United States District Court, N.D. California
Edgar Renazco, an individual, on behalf of himself and on behalf of all persons similarly situated, Plaintiff: Norman B. Blumenthal, LEAD ATTORNEY, Aparajit Bhowmik, Kyle Roald Nordrehaug, Ruchira Piya Mukherjee, Blumentha, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik, La Jolla, CA.
For Unisys Technical Services, L.L.C., a Limited Liability Company, Defendant: Julie Anne Vogelzang, LEAD ATTORNEY, Allegra Aine Jones, Duane Morris LLP, San Francisco, CA.
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR REMAND (Docket No. 6)
EDWARD M. CHEN, United States District Judge.
This putative class action was filed in San Francisco County Superior Court. In his Complaint, Plaintiff Edgar Renazco alleges that he was employed as a non-exempt Field Service Technician by Defendant Unisys Technical Services, L.L.C., (" Unisys"), an information technology company. Complaint ¶ ¶ 2-3. Plaintiff sued Unisys, alleging violations of various wage and hour provisions of the California Labor Code and corresponding violations of California's unfair competition law (Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § § 17200, et seq. (" UCL")). On behalf of a putative class of Defendants' current and former non-exempt hourly employees, Plaintiff seeks back wages with interest, equitable relief, statutory damages, and attorney's fees. Defendants removed the case to federal court on September 17, 2014.
Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's motion to remand this matter to state court. The parties do not dispute diversity of citizenship. Instead, Plaintiff argues that Defendant has not made a sufficient showing that there is more than $75, 000 in controversy. For the reasons discussed on the record at the hearing, and as supplemented herein, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's motion to remand.
II. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Mr. Renazco worked as a " next business day" service technician in San Francisco. Mockus Decl. ¶ 4. Mr. Renazco made customer calls to service Dell computers. Id. ¶ ¶ 7-8. To that end, Mr. Renazco would receive a daily route from Unisys and would drive to a FedEx store to pick up computer parts that were necessary to perform his work for the day. Complaint ¶ 13. He alleges that he was not compensated for the time spent checking his daily route, time spent driving to the FedEx store, and time waiting for the parts. Id. Instead, he alleges that he was not allowed to clock in until after he had received his parts. Id. ¶ ¶ 13-14. Additionally, due to his work schedule, Mr. Renazco alleges that he was " often" not able to take meal and rest breaks, " was not fully relieved of duty for meal periods, " and was not reimbursed for skipped breaks. Id. Mr. Renazco alleges that he was required to perform work in excess of eight hours in a workday and forty hours in a workweek, for which he was not properly compensated. Id. ¶ 20. On the occasions that Mr. Renazco worked ten hours of work, Mr. Renazco alleges that he did not receive a second off-duty meal period. Id. ¶ 17. Mr. Renazco contends that, in addition to this conduct, Unisys did not provide accurate itemized wage statements. Id. ¶ 18.
Plaintiff alleges that such conduct showed that Unisys had policies and procedures that violated wage and hour provisions of the California Labor Code, and therefore engaged in unlawful, unfair, and deceptive practices under the UCL. Plaintiff has brought the following four causes of action (1) unfair competition under the UCL, (2) failure to pay minimum and overtime wages in violation of California Labor Code Sections 510 and 1194, et seq., (3) failure to provide accurate wage statements in violation of California Labor Code § 226, et seq., and (4) failure to provide wages when due in violation of California Labor Code § § 201, 202, and 203. Plaintiff demands damages, but does not specify in the Complaint the amount of damages at issue.
Unisys, relying in part on facts set forth in a declaration from Olivia Mockus, Plaintiff's former supervisor at Unisys, argues that the Complaint has put $80, 594.40 in controversy. Plaintiff responds that this calculation lacks support from the allegations or other evidence, that Unisys has not satisfied the amount in controversy requirement, and that remand is proper.
A. Legal Standard
A civil action over which a federal district court has original jurisdiction, but that is brought in state court, may be removed by a defendant to federal district court. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). District courts have original jurisdiction over matters in which the parties are citizens of different states and the matter in controversy exceeds $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). Plaintiff may seek to remand if it appears the district court lacks jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).
In general, the burden of proving the propriety of removal rests with the moving party, and " [d]oubts as to removability are resolved in favor of remanding the case to state court." Matheson v. Progressive Specialty Ins. Co., 319 F.3d 1089, 1090 (9th Cir. 2003). The Ninth Circuit has determined specifically that " the 'strong presumption' against removal jurisdiction means that the defendant always has the burden of establishing that removal is proper." Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (citing Nishimoto v. Federman-Bachrach & Assocs., 903 F.2d 709, 712 n.3 (9th Cir. 1990)). In many cases, a removing defendant can clearly satisfy this burden, because the plaintiff specifically prayed for a sum greater than the jurisdictional requirement. Id. On the other hand, in cases where " it is unclear what amount of damages the plaintiff has sought . . . then the defendant bears the burden of actually proving the facts to support jurisdiction, including the jurisdictional amount." Id. (citation omitted). In such cases, i.e., where it is " unclear or ambiguous from the face of a state-court complaint whether the requisite amount in controversy is pled, " a " preponderance of the evidence" standard applies to satisfying the jurisdictional amount. Guglielmino v. McKee Foods, Inc., 506 F.3d 696, 699 (9th Cir. ...