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McNulty v. CRST Van Expedited, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

January 13, 2015

Nicholas McNulty
v.
CRST Van Expedited, Inc., et al

Attorney(s) for Plaintiff(s): Not Present.

Attorney(s) for Defendant(s): Not Present.

JESUS G. BERNAL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

CIVIL MINUTES--GENERAL

Proceedings: Order (1) GRANTING Plaintiff's Motion to Remand (Doc. No. 15); (2) REMANDING the Action to the Superior Court of California, County of San Bernardino; and (3) VACATING the January 26, 2015, Hearing (IN CHAMBERS)

Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Remand. (" Motion, " Doc. No. 15.) The Court finds these matters appropriate for resolution without a hearing. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 78; L.R. 7-15. After considering the papers timely filed in support of and in opposition to the Motion, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion to Remand and VACATES the January 26, 2015, hearing.

I. BACKGROUND

On November 27, 2013, Plaintiff Nicholas McNulty (" Plaintiff") filed a representative action under the California Private Attorney General Act of 2004, Labor Code § 2698 et seq. (" PAGA") on behalf of himself and other current and former aggrieved employees against Defendants CRST Van Expedited, Inc., CRST Expedited, Inc., CRST International, Inc., (collectively, " Defendants" or " CRST"), and Does 1-100 in the Superior Court of California, County of San Bernardino. (Compl., Not. of Removal, Ex. A, Doc. No. 1.) Thereafter, Defendants removed the action on the basis of diversity jurisdiction and jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d) (" CAFA"), on January 8, 2014. (Not. of Removal at 2.) On July 18, 2014, the Court remanded the action to the San Bernardino Superior Court, finding that CAFA was inapplicable to a PAGA action and that the amount in controversy did not exceed the jurisdictional amount. See McNulty v. CRST Van Expedited, Inc., EDCV 14-0043 JGB (SPx), slip op. at *1-2, 5-6 (C.D. Cal. July 18, 2014).

On November 26, 2014, Defendants removed this case to federal court for a second time. (Not. of Removal at 1.) Plaintiff filed a Motion to Remand on December 16, 2014. (" Motion, " Doc. No. 15.) On January 5, 2015, Defendants opposed with regard to the procedural issues raised in Plaintiff's Motion, pursuant to the Court's December 23, 2014, Order (Doc. No. 23). (Doc. No. 24.) Plaintiff replied on January 9, 2015. (Doc. No. 26.)

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Federal courts have original jurisdiction over civil actions in which the matter in controversy exceeds $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, and in which there is complete diversity; each plaintiff must be diverse from each defendant. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332; Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah Servs., Inc., 545 U.S. 546, 553, 125 S.Ct. 2611, 162 L.Ed.2d 502 (2005).

The amount in controversy includes the amount of damages in dispute, as well as attorneys' fees, if such fees are authorized by statute or contract. See Galt G/S v. JSS Scandinavia, 142 F.3d 1150, 1155-56 (9th Cir. 1998). As this Court has previously explained, " attorneys' fees incurred after the date of removal are not properly included because the amount in controversy is to be determined as of the date of removal" and " [f]uture attorneys' fees are entirely speculative." Davis v. Staples, Inc., No. 13-8937, 2014 WL 29117, at *3 (C.D. Cal. Jan. 3, 2014). A timely notice of removal " need include only a plausible allegation that the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional threshold." Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co. v. Owens, 135 S.Ct. 547, 554, 190 L.Ed.2d 495 (2014). When facing a motion to remand, however, a removing defendant must demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional amount. See id. at 553-54.

Protecting the jurisdiction of state courts requires removal jurisdiction to be strictly construed in favor of remand. Harris v. Bankers Life & Cas. Co., 425 F.3d 689, 698 (9th Cir. 2005) (citing Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 108-09, 61 S.Ct. 868, 85 L.Ed. 1214 (1941)). " Federal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal." Gaus v. Miles, 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (internal citation omitted). " Th[is] 'strong presumption' against removal jurisdiction means that the defendant always has the burden of establishing that removal is proper." Id. (internal citations omitted). " [A]ny doubt about the right of removal ...


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