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Francisco Ramos v. Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. and Does 1 Through 100

November 16, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dean D. Pregerson United States District Judge



[Motion filed on 10/4/11]

Presently before the Court is Plaintiff Francisco Ramos's Motion to Remand Action to Los Angeles County Superior Court. Defendant Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. opposes the motion. Oral argument was held on November 14, 2011. Having read the parties' pleadings and considered the arguments therein, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion to Remand and REMANDS Plaintiff's Complaint.

I. Background

Plaintiff alleges that he was employed as a machine operator by Defendant for over thirteen years. (Compl. ¶ 5.) Prior to September 5, 2008, Plaintiff developed arthritis in his left knee. (Id. ¶ 6.) Defendant thereafter granted Plaintiff medical leave in order to recuperate. (Id. ¶ 8.) Plaintiff returned to work in April 2009 for approximately three weeks, but he subsequently went back on leave. (Id. ¶ 9.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant then refused to authorize knee replacement surgery for Plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 10.) On April 20, 2010, however, after Plaintiff filed a workers' compensation claim, the Workers' Compensation Board ordered the surgery for Plaintiff. (Id.) Then on April 27, 2010, Defendant terminated Plaintiff, allegedly because Plaintiff had exhausted all his available leave. (Id. ¶ 11.)

On August 5, 2011, Plaintiff filed this action against Defendant and Does 1 through 100 in the Los Angeles Superior Court alleging three state law claims, including: (1) disability harassment, retaliation, and discrimination in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA"), Cal. Gov't Code § 12940 et seq.; (2) violation of the California Family Rights Act, Cal. Govt. Code § 12945.2, which is part of FEHA; and (3) retaliation and wrongful termination in violation of California public policy.*fn1 On September 22, 2011, Defendant removed the action to this Court.

II. Legal Standard

A defendant may remove a case from state court to federal court if the case could have originally been filed in federal court. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a); see also Snow v. Ford Motor Co., 561 F.2d 787, 789 (9th Cir. 1977). As the removing party, Defendant bears the burden of proving federal jurisdiction. Duncan v. Stuetzle, 76 F.3d 1480, 1485 (9th Cir. 1996); see also Matheson v. Progressive Specialty Ins. Co., 319 F.3d 1089, 1090 (9th Cir. 2003). The removal statute is strictly construed against removal jurisdiction, and federal jurisdiction must be rejected if any doubt exists as to the propriety of removal. Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (explaining that courts resolve doubts as to removability in favor of remand).

Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA") preempts state law claims "founded directly on rights created by collective-bargaining agreements, and also claims 'substantially dependent on analysis of a collective-bargaining agreement ("CBA").'"*fn2 Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 394 (1987) (quoting Electrical Workers v. Hechler, 481 U.S. 851, 859 n. 3 (1987)). Once "an area of state law has been completely preempted, any claim purportedly based on that preempted state law is considered, from its inception, a federal claim, and therefore arises under federal law." Milne Employees Ass'n v. Sun Carriers, 960 F.2d 1401, 1406 (9th Cir. 1991). "The plaintiff's claim is the touchstone for this analysis; the need to interpret the CBA must inhere in the nature of the plaintiff's claim." Cramer v. Consolidated Freightways, Inc., 255 F.3d 683, 691 (9th Cir. 2001).

III. Discussion

A. Motion to Remand

Plaintiff argues that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction and it should therefore remand the case to state court, because Plaintiff's complaint solely contains claims under California law which are not preempted by Section 301 of the LMRA. (Mot. at 6-13.) Defendant responds that the case was properly removed because Plaintiff's claims are preempted by Section 301 of the LMRA. (Opp'n at 6.)

Preemption under section 301 requires a two-step analysis. See Burnside v. Kiewit Pac. Corp., 491 F.3d 1053, 1059 (9th Cir. 2007). First, the Court must determine "whether the asserted cause of action involves a right conferred upon an employee by virtue of state law, not by a CBA." Id. If the right is conferred by the CBA, ...

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