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Schiller v. David's Bridal

July 14, 2010

ESTELLA SCHILLER, INDIVIDUALLY, AND ON BEHALF OF OTHER MEMBERS OF THE GENERAL PUBLIC SIMILARLY SITUATED, AND AS AN AGGRIEVED EMPLOYEE PURSUANT TO THE PRIVATE ATTORNEYS GENERAL ACT ("PAGA"), PLAINTIFF,
v.
DAVID'S BRIDAL, INC., A FLORIDA CORPORATION, AND DOES 1 THROUGH 10, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sheila K. Oberto United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR REMAND

(Docket No. 10)

I. BACKGROUND

On January 15, 2010, Plaintiff Estella Schiller filed suit in Stanislaus County Superior Court against her former employer, Defendant David's Bridal Inc., on behalf of herself and others similarly situated. On March 8, 2010, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint ("FAC").*fn1 On March 9, 2010, Defendant was served with copies of Plaintiff's Summons and the FAC, entitled "First Amended Class Action and PAGA Complaint." Plaintiff's FAC alleges eight (8) causes of action:

(1) Failure to Pay Overtime Wages - California Labor Code §§ 510 and 1198

(2) Failure to Provide Meal Periods or Pay Meal Period Premiums - California Labor Code §§ 226.7 and 512(a)

(3) Failure to Reimburse Employees for Business Expenses - California Labor Code §§ 2800 and 2802

(4) Failure to Pay the Required Minimum Wage - California Labor Code §§ 1194, 1197, and 1197.1

(5) Failure to Timely Pay Wages at Termination - California Labor Code §§ 201 and 202

(6) Failure to Timely Pay Wages During Employment - California Labor Code § 204

(7) Failure to Provide Accurate, Itemized Wage Statements - California Labor Code § 226(a)

(8) Unfair Business Practices - California Business and Professions Code § 17200 Plaintiff also seeks penalties under the Private Attorney General Act of 2004 ("PAGA") for each cause of action one through seven. In general, PAGA is intended to authorize aggrieved employees, acting as private attorneys general, to assess and collect civil penalties for violations of the Labor Code. Under PAGA, Plaintiff may seek penalties in the sum of one hundred dollars ($100) per aggrieved employee, per pay period for an initial Labor Code violation, and two hundred dollars ($200) for each subsequent violation per aggrieved employee, per pay period. Cal. Lab. Code § 2699(f)(2). If an employee successfully recovers an award of civil penalties, PAGA mandates that 75 percent of the recovery be paid to the Labor and Workforce Development Agency ("LWDA"), leaving the remaining 25 percent as recovery for the employee. Amaral v. Cintas Corp., 163 Cal. App. 4th 1157, 1195 (2008) (citing Cal. Labor Code § 2699(i)).

On April 6, 2010, Defendant filed an Answer to the FAC. On April 8, 2010, Defendant filed a "Notice of Removal of Action to Federal Court," asserting jurisdiction exists under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005. On May 7, 2010, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Remand, asserting that Defendant had failed to carry its burden to show that the amount in controversy meets or exceeds the jurisdictional minimum. It is Plaintiff's motion to remand that is currently pending before the Court.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standard

Signed into law on February 18, 2005, the Class Action Fairness Act ("CAFA") significantly expanded federal subject matter and removal jurisdiction over class actions that commenced on or after CAFA's effective date. "CAFA amends, inter alia, the federal diversity statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1332, and now vests original jurisdiction for class actions in federal court where there is minimal diversity and the amount in controversy exceeds $5,000,000." Bush v. Cheaptickets, Inc., 425 F.3d 683, 684 (9th Cir. 2005) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)). CAFA makes it easier for litigants to remove class actions to federal district courts. See 28 U.S.C. §1453(b).

Where a complaint does not allege a specific amount in damages, the removing defendant bears the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the amount in controversy exceeds the statutory minimum. Singer v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 116 F.3d 373, 376 (9th Cir. 1997). In other words, if it is not clear from the face of the complaint that the jurisdictional amount is met, then the defendant has the burden of showing by a preponderance of evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million. The preponderance of the evidence standard means that the "defendant must provide evidence establishing that it is more likely than not that the amount in controversy exceeds that amount." Sanchez v. Monumental Life Ins. Co., 102 F.3d 398, 404 (9th Cir. 1996) (internal quotations omitted). This burden is not ...


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