United States District Court, E.D. California
SALVADOR ROBLES, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
COMTRAK LOGISTICS, INC., a Delaware Corporation; DOES 1 through 10, inclusive, Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO TRANSFER VENUE
JOHN A. MENDEZ, District Judge.
Defendant Comtrak Logistics, Inc. ("Defendant") moves the Court to transfer venue ("MTV") (Doc. #59) based on a forum selection clause included in a written agreement between the parties. For the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion is GRANTED.
I. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
A full discussion of the facts can be found in the Court's earlier order (Doc. #54) of December 19, 2014. For purposes of this motion, a few additional items need be mentioned.
Defendant is a major provider of full dray truckload transportation services across the country. FAC ¶ 5. Plaintiff Salvador Robles ("Plaintiff") alleges that he is a former driver for Defendant who was initially classified as an independent contractor and later hired as an employee driver by Defendant. Id. ¶ 3.
Plaintiff claims Defendant has misclassified these drivers as independent contractors in order "to avoid various duties and obligations owed to employees" under California law. FAC ¶ 1. Plaintiff alleges that he and the other drivers were made to sign an "Independent Contractor and Equipment Lease Contract" (the "Contract"), which labeled them as independent contractors and primarily discussed the details of Defendant's "leasing" of the drivers' equipment. MTV, Exhibit A.
The FAC pleads the first twelve causes of action ("IC Claims") as a class action on behalf of Plaintiff and a class of drivers who (a) signed the Contract with Defendant; (b) were assigned to an operating terminal in California; and (c) were residents of California ("the Class"). These claims involve obligations owed by an employer to an employee; therefore, each of these causes of action relies on the premise that Defendant improperly classified the drivers as independent contractors when legally they should have been treated as employees under California law. The claims are brought pursuant to California law, primarily arising under the California Labor Code.
In addition, the FAC restates the same claims found in the second through twelfth causes of action on behalf of Plaintiff individually for labor and wage violations during his time working for Defendant in which he was classified as an employee. These eleven claims ("EE Claims") allege that although Plaintiff was properly classified as an employee by Defendant during the relevant time period, Defendant still failed to abide by the applicable provisions of California law, including the California Labor Code.
Defendant filed a motion to dismiss, which was stayed for a period pending resolution of relevant issues by the Ninth Circuit. After the Ninth Circuit's decision was handed down and the Court received supplemental briefing, the motion to dismiss was denied. Defendant now moves to transfer venue pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) ("§1404(a)").
A. Request for Judicial Notice
Plaintiff requests the Court take notice of three documents (Doc. #63).
The Court may consider material attached to, or relied on by, the complaint so long as authenticity is not disputed, or matters of public record, provided that they are not subject to reasonable dispute. E.g., Sherman v. Stryker Corp., 2009 WL 2241664 at *2 (C.D. Cal. Mar. 30, 2009) (citing Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 688 (9th Cir. 2001) and Fed.R.Evid. 201).
The three documents offered by Plaintiff are (1) a record of Defendant's name change from the California Secretary of State (Doc. #63-1); (2) a 10-k SEC Filing form for the year ending December 31, 2013 (Doc. #63-2); and (3) a "Business Entity Detail" record from the California Secretary of State (Doc. #63-3). The Court finds these documents are matters of public record ...