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Negrete v. Petsmart, Inc.

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

September 9, 2013

JEANETTE NEGRETE, Plaintiff,
v.
PETSMART, INC., a Delaware Corporation, and RANDY MOSBACHER, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

MORRISON C. ENGLAND, Jr., Chief District Judge.

Plaintiff Jeanette Negrete ("Plaintiff") seeks damages from Defendants PetSmart, Inc. ("PetSmart") and Randy Mosbacher ("Mosbacher") (collectively, "Defendants") for violations of California state law. Specifically, Plaintiff seeks relief for: (1) unpaid overtime in violation of California Labor Code sections 510 and 1198; (2) unpaid minimum wages in violation of Labor Code sections 1194, 1197, and 1197.1; (3) wages not timely paid upon termination in violation of California Labor Code sections 201 and 202; (4) unpaid meal period premiums in violation of Labor Code sections 226.7 and 512(a); (5) unpaid rest period premiums in violation of Labor Code section 226.7; (6) non-compliant wage statements in violation of Labor Code section 226(a); (7) unpaid business expenses in violation of Labor Code sections 2800 and 2802; (8) PAGA violations of Labor Code sections 2698 through 2699.5; and (9) violations of California Business & Professions Code sections 17200 through 17207. Presently before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Change of Venue, through which Defendants request that the Court transfer the case to the Northern District of California pursuant to the first-to-file rule. (ECF No. 6.) Plaintiff filed a statement of non-opposition. (ECF No. 8.) For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion is GRANTED.[1]

BACKGROUND

Negrete Action[2]

On September 20, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Class Action Complaint against Defendants in the Superior Court of California, County of Shasta, on behalf of herself and others similarly situated. On October 18, 2012, Plaintiff filed her First Amended Class Action Complaint. Defendants removed the case to this Court pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act ("CAFA"), 28 U.S.C. ยง 1332(d). On November 26, 2012, Plaintiff moved to remand the case to state court. The Court granted the motion on March 7, 2013. On June 14, 2013, Defendants again removed the case from state court, based on evidence obtained during Plaintiff's deposition which, according to Defendants, shows that CAFA's jurisdictional amount in controversy is met.

Plaintiff brings this action on behalf of herself and other current and former PetSmart groomers in California.

Plaintiff worked as a pet groomer at the PetSmart located in Redding, California, from June 26, 2007, to August 11, 2012.

PetSmart paid Plaintiff and her fellow groomers either an hourly wage or on commission. When PetSmart did not pay Plaintiff an hourly wage of nine dollars, she generally received about ten dollars an hour in commissions. Plaintiff alleges that while she worked for PetSmart, she and putative class members did not receive pay for all hours worked because PetSmart did not record all hours worked. Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that even though PetSmart knew or should have known that Plaintiff and putative class members were entitled to overtime compensation, she and putative class did not receive overtime wages. Plaintiff makes similar allegations with regard to minimum wages for "off-the-clock" work; meal and rest period payments; and complete and accurate wage statements. Plaintiff also alleges that she and putative class members did not receive full reimbursement for all business-related expenses and costs that Plaintiff and putative class members incurred, nor did they receive vested vacation wages earned upon termination, timely payment of wages earned upon termination, or timely payment of wages during employment. Plaintiff and putative class members allege PetSmart knew they owed Plaintiff and putative class members these wages and payments, but Plaintiff and putative class never received those wages and payments within permissible time periods.

Moore Action[3]

On May 23, 2012, Plaintiffs Danette Moore, Latresa Myers, Alanna Harrison and Alisa Valdez (collectively, "the Moore Plaintiffs") filed a putative class action in the Superior Court of California, County of Alameda, against PetSmart. The Moore Plaintiffs allege claims for unpaid overtime, unpaid minimum wages, unpaid meal period premiums, unpaid rest period premiums, non-compliant wage statements, PAGA violations, waiting time penalties, and violations of the California Business and Professions Code, among other claims. PetSmart timely removed the Moore Action to the Northern District of California on July 9, 2012.

The parties in the Moore Action have exchanged formal discovery requests; PetSmart produced nearly 9, 000 pages of documents, and the Moore Plaintiffs have produced nearly 1, 000 pages of documents. (Decl. Michelle Heverly, ECF No. 6-1 at 2.) PetSmart has conducted four depositions of the Moore Plaintiffs, and the Moore Plaintiffs have deposed the persons most knowledgeable on several subjects. (Id.) One of the persons most knowledgeable, Shane Burris, was deposed in both the Moore Action and the Negrete Action. (Id.)

STANDARD

"[T]he first to file rule is a generally recognized doctrine of federal comity'" under which "a district court [may] decline jurisdiction over an action when a complaint involving the same parties and issues has already been filed in another district." Apple Inc. v. Psystar Corp. , 658 F.3d 1150, 1161 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting Pacesetter Sys. Inc. v. Medtronic, Inc. , 678 F.2d 93, 94-95 (9th Cir. 1982)). "[W]hen two cases involving the same parties and issues are filed in two different federal districts, the first-to-file rule permits the second district court to exercise its discretion to transfer, stay or dismiss the second suit in the interests of efficiency and judicial economy." AmerisourceBergen Corp. v. Roden , 495 F.3d 1143, 1156 (9th Cir. 2007) (Ferguson, J., concurring) (citing Cedars-Sinai Med. Ctr. v. Shalala , 125 F.3d 765, 769 (9th Cir. 1997)). The rule "is not a rigid or inflexible rule to be mechanically applied, but rather is to be applied with a view to the dictates of sound judicial administration." Apple Inc. , 658 F.3d at 1161 (quoting ...


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