United States District Court, C.D. California
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
R. GARY KLAUSNER, District Judge.
Proceedings: (IN CHAMBERS) Order re: Plaintiff's Motion to Remand (DE 12)
I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND
On November 20, 2013, Leticia Sanchez ("Plaintiff"), a certified nursing assistant, filed a class action against her former employer, Res-Care, Inc. and RSCR California, Inc. ("Defendants") in state court. Plaintiff claims that Defendants violated applicable Industrial Wage Commission Wage Orders, California Business and Professions Code §§ 17200, et seq., and California Labor Code §§ 204 ("Unpaid Wages Claim"); 1194 and 1194.2 ("Minimum Wage Claim"); 510 ("Overtime Claim"); 512 ("Meal and Rest Claim"); 201 and 203 ("Discharge Payment Claim"); 226 ("Inaccurate Paystub Claim"); and 2699 ("PAGA Penalties").
On December 20, 2013, Defendants removed the action to federal court. Defendants' Notice of Removal states that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act ("CAFA").
Currently before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Remand. Because the Court finds that Defendants have failed to satisfy their burden as to the amount in controversy, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion.
II. JUDICIAL STANDARD
Removal jurisdiction is governed by statute. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441, et seq. The Ninth Circuit has held unequivocally that the removal statute is strictly construed against removal. Ethridge v. Harbor House Rest., 861 F.2d 1389, 1393 (9th Cir. 1988). Where there is any doubt as to whether removal is proper remand is appropriate. Duncan v. Stuetzle, 76 F.3d 1480, 1485 (9th Cir. 1996). The removing party always bears the burden of establishing that removal is proper. Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). The enactment of CAFA does not alter this rule. Serrano v. 180 Connect, Inc., 478 F.3d 1018, 1021 (9th Cir. 2007) ("[When enacting CAFA] Congress intended to maintain the historical rule that it is the proponent's burden to establish a prima facie case of removal jurisdiction.").
Plaintiff argues that Defendants cannot satisfy their burden of showing that the amount in controversy surpasses the $5, 000, 000 threshold. The Court agrees.
"Where the complaint does not specify the amount of damages sought, the removing defendant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount in controversy requirement has been met. Under this burden, the defendant must provide evidence that it is more likely than not that the amount in controversy satisfies the federal diversity jurisdictional amount requirement." Abrego Abrego v. The Dow Chemical Co., 443 F.3d 676, 683 (9th Cir. 2006) (citations and internal quotations omitted).
To establish the amount in controversy, Defendants assert the following amounts: 1) Minimum Wage Claim: $454, 409.28; 2) Overtime Claim: $340, 806.96; 3) Discharge Payment Claim: $489, 402; 4) Inaccurate Paystub Claim: $570, 550; 5) Meal and Rest Claim: $2, 272, 046.40; 6) Attorney's fees at 33% of the foregoing: $1, 361, 980.70; and 7) PAGA Penalties: $5, 705, 500.
After reviewing Defendants' calculations, the Court finds that Defendants have made assumptions not reasonably supported by any factual basis. Because the Meal and Rest Claim, PAGA Penalties, and Attorney's Fees comprise the bulk of the amount in controversy, the Court limits its review to those items. As discussed below, the Court finds that, even if the amounts are correct as to all other claims, adjustments to the Meal and Rest ...