The opinion of the court was delivered by: The Honorable David O. Carter, Judge
Julie Barrera Not Present Courtroom Clerk Court Reporter
ATTORNEYS PRESENT FOR PLAINTIFFS: ATTORNEYS PRESENT FOR DEFENDANTS: NONE PRESENT NONE PRESENT PROCEEDING (IN CHAMBERS): ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO REMAND
Before the Court is Plaintiffs Motion to Remand to Superior Court of California, County of Orange, Pursuant to U.S.C. 1447. After considering the moving, opposing, and replying papers, as well as oral argument, the Court GRANTS the Motion.
The facts as alleged by Plaintiffs are as follows: Donald Garcia ("Garcia") and Jesus Jimenez ("Jimenez") (collectively "Plaintiffs") filed this class action on behalf of themselves and others who worked as lumpers, unloaders, and similar positions for Defendants Roadlink USA Pacific, LLC; Roadlink USA National, LLC; and Roadlink Workforce Solutions, LLC ("Defendants"). Complaint, ¶ 8. Defendants provide freight transportation and cargo services throughout California and the United Id. at ¶ 12. Garcia was employed by Defendants in May 2005 in La Habra, CA. Id. Jimenez was employed by Defendant in October 2004. Id. at ¶ 9. Plaintiffs claim that there are over one-hundred individuals similarly situated. Id. at ¶ 20.
Plaintiffs claim they worked in excess of eight hours a day without the requisite compensation of time and one-half of their regular rate of pay. Id. at ¶ 10(a). They also assert that they were paid less than legal minimum wage and reported to work but were furnished with no work and not compensated for reporting time pay. Id. at ¶ 10(b-c). Further, Plaintiffs allege they worked in excess of five hours and/or ten hour per day without being provided a minimum thirty minutes first and/or second meal period and were not compensated one hour of pay at their regular rate of compensation for each workday that a meal period was not provided. Plaintiffs aver that this violated California labor laws, regulations and Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders (IWC). Id. at ¶ 10(d). Plaintiffs assert that they worked without being permitted a minimum ten-minute rest period every four hours and not compensated one hour of pay for each workday that a rest period was not provided. Id. at ¶ 10(e). Plaintiffs also claim Defendant did not provide a uniform of distinctive color and/or style, which was a condition of employment. Id. at ¶ 10(f). Finally, Plaintiffs claim Defendants knowingly and intentionally failed to comply with Labor Codes 226(a)'s requirement that they provide wage statements to Plaintiffs. Id. at ¶ 65.
Plaintiffs filed their Complaint in Orange County Superior Court on January 31, 2011 and Defendants timely removed on March 18, 2011 alleging diversity jurisdiction. (Dkt. 1.) Plaintiffs' Motion seeks to have the case remanded to state court for want of federal jurisdiction, as they insist that their Complaint alleged an amount in controversy less than five-million dollars.
Remand may be ordered for lack of subject matter jurisdiction or any defect in the removal procedure. 28 U.S.C. 1447(c). Removal of state actions is allowed only if the plaintiff could have originally filed the action in federal court. See 28 U.S.C. 1441. The burden of establishing federal jurisdiction is on the party seeking removal, and the removal statute is strictly construed against removal jurisdiction. Prize Frize, Inc. v. Matrix (U.S.), Inc., 167 F.3d 1261, 1265 (9th Cir. 1999); see Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992).
Under the Class Action Fairness Act ("CAFA"), federal district courts have original jurisdiction over any civil action in which (a) the amount in controversy exceeds five-million dollars exclusive of interest and costs, (b) a class action is being asserted on behalf of 100 or more members, and (c) in which any member of the purported plaintiff class is a citizen of a state different from any defendant. See 18 U.S.C. 1332(d)(2)(A), 1453(a), and 1453(b). The point of contention between the parties in this case centers on whether the amount in controversy exceeds five-million dollars.
Before determining whether Defendants have met their burden of demonstrating that removal was proper, it is necessary to determine what standard applies. The Ninth Circuit applies one of three standards to motions to remand, depending on the details of a plaintiff's complaint. The easiest cases are where a plaintiff has alleged specific damages exceeding the jurisdictional minimum. In those cases, the defendant can easily point to the complaint to show to a legal certainty that the amount in controversy triggers federal jurisdiction. Lowdermilk v.United States Bank Nat'l Assn., 479 F.3d 994, 998 (9th Cir. 2007). Alternatively, if a complaint in good faith alleges specific damages less than the federal amount in controversy, then a defendant must prove that the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional minimum by a legal certainty in order to demonstrate federal jurisdiction. Lowdermilk, 479 F.3d at 999. Finally, the preponderance of the evidence standard applies "[w]here the complaint does not specify the amount of damages sought." Abrego Abrego v. The Dow Chemical Co., 443 F.3d ...