United States District Court, C.D. California
For Victor Neely, Plaintiff: Carney R Shegerian, LEAD ATTORNEY, Shegerian & Associates Inc, Santa Monica, CA.
For Lockheed Martin Corporation, Emmett Roberts, Julio Lewis, Chris Pelletier, Defendants: Katessa C Davis, LEAD ATTORNEY, Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak and Steward PC, Los Angeles, CA; Monica R Dean, LEAD ATTORNEY, Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak and Stewart PC, Los Angeles, CA.
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
Present: The Honorable ANDRÉ BIROTTE JR.
Proceedings: [In Chambers] Order GRANTING Plaintiff's Motion to Remand
On July 15, 2014, Plaintiff Victor Neely commenced an action in the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles against Lockheed Martin Corporation (" Lockheed"), Emmett Roberts, Julio Lewis, and Chris Pelletier (" Defendants"),  Case No. BC551755. (Dkt. No. 1, ¶ 1.) On October 2, 2014, Defendants filed a Notice of Removal to this Court under 28 U.S.C. § 1332 on the ground that the district court has diversity jurisdiction over the action.
Before this Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Remand on the grounds that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction because Defendants have failed to establish complete diversity among the parties. (Dkt. No. 17.) Defendants filed an opposition brief. (Dkt. No. 18.) No reply brief was filed. The Court deems this matter appropriate for decision without oral argument. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 78; Local Rule 7-15. The November 24, 2014 hearing date is vacated. Having considered the materials submitted by the parties, and for the reasons indicated below, the Court hereby GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion to Remand.
I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
This case involves a dispute regarding Plaintiff's employment with and termination by Lockheed. Plaintiff's alleges, in relevant part, the following:
Plaintiff is 61-years old. He was employed by Lockheed from March 2008 until his termination on February 18, 2014. In the first five years of his employment, Plaintiff was promoted twice (in 2008 and 2011), he received several awards for excellence, including a " Special Recognition Award" for his services in Afghanistan, and he never received any " write-ups" for performance issues. In January 2013, Plaintiff transferred from a Lockheed facility in Afghanistan to a facility in Palmdale, California. In Palmdale, Plaintiff served as a supervisor for the " corrosion mitigation" team, which services aircrafts. At the time of Plaintiff's transfer in early 2013, the corrosion mitigation team was behind schedule and working to bring the program back on track.
Julio Lewis was Plaintiff's immediate supervisor in Palmdale. Plaintiff alleges that Lewis subjected Plaintiff to harsh treatment, e.g., he publicly criticized Plaintiff in front of staff and employees, and he referred to younger employees as " Young Yodas" and " Young Gods" while simply ignoring Plaintiff. In particular, Lewis and other managers (including defendant Chris Pelletier) repeatedly referred to Adam Stephens, a younger engineer in his 20s or 30s, as Young Yoda and God. In June 2013, Lewis accused Plaintiff of not following a jet schedule protocol set forth in a flow chart, which provided that the corrosion mitigation team should install panels on a jet before applying a " top coat" to those panels. Plaintiff explained that the protocol was not mandatory, and that Plaintiff applied the top coat first in the four previous occasions he performed the task. Lewis was argumentative and yelled at Plaintiff for not following the flow chart, which made Plaintiff extremely uncomfortable and caused him to fear for his job. When Plaintiff told Lewis that he was sick and would be going home, Lewis replied, " good, " and told Plaintiff he would find someone else who could do the job. Plaintiff left, and Lewis asked a younger employee, who was approximately 30-years old to perform Plaintiff's duties.
In July 2013, Rachel Caceres from the Lockheed Human Resources department notified Plaintiff that he was being investigated for failure to follow the " Full Spectrum Leadership" protocol with respect to the jet schedule. Plaintiff denied the allegations and explained the June 2013 incident involving Lewis. In August 2013, Lewis directed Plaintiff to schedule younger and newer employees to work overtime shifts in violation of company and union policy -- which required overtime to be scheduled based on seniority -- because (according to Lewis) Lewis preferred to work overtime with younger employees. Plaintiff refused. Shortly after, in early September 2013, an HR employee issued Plaintiff an initial Employment Performance Notice (" EPN") for failure to follow company protocol regarding the jet schedule. Sometime after Plaintiff received his initial performance notice, Lewis admitted to Plaintiff that he (Lewis) falsely accused Plaintiff of violating protocol, and that the correct procedure was first to apply the top coat and then to install the panels.
On September 26, 2013, defendant Chris Pelletier, who was a senior manager, issued Plaintiff a second EPN. Soon after, Pelletier confronted Plaintiff about issues with the jet schedule. Plaintiff explained why there were scheduling issues, and Pelletier responded: " if I had I my way, I would fire you, obviously I did not get my way." Pelletier then informed Plaintiff that he was being put on a Performance Improvement Plan (" PIP") and was required to meet with Pelletier regularly to review his progress. From November 2013 through January 2014, Plaintiff never met with Pelletier.
In early February 2014, Plaintiff received permission to transfer back to Afghanistan. On February 14, 2014, Plaintiff informed Emmett Roberts (another manager in Palmdale) about his transfer to Afghanistan. On February 18, 2014, Roberts notified Plaintiff that he was being terminated for failure to meet the PIP. Roberts dismissed ...