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Arreola v. Finish Line

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

December 9, 2014

HERIBERTO ARREOLA, an individual, on behalf of himself, and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
THE FINISH LINE, Defendant

For Heriberto Arreola, Plaintiff: Eric B. Kingsley, Liane Katzenstein Ly, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Kingsley & Kingsley, APC, Encino, CA; Sahag Majarian, II, LEAD ATTORNEY, Law Office of Sahag Majarian II, Tarzana, CA.

For The Finish Line, Inc., Defendant: Scott J. Witlin, Steve Lou Hernandez, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Barnes & Thornburg LLP, Los Angeles, CA; Tiffany L Koenig, BARNES and THORNBURG LLP, Los Angeles, CA.

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND AND GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO TRANSFER

LUCY H. KOH, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Heriberto Arreola (" Arreola") brings this action alleging wage and hour violations under various provisions of the California Labor Code and Business and Professions Code against defendant The Finish Line (" Finish Line"). Before the Court is Arreola's motion to remand pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1447(c) (" Mot. Remand") and Finish Line's motion to transfer venue to the Central District of California (" Mot. Transfer"). The Court, having considered the record in this case, applicable law, and the parties' briefs, DENIES Arreola's Motion to Remand and GRANTS Finish Line's Motion to Transfer.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

Finish Line is a retailer of athletic shoes, apparel, and accessories, with its headquarters in Indiana. ECF No. 1, ¶ ¶ 12-14; ECF No. 23-2, at 8. As of April 2014, Finish Line operated 644 stores in 46 states, including in California. Id.

Arreola is a former hourly employee of Finish Line's store in Montebello, California, which is located in the Central District of California. Declaration of Mark Clark in Support of Motion to Transfer, ECF No. 20-1, ¶ 2. During Arreola's employment at Finish Line, Arreola also resided in the Central District of California. Id. At Finish Line, Arreola held the job title of " Sales Lead." Id.

B. Procedural History

On May 14, 2014, Arreola filed a complaint in Santa Clara Superior Court, alleging that Finish Line and fifty unnamed Does violated California Labor Code § § 201, 202, 203, 226(a), 510, 558, 1194, and 1199, Wage Order 7-2001, and Business & Professions Code § § 17200-17208. First Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 5-6. The gravamen of Arreola's allegation is that Finish Line failed to pay regular and overtime wages; failed to compensate its hourly employees for certain tasks (such as attending weekly management conference calls, undergoing a security check, and turning on their computers); and failed to maintain adequate time records and itemized wage statements. Id. ¶ ¶ 2-4. Arreola seeks unpaid wages and/or overtime, penalties, injunctive relief, and attorney's fees and costs for his claims brought under the California Labor Code, as well as injunctive relief, restitution, and disgorgement for Arreola's claims brought under the California Business and Professions Code. Id. ¶ ¶ 6-7. However, Arreola does not specify an amount of damages. See id. at 15-16. Pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure § 382, Arreola seeks to represent two classes. First, Arreola seeks to represent a class of all current and former Finish Line employees in California who were employed as " Hourly Employees since four (4) years prior to the filing of this action to the present." Id. ¶ 28. Second, Arreola seeks to represent a sub-class of all current and former Finish Line employees who were employed in California " as a 'Sales Lead' since four (4) years prior to the filing of this action to the present." Id.

On July 23, 2014, Finish Line removed Arreola's complaint to this Court based on several claims of federal jurisdiction. ECF No. 1. On August 8, 2014, Arreola filed a motion to remand this action back to state court, ECF No. 19, with one supporting declaration and exhibit, ECF Nos. 19-1 & 19-2. Finish Line filed an opposition to the motion on August 22, 2014, ECF No. 21 (" Opp'n Mot. Remand"), with one supporting declaration, ECF No. 21-1. Arreola filed a reply on August 29, 2014, ECF No. 22 (" Reply Mot. Remand."), with one supporting declaration, ECF No. 22-1.

On August 15, 2014, Finish Line filed a motion to transfer venue to the Central District of California, ECF No. 20 (" Mot. Transfer"), with two supporting declarations, ECF Nos. 20-1 & 20-2. Arreola filed an opposition to the motion to transfer on August 29, 2014, ECF No. 23 (" Opp'n Mot. Transfer"), with a supporting declaration and four exhibits, ECF Nos. 23-1, 23-2, 23-3 & 23-4. Finish Line filed a reply on September 5, 2014. ECF No. 24 (" Reply Mot. Transfer").

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A. Motion to Remand

The removal statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1441, provides in relevant part that " any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant . . . to the district court of the United States for the district and division embracing the place where such action is pending." 28 U.S.C. § 1441. The Class Action Fairness Act (" CAFA") vests the federal courts with original jurisdiction over class actions that meet the following prerequisites: (1) " the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $5, 000, 000, exclusive of interest and costs"; (2) the parties meet minimal requirements for diversity, including that " any member of a class of plaintiffs is a citizen of a State different from any defendant"; and (3) the class equals to or exceeds 100 individuals in the aggregate. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d). District courts also have diversity jurisdiction over all civil actions between citizens of different states where the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Furthermore, district courts have original jurisdiction over " all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 1331. If, at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over a case that has been removed to federal court, the case must be remanded. See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).

A plaintiff may bring a motion to remand to challenge removal of an action to federal court for lack of subject matter jurisdiction or for a defect in the removal procedure. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). Upon a motion to remand to state court, the party asserting federal jurisdiction has the burden of proof. Emrich v. Touche Ross & Co., 846 F.2d 1190, 1195 (9th Cir. 1988). " The removal statute is strictly construed, and any doubt about the right of removal requires resolution in favor of remand." Moore-Thomas v. Ala. Airlines, Inc., 553 F.3d 1241, 1244 (9th Cir. 2009) (citing Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992)). As a result, " [t]he defendant always bears the burden of establishing that removal is proper." Id. (internal quotation omitted).

B. Motion to Transfer

28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) authorizes the transfer of a case to another district in certain circumstances. 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). For a court to transfer venue pursuant to § 1404(a), the moving party bears the burden of showing that: (1) the transferee court is one in which the original action could have been brought, and (2) the convenience of the parties and witnesses in the interest of justice favor transfer. See Hatch v. Reliance Ins. Co., 758 F.2d 409, 414 (9th Cir. 1985) (internal quotation marks omitted). The decision to transfer pursuant to § 1404(a) is within the court's discretion. Ventress v. Japan Airlines, 486 F.3d 1111, 1118 (9th Cir. 2007).

III. DISCUSSION

A. Motion to Remand

Finish Line asserts that it properly removed Arreola's lawsuit to federal court for three reasons. First, Finish Line alleges that Arreola's complaint meets the requirements of CAFA because Arreola seeks to represent a class of over 100 individuals, the parties are minimally diverse, and Arreola's claims put at least $5 million in controversy. ECF No. 1 ¶ ¶ 23-24. Second, Finish Line contends that a labor class action lawsuit regarding wages, hours, or working conditions--such as Arreola's--is preempted by the National Labor Relations Act. Id. ¶ ¶ 17-22. Finally, Finish Line argues this Court has diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) because Arreola and Finish Line are citizens of different states, and Arreola's individual claim puts at least $75, 000 at issue. Id. ¶ ¶ 41-52. The Court will address Finish Line's CAFA ...


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