United States District Court, C.D. California
Present: The Honorable STEPHEN V. WILSON, U.S. DISTRICT
IN CHAMBERS ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO REMAND [
STEPHEN V. WILSON, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
March 21, 2016, plaintiff Esbeide Aburto ("Aburto"
or "Plaintiff) filed a class action complaint in state
court against Chartwell Staffing Services, Inc. and Sully
Green, Inc. ("Defendants"). Dkt. 1-1
("Compl."). The complaint alleged claims for: (1)
failure to furnish accurate wage statements under California
Labor Code § 226, and (2) violations of the California
Unfair Competition Law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §
17200 et seq. (the "UCL"). Id.
removed the case to this Court, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1446(b), on April 20, 2016. Dkt. 1. In their notice of
removal ("NOR"), Defendants assert that there is
federal subject matter jurisdiction over this case pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d), the Class Action Fairness Act
("CAFA"). Id. at 3. Defendants take the
position that the complaint does not seek significant relief
against Sully Green because it only employs a small
percentage of potential class members. Id. at 6.
complaint. Plaintiff alleges that she was employed by
Chartwell, a staffing employment agency, as an hourly,
non-exempt employee. Compl. ¶ 2. Chartwell is a
New York corporation with corporate offices located in
Pennsylvania. Id. ¶ 13. Plaintiff alleges that
Sully Green was her joint employer. Id. ¶ 3.
Sully Green is a California corporation, headquartered in
California. Id. ¶ 14. She was an employee from
approximately March 2015 to July 2015. Id. ¶
12. Plaintiff identifies a number of purported deficiencies
with Defendants' wage statement practices that she
contends violation California law. See Id.
¶¶ 4-5, 23. She alleges that Defendants
"uniformly administered" a policy of failing to
Initials of Preparer PMC provide accurate wage statements.
Id. ¶ 22. And she seeks to represent "all
of Defendants' current and former employees in the State
of California who receive or received then wages and wage
statements by U.S. Mail or by direct deposit at any time from
the date four years prior to the filing of this Complaint
through the date of trial in this action." Id.
gives federal district courts original jurisdiction over
class actions involving at least 100 class members, with
minimal diversity, and an amount in controversy exceeding $5,
000, 000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d). In its notice of removal,
a defendant is required only to offer a "short and plain
statement of the grounds for removal." 28 U.S.C. §
1446(a). A "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, 135 S.Ct. 547, 553
is no antiremoval presumption in CAFA cases. Dart,
135 S.Ct. at 554. But when a plaintiff contests a
defendant's amount-in-controversy calculation, the
defendant still bears the burden of establishing that removal
was proper by a preponderance of the evidence. Id.
at 553-54; Rodriguez v. AT & T Mobility
Servs. LLC, 728 F.3d 975, 977 (9th Cir. 2013).
Ninth Circuit has defined the broad outlines of the process
after a plaintiff contests removal jurisdiction under CAFA.
"In determining the amount in controversy, courts first
look to the complaint." Ibarra v. Manheim
Investments, Inc., 775 F.3d 1193, 1197 (9th Cir. 2015).
Next, "[t]he parties may submit evidence outside the
complaint, including affidavits or declarations, or other
summary-judgment-type evidence relevant to the amount hi
controversy at the time of removal." Id.
(internal quotation marks omitted). This procedure prevents a
defendant from establishing federal jurisdiction "by
mere speculation and conjecture, with unreasonable
assumptions, " instead requiring the parties to rely on
"real evidence and the reality of what is at stake in
the litigation, using reasonable assumptions underlying the
defendant's theory of damages exposure."
Id. at 1197-98.
Local Controversy Exception
even where the threshold requirements of CAFA are met,
federal courts must remand removed CAFA cases when the
conditions of the "local controversy" exception are
met. Benko v. Quality Loan Serv.
Corp., 789 F.3d 1111, 1116 (9th Cir. 2015). Under
the local controversy exception, a district court must
decline to exercise jurisdiction where:
(I) greater than two-thuds of the members of all proposed
plaintiff classes in the aggregate are citizens of the State
in which ...