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Gomez v. Nederend

February 26, 2009

OMAR GOMEZ, JOSE DE JESUS GARCIA, OCTAVIO ALVARADO, PABLO MARTINEZ, ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND ALL OTHER SIMILARLY SITUATED INDIVIDUALS, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
REX NEDEREND AND SHERI NEDEREND, FARMS, AND FREEWAY ASSOCIATES, DBA NORTHSTAR DAIRY, WILDWOOD DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Oliver W. Wanger United States District Judge

ORDER RE DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM AND LACK OF SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION (DOC. 10-2)

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiffs, Octavio Alvarado, Pablo Martinez, Omar Gomez, Daniel Gomez, and Jose de Jesus Garcia (collectively "Plaintiffs"), filed a class action lawsuit against their former employer, Defendants Rex Nederend and Sheri Nederend, doing business as ("dba") Northstar Dairy, Wildwood Farms, and Freeway Associates ("Defendants" or "Nederend"). See Doc. 2 Compl. at ¶ 1, filed July 30, 2008. The class of persons represented by Plaintiffs include non-exempt employees employed by, or formerly employed by Defendants. Id. at ¶ 1. Plaintiffs allege that Defendants violated various labor codes, including violation of the federal Agricultural Worker Protection Act ("AWPA") and various provisions of the California Labor Code.

Before the court for decision is Defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). Defendants argue that the original complaint, Doc. 2, filed July 30, 2008, fails to adequately state a federal claim, depriving the district court of subject matter jurisdiction over the entire case. Doc. 10-2, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss at 2, filed Nov. 10, 2008.

Defendants' motion to dismiss, filed November 10, 2008, inexplicably addressed only Plaintiffs' original complaint, rather than their First Amended Complaint ("FAC"), filed October 16, 2008. However, at oral argument Defendants stated, and Plaintiffs conceded, that the FAC was not properly served until after the pleadings had been submitted. Nevertheless, Plaintiffs may amend their complaint once as of right. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a). The FAC is the operative complaint and Defendants' motions are evaluated as to the FAC, not the original complaint.

II. BACKGROUND

On July 30, 2008, Plaintiffs filed a complaint asserting ten claims against Defendants. Compl. Nine of these claims alleged California Labor Code violations, while the other alleged a violation of the Agricultural Workers Protection Act ("AWPA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1801 et seq. Compl. The California Labor Code claims included (1) failure to pay overtime wages; (2) failure to pay minimum wages; (3) failure to provide rest or meal periods; (4) failure to pay split shift premiums; (5) failure to pay wages due at termination; (6) failure to maintain and provide accurate itemized employee wage statements and records; (7) violation of unfair competition law; and (8) violation of the California Labor Code Private Attorney General Act. Compl.

On October 16, 2008, Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Class Action Complaint ("FAC"), which amended the original complaint to: (1) provide additional factual allegations to support the Agricultural Workers Protection Act claim; and (2) add a new claim for violation of California's Unfair Competition Law, based on alleged violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 for failure to preserve adequate records. FAC at 17. Plaintiffs re-alleged all of the California Labor Code violations.*fn1 On November 10, 2008, Defendants filed their motion to dismiss the original complaint. Doc. 10-2.

III. STANDARDS OF DECISION

A. Failure to State a Claim - Rule 12(b)(6) Motion

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides that a motion to dismiss may be made if the plaintiff fails "to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." In deciding whether to grant a motion to dismiss, the court "accept[s] all factual allegations of the complaint as true and draw[s] all reasonable inferences" in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. TwoRivers v. Lewis, 174 F.3d 987, 991 (9th Cir. 1999); see also Rodriguez v. Panayiotou, 314 F.3d 979, 983 (9th Cir. 2002). "To avoid a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal, a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations; rather, it must plead 'enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Weber v. Dep't of Veterans Affairs, 521 F.3d 1061 (9th Cir. 2008) (citing Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) (rejecting interpretation of Rule 8 that permits dismissal only when plaintiff can prove "no set of facts" in support of his claim). A court is not "required to accept as true allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences." Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001).

B. Subject Matter Jurisdiction - Rule 12(b)(1) Motion

A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) addresses the court's subject matter jurisdiction. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1). Federal courts are limited in jurisdiction; it is presumed that a case lies outside the jurisdiction of the federal courts unless Plaintiff proves otherwise. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994); Stock West, Inc. v. Confederated Tribes, 873 F.2d 1221, 1225 (9th Cir. 1993); Thornhill Publ'g Co. v. Gen. Tel. & Elec. Corp., 594 F.2d 730, 733 (9th Cir. 1979). The party asserting jurisdiction has the burden of proof when a 12(b)(1) motion is filed. See Sopack v. N. Mountain Helicopter Serv., 52 F.3d 817, 818 (9th Cir. 1995); Farmers Ins. Ex. v. Portage La Prairie Mut. Ins. ...


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