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Valencia v. Del Rio West Pallet Company Inc.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


August 3, 2009

VICTORIANO VALENCIA AND CRUZ MARTINEZ, ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND BEHALF OF OTHER SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
DEL RIO WEST PALLET COMPANY INC., CANDELARIO VILLALOBOS, AND DOES 1-10, DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Frank C. Damrell, Jr. United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter is before the court on defendants Del Rio West Pallet Company Inc. and Candelario Villalobos' ("defendants") motion to dismiss the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, arguing this court has neither diversity nor federal question jurisdiction over plaintiffs Victoriano Valencia and Cruz Martinez' ("plaintiffs") complaint alleging various wage and hour violations by defendants.*fn1 Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1). Plaintiffs were employed by defendants and allege that during the course of their employment, for the four years preceding the filing of the complaint, defendants failed to (1) pay plaintiffs proper wages and overtime pay, (2) provide plaintiffs with the requisite rest and meal periods, and (3) provide plaintiffs with adequate pay statements. (Compl., filed May 4, 2009 [Docket #2].) In support of these claims, plaintiffs allege violations of both federal and state law, namely: (1) violation of California Labor Code § 510, for failure to properly pay overtime wages; (2) violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., for failure to pay overtime wages; (3) violation of California Labor Code § 226.7, for failure to provide rest and meal periods; (4) violation of California Labor Code § 201, for failure to pay wages due and for waiting time penalties; (5) violation of California Business and Professions Code § 17200, for engaging in unfair business practices; and (6) violation of California Labor Code § 226, for failure to provide adequate pay statements.

Defendants' motion to dismiss is properly summarily DENIED. While defendants are correct that there is no diversity jurisdiction in this case, from the face of plaintiffs' complaint a federal claim for relief is clearly alleged, thereby providing this court with federal question jurisdiction over this action.

28 U.S.C. § 1331 (providing federal district courts with original jurisdiction in actions "arising under the Constitution, laws or treaties of the United States"). Plaintiffs' second claim for relief is for violation of the FLSA. (Compl., ¶s 28-36 ["Count Two"].) Pursuant to that federal law, plaintiffs seek to recover unpaid overtime wages as well as liquidated damages for themselves and a class of similarly situated employees. Because plaintiffs have clearly presented a federal question on the face of their complaint, namely whether defendants violated the strictures of the FLSA thus entitling plaintiffs to the remedies thereunder, the court properly has subject matter jurisdiction over this action. See Wham-O-MFG Co. v. Paradise Manfacturing Co., 327 F.2d 748 (9th Cir. 1964).*fn2

Moreover, the court notes that contrary to defendants' protestations, plaintiffs' FLSA claim is not duplicative of plaintiffs' state law claims. Indeed, even if it was, there would still be no grounds to dismiss this action. Plaintiffs may allege claims for relief in the alternative. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(d). However, in this instance, plaintiffs' FLSA claim is not duplicative of their state law claims, as the respective laws have different requirements and provide plaintiffs with different remedies for violations of the laws. For example, the FLSA requires an employer to pay overtime wages when an employee works over 40 hours in a week, while under the California Labor Code, overtime pay is due when an employee works over 8 hours in a day, even if the employee does not work 40 hours in a week. 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1); Cal. Labor Code § 510. Additionally, the FLSA awards both restitution of unpaid overtime wages and liquidated damages in an amount equal to the amount of overtime owed for violations of the statute, while the California Labor Code awards only restitution of the overtime wages. 29 U.S.C. § 216(b); Cal. Labor Code § 1194(a). These are only some of the substantial differences between the federal and state laws at issue in this case. Thus, defendants are incorrect that plaintiffs' claims are duplicative.

Accordingly, for all of the above reasons, defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction is DENIED.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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