United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER REMANDING CASE
THELTON E. HENDERSON, District Judge.
This matter came before the Court on April 7, 2014, on Plaintiff's motion to remand. Having considered the arguments of the parties and the papers submitted, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's motion for the reasons set forth below.
On May 30, 2013, Plaintiff Alice Ogues ("Ogues") filed a class action suit in the Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County, alleging four state law causes of action against her former employer, Defendant Healthsource Global Staffing, Inc. ("Healthsource"), for failure to provide its employees meal and rest breaks, or to compensate them with premium wages for denying them such breaks. Ogues brings the following causes of action: (1) failure to provide meal periods, Cal. Labor Code §§ 204, 223, 226.7, 512, 1198; (2) failure to provide rest periods, Cal. Labor Code §§ 204, 223, 226.7, 1198; (3) violation of California's Unfair Competition Law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17200 et seq.; and (4) failure to timely pay all final wages, Cal. Labor Code §§ 201-203. The complaint states that the class's "aggregate claim is under the $5, 000, 000 threshold for Federal jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005." Complaint at ¶ 3.
On August 15, 2013, the parties stipulated to transfer the case to the Superior Court, Alameda County. On January 20, 2014, during a discussion to schedule Ogues's deposition, Healthsource learned that Ogues is a resident of Nevada. Based on this information, and its belief that the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million, Healthsource removed the action to this Court claiming federal jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act ("CAFA"), 28 U.S.C. 1332(d)(2). Under CAFA, district courts have original jurisdiction over class actions in which the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million "and any member of a class of plaintiffs is a citizen of a State different from any defendant." 28 U.S.C. 1332(d)(2).
Ogues moves to remand, arguing that Healthsource's removal notice was not timely, and that Healthsource has not met its burden to show that the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million.
Generally, parties must file a notice of removal within thirty days of the defendant's receipt of the original pleading. 28 U.S.C. § 1446. Where the initial pleading does not reveal that a case is removable, however, "a notice of removal may be filed within 30 days after receipt by the defendant... of a copy of an amended pleading, motion, order or other paper from which it may first be ascertained that the case is one which is or has become removable." 28 U.S.C. § 1446.
The party seeking the federal forum bears the burden of establishing that the statutory requirements of federal jurisdiction have been met. Lewis v. Verizon Commc'ns, Inc., 627 F.3d 395, 399 (9th Cir. 2010). "A defendant seeking removal of a putative class action must demonstrate, by a preponderance of evidence, that the aggregate amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional minimum." See Rodriguez v. AT&T Mobility Servs. LLC, 728 F.3d 975, 981-82 (9th Cir. 2013).
I. Timeliness of Removal
Ogues argues that Healthsource's removal notice was untimely because it was filed eight months after Healthsource first received her complaint, not within thirty days as she alleges is required by 28 U.S.C. § 1446. Her argument, however, ignores the remainder of the statutory language of § 1446 which states that where the complaint does not reveal a basis for removal, "a notice of removal may be filed within 30 days after receipt... of a copy of an amended pleading, motion, order or other paper from which it may first be ascertained that the case is one which is or has become removable." 28 U.S.C. § 1446. Here, the complaint itself did not indicate the parties' diversity of citizenship. Complaint. Healthsource claims - and Ogues does not dispute - that it only learned of Ogues's Nevada citizenship and the resulting diversity in the case at a January 20, 2014 meeting to schedule Ogues's deposition. Healthsource filed its notice of removal nine days later, on January 29, 2014. Because the complaint did not reveal any basis for removal and Healthsource filed its notice of removal within 30 days of first ascertaining the diversity of citizenship in this case, Healthsource's notice of removal was timely under § 1446.
II. Jurisdictional Minimum Amount in Controversy
To support its position that the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million, Healthsource focuses only on Ogues's fourth cause of action, her claim for failure to timely pay all final wages under California Labor Code Sections 201-203. Healthsource argues that the damages due under this cause of action alone exceed the jurisdictional minimum. Under Labor Code Section 201, once an employee is discharged, the employee's earned and unpaid wages are due and payable immediately. Under Section 203, if an employer fails to pay such wages immediately, the employee is entitled to an additional amount equivalent to his or her wage, for each day the wages continue unpaid, up to thirty days. Healthsource argues that there are at least 300 people in the putative class. It claims these 300 people worked 12-hour shifts, rendering their average daily wage $560, ...