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Vasquez v. First Student, Inc.

United States District Court, Central District of California

December 3, 2014

IMELDA VASQUEZ, on behalf of herself, all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
FIRST STUDENT, INC.; FIRST STUDENT MANAGEMENT, LLC; DOES 1–100, inclusive, Defendants.

ORDER DENYING MOTION TO REMAND [17]

OTIS D. WRIGHT, II UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Imelda Vasquez moves to remand this action to Los Angeles County Superior Court for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. (ECF No. 17.) Plaintiff argues that Defendant First Student, Inc. and First Student Management, LLC (collectively, “First Student”) failed to establish diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Plaintiff’s main argument is that First Student’s Removal was untimely. For the reasons discussed below, the Court finds that First Student’s Removal meets the standards set forth by 28 U.S.C. § 1446. Therefore, this Court DENIES Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand.[1] (ECF No. 17.)

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a citizen of California. (Setareh Decl. Ex. C ¶ 7.) Defendants are incorporated in Delaware and have their principal place of business in Ohio. (Id. at ¶ 8-11.) On March 7, 2013, Plaintiff filed her original class action complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging causes of action for: (1) failure to pay minimum wages for all hours worked based on allegations of “off-the-clock” work by class members; (2) failure to provide accurate written wage statements based on failure to pay for the alleged “off-the-clock” work; (3) failure to timely pay all final wages based again on the alleged “off-the-clock” work; and (4) Unfair Competition (Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200, et seq.) based on the alleged “off-the-clock” work. (Setareh Decl. Ex. A, “Original Complaint.”) In the Original Complaint Plaintiff also alleged that “the individual claims of the below-defined classes are under the $75, 000 threshold for Federal diversity jurisdiction and the aggregate claim was under the $5, 000, 000 threshold for Federal jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005.” (Id. ¶ 3.)

On April 5, 2013, Defendants removed the Original Complaint to this Court, asserting that Plaintiff’s claims for penalties under Plaintiff’s second and third causes of action surpassed the $5 million threshold for damages established by 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2). (Setareh Decl. Ex. C. ¶¶ 22-28.) On April 15, 2013, this Court remanded Plaintiff’s Original Complaint back to state court, finding Defendants’ calculations of damages based thereon did not establish an amount in controversy that exceeded $5 million. (Setareh Decl. Ex. D.)

On July 10, 2014, Plaintiff requested leave to file a first amended complaint. Plaintiff sought to add two new causes of action: (1) rest period violations of various California Labor Code sections, including Labor Code § 226.7; and (2) civil penalties pursuant to California Labor Code § 2628. (Williams Decl. Ex. 37.) Defendants opposed on July 18, 2014. (Williams Decl. Ex. 38.) The state court granted Plaintiff’s motion to amend on July 31, 2014 and on August 7, 2014, Plaintiff filed her First Amended Complaint (“FAC”). (Williams Decl. Ex. 44.)

On August 28, 2014, Defendants filed their Notice of Removal and removed the First Amended Complaint to this Court. (ECF No. 1.) On October 6, 2014, Plaintiff filed her Motion to Remand. (ECF No. 17.) Defendants timely opposed and Plaintiff timely replied. (ECF No. 22, 24.) That Motion is now before the Court for decision.

III. LEGAL STANDARD

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, having subject-matter jurisdiction only over matters authorized by the Constitution and Congress. U.S. Const. art. III, § 2, cl. 1; e.g., Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). A suit filed in state court may be removed to federal court if the federal court would have had original jurisdiction over the suit. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). But courts strictly construe the removal statute against removal jurisdiction, and “[f]ederal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance.” Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). The party seeking removal bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction. Durham v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 445 F.3d 1247, 1252 (9th Cir. 2006) (citing Gaus, 980 F.2d at 566).

Federal courts have original jurisdiction where an action presents a federal question under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, or diversity of citizenship under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. A defendant may remove a case from a state court to a federal court pursuant to the federal removal statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1441, on the basis of federal question or diversity jurisdiction. To exercise diversity jurisdiction, a federal court must find complete diversity of citizenship among the adverse parties, and the amount in controversy must exceed $75, 000, usually exclusive of interest and costs. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).

IV. DISCUSSION

Defendants argue that this Court has original jurisdiction over this action pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (“CAFA”) because (1) at least one member (if not all) of Plaintiff’s putative class is a citizen of a state different from Defendants; (2) it is a class action filed on behalf of more than 100 putative class members; and (3) the amount in controversy exceeds the sum of $5, 000, 000, exclusive of interest and costs. (ECF No. 1 at ¶ 44.) See U.S.C. § 1332(d). Plaintiff does not contest jurisdiction based upon CAFA; rather Plaintiff argues Defendants fail to show that “the case stated by the initial pleading [was] not removable” as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(3). ...


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