United States District Court, E.D. California
SHIRLEY GARNETT, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
ADT LLC, and Does 1 through 50, inclusive, Defendants
For Shirley Garnett, Plaintiff: Robin G. Workman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Aviva N. Roller, Workman Law Firm, PC, San Francisco, CA.
For ADT LLC, Defendant: Linda Claxton, LEAD ATTORNEY, Christopher M. Ahearn, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., San Francisco, CA.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: MOTION TO REMAND
WILLIAM B. SHUBB, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Plaintiff Shirley Garnett brought this putative class action against defendant ADT LLC, asserting claims arising out of the alleged failure to reimburse her and others for work-related expenses and failure to provide wage statements required by California law. Defendant removed the action from San Joaquin County Superior Court under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005. 28 U.S.C. § § 1332(d), 1446. Plaintiff now moves to remand pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).
I. Factual and Procedural History
Plaintiff worked for defendant during the four years preceding this lawsuit. (FAC ¶ 10 (Docket No. 1).) During that time, plaintiff alleges that defendant required her and other employees to use their personal vehicles in the course of performing their jobs without reimbursing them for the expenses they incurred. (Id. ¶ ¶ 19, 28.) Plaintiff also alleges that defendant failed to provide her and other employees with hard copies of their wage statements, as required by California law. (Id. ¶ ¶ 15, 23, 28.) Her First Amendment Complaint (" FAC" ) asserts claims under California Labor Code section 2802, California Business & Professions Code sections 17200 et seq., and California's Private
Attorneys General Act of 2004, Cal. Lab. Code § § 2698, et seq. (Id. ¶ ¶ 18-29.) As part of plaintiff's third claim, she seeks statutory damages under California Labor Code section 226, which governs the furnishing of wage statements to employees. (See id. ¶ 28 (citing Cal. Lab. Code § 226).)
Defendant removed the action to federal court on December 5, 2014, asserting that, based solely on the statutory penalties available under California Labor Code section 226(e), the amount in controversy is approximately $6,794,550. (Def.'s Notice of Removal ¶ ¶ 15-16 (Docket No. 1).) Defendant originally supported this number with the declaration of Doug Cuellar, a manager employed by defendant to maintain and review human resources data. (See Cuellar Decl. (Docket No. 3).) Defendant has since acknowledged a typographical error in Cuellar's declaration misstating the time period that Cuellar used to calculate the number of wage statements issued by defendant. (See Def.'s Opp'n at 8-9 (Docket No. 10).) It corrected this error by submitting a new declaration listing the correct dates, this time by HR Workforce Analyst Lori Pencis. (See Pencis Decl. (Docket No. 10-1).) Both declarations arrived at the same number. Plaintiff disputes defendant's calculations and maintains that the amount in controversy fails to reach the required $5 million minimum. (Pl.'s Mot. to Remand (Docket No. 8).)
" [A]ny 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 or the defendants, to the district court of the United States for the district . . . where such action is pending." 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). If " it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded." 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).
The Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (" CAFA" ) grants district courts original jurisdiction over civil class action lawsuits if the parties are minimally diverse and the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2).
Plaintiff's FAC does not specify a particular amount of alleged damages. In such cases, " the removing defendant bears the burden of establishing, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the amount in controversy exceeds [$5 million]." Sanchez v. Monumental Life Ins. Co.,102 F.3d 398, 404 (9th Cir. 1996). The Supreme Court recently clarified this burden by explaining that " the defendant's amount-in-controversy allegations should be accepted when not contested by the plaintiff or questioned by the court."
Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co., LLC v. Owens, __ U.S. __, 135 S.Ct. 547, 553, 190 L.Ed.2d 495 (2014). " If the plaintiff contests the defendant's allegations . . . both sides submit proof and the court decides, by a preponderance of the evidence, whether the amount in controversy requirement has been satisfied." Id. at ...