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Title Jose Pino v. Americold Logistics

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


April 24, 2012

TITLE JOSE PINO
v.
AMERICOLD LOGISTICS, LLC

The opinion of the court was delivered by: The Honorable Christina A. Snyder

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

Present: The Honorable CHRISTINA A. SNYDER

CATHERINE JEANG N/A N/A

Deputy Clerk Court Reporter / Recorder Tape No.

Attorneys Present for Plaintiffs: Attorneys Present for Defendants:

N/A N/A

Proceedings: (In Chambers:) ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE REGARDING WHY ACTION SHOULD NOT BE REMANDED FOR LACK OF SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION INTRODUCTION & BACKGROUND

On January 1, 2012, plaintiff Jose Pino filed the instant action in Los Angeles County Superior Court against his employer, Americold Logistics, LLC ("Americold"), and Does 1--25, alleging: (1) retaliation for refusing to participate in illegal activities in violation of Cal. Labor Code § 1102.5 and (2) wrongful termination in violation of public policy. The gravamen of plaintiff's complaint is that he was unlawfully terminated when he complained of and refused to participate in defendant's food storage practices that endangered the public health. Compl. ¶¶ 4--11. The complaint is silent as to the amount-in-controversy.

Defendant removed to this Court on April 4, 2012, on the basis of diversity of citizenship pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Defendant asserts that jurisdiction is proper because complete diversity of citizenship exists and because plaintiff could potentially recover as much as $144,000 in unmitigated lost wages by the time of trial. Notice of Removal ¶ 14.

LEGAL STANDARD

Courts in the Ninth Circuit strictly construe the removal statute against removal jurisdiction. Gaus v. Miles, 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). Removal founded on diversity requires that the parties be in complete diversity and that the amount-in-controversy exceed $75,000. See Matheson v. Progressive Specialty Ins. Co., 319 F.3d 1089, 1090 (9th Cir. 2003); 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). "Where it is not facially evident from the complaint that more than $75,000 is in controversy, the removing party must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the amount in controversy meets the jurisdictional threshold" required for subject matter jurisdiction.*fn1 Id. Conclusory allegations are insufficient. Id. at 1091.

DISCUSSION

Plaintiff does not specify an amount of damages; instead, the complaint requests compensatory damages, including lost income and other general damages, punitive damages, and attorneys' fees and costs. Compl. ¶¶ 17--21, 24--26; Prayer for Relief.

Defendant asserts that the amount in controversy is met because plaintiff's alleged lost wages and benefits could already amount to $86,000 and will amount to roughly $144,000 by the time of trial. Notice of Removal ¶ 14. Defendant further argues that the punitive damages, emotional distress damages, and attorneys' fees would further exceed the minimum. Id. ¶¶ 15--17.

The Court is unpersuaded that defendant has carried its burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount-in-controversy exceeds $75,000. See Matheson, 319 F.3d at 1090. Although defendant provides evidence that it is possible that plaintiff's claims could exceed $75,000, defendant fails to demonstrate, using non-speculative evidence, that it is more likely than not that damages will exceed $75,000.

, 980 F.2d at 567. Accordingly, the Court cannot conclude by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount-in-controversy exceeds $75,000. See id.; Matheson, 319 F.3d at 1090.

CONCLUSION

Based on the foregoing, defendant is hereby ORDERED to SHOW CAUSE on or before May 14, 2012, why the instant action should not be remanded for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

IM Initials of Preparer


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