. On September 20, 2007, EDS removed the case to federal court, asserting original federal jurisdiction pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, codified at 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d) ("CAFA"). The parties agree the size of the putative class under the alternative definitions plaintiffs recite satisfies CAFA's numerosity element. They also agree CAFA's "minimal diversity" element is satisfied from the face of the pleading. Their dispute regarding this court's jurisdiction to decide the matter is whether the CAFA "amount in controversy" requirement is satisfied. Plaintiffs observe they did not specify an amount of damages in their Complaint. In its removal papers, EDS purports to demonstrate the $5 million threshold for CAFA jurisdiction is satisfied.

Simultaneously with the September 25, 2007 filing of this Motion, plaintiffs applied ex parte for leave to conduct pre-hearing discovery to substantiate whether an amount-incontroversy defect divests this court of jurisdiction. In an Order entered October 3, 2007, Magistrate Judge Nita L. Stormes authorized the parties to conduct expedited jurisdictional discovery. Dkt No. 18. She limited the discovery to ten interrogatories per side to address the narrow question whether the Complaint allegations place in controversy damages in excess of $5 million. As summarized in Judge Stormes' subsequent Order Denying Plaintiffs' Motion To Compel Interrogatory Answers, plaintiffs were dissatisfied with the interrogatory responses EDS initially provided. Dkt No. 52. EDS agreed to provide supplemental responses. Plaintiffs remained dissatisfied with EDS' responses to two of the ten interrogatories. In denying plaintiffs' request that EDS be compelled to quantify the potential cost of permanent injunctive relief, in addition to the quantification EDS provided of likely compensatory damages should plaintiffs prevail, Judge Stormes observed a valuation of the injunctive relief would be speculative and, in any event, "the threshold amount in controversy has already been exceeded by the detailed calculations for back overtime pay and waiting penalties Defendant has provided" in other of the interrogatory responses. Dkt No. 52, 4:27-5:3. She also denied plaintiffs' request that EDS be ordered to provide a supplemental response to augment its identification of persons with knowledge of the factual basis for its position the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million as neither necessary nor within the narrow scope of the authorized jurisdictional discovery. Dkt No. 52, 5:5-6:12. She concluded EDS had carried its burden to make a factual showing that it is more likely than not the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million, assuming the truth of the allegations in the Complaint. Dkt No. 52, 5:27-6:2, citing Singer v. State Farm Mut. Ins. Co., 116 F.3d 373, 376 (9th Cir. 1997); Sanchez v. Monumental Life Ins. Co., 102 F.3d 398, 404 (9th Cir. 1996).

Consistently with Judge Stormes' findings from EDS' demonstration, this court finds EDS has carried its burden as the removing party on the issue of the CAFA amount in controversy element. Moreover, EDS' Motion Opposition augments its showing the $5 million threshold is surpassed not only by the computations of back overtime damages and waiting penalties should plaintiffs prevail, standing alone, but also in consideration of the potential for an award of attorneys' fees and the potential value of the injunctive relief component of the litigation objectives.

Accordingly, as the court finds no Reply to EDS' Opposition to the Motion could conceivably alter the law of the case ruling by Judge Stormes nor this court's conclusion, based on its de novo review of EDS' demonstration, the CAFA amount in controversy more probably than not exceeds the jurisdictional threshold, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:

1. Plaintiffs' Motion To Remand is DENIED.

2. Plaintiffs' request for an award of their attorneys' fees incurred as a result of the purportedly "improvident removal" pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) is DENIED.

3. The Motion To Remand hearing presently scheduled for January 7, 2008 is off-calendar.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

20071218

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