United States District Court, C.D. California
Beverly Porras et al.
Sprouts Farmers Market, LLC et al.
Present: The Honorable JESUS G. BERNAL, UNITED STATES
ORDER: (1) DENYING PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION TO REMAND
(DKT. NO. 17); AND (2) VACATING THE AUGUST 1, 2016 HEARING
Honorable JESUS G. BERNAL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Plaintiffs’ motion to remand the action to
California Superior Court for the County of Riverside. (Dkt.
No. 17.) The Court finds this matter appropriate for
resolution without a hearing. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 78;
L.R. 7-15. After consideration of the papers filed in support
of, and in opposition to, the motion, the Court DENIES the
motion. The August 1, 2016 hearing is VACATED.
putative class action arises out of a “phishing”
scam wherein an employee of Defendant Sprouts Farmers Market
(“Sprouts”) inadvertently disclosed the personal
financial information of thousands of Sprouts employees to a
criminal scammer. Two Sprouts employees, Plaintiffs Beverly
Porras and Leticia Stocks (“Plaintiffs”),
initiated this putative class action on behalf of current and
former Sprouts employees against Defendants Sprouts, SFM,
LLC, and fictitious Defendants 1 through 20 (collectively,
“Defendants” or “Sprouts”) on April
25, 2016 in California Superior Court for the County of
Riverside. (Complaint, Dkt. No. 1-1 at 30.) On April 27,
2016, Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Complaint.
(“FAC, ” Dkt. No. 1-1 at 2.) Plaintiffs allege
seven causes of action against Sprouts: (1) negligence; (2)
breach of implied contract; (3) invasion of privacy by public
disclosure of private facts; (4) breach of confidentiality;
(5) unjust enrichment; (6) violation of the California
Customer Records Act; and (7) Violation of the California
Unfair Competition Law. (See FAC.)
17, 2016, Defendants removed the action to this Court
pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act
(“CAFA”). (Notice of Removal, Dkt. No. 1.) On
June 13, 2016, Plaintiffs filed a motion to remand the action
to state court. (Motion, Dkt. No. 17.) Defendants opposed the
motion on June 27, 2016. (Opp., Dkt. No. 23.) Plaintiffs
filed a reply memorandum on July 5, 2016. (Reply, Dkt. No.
vests federal district courts with original jurisdiction of
any class action in which minimal diversity of citizenship
exists between at least one member of the putative class and
at least one defendant, the class consists of at least 100
members, and the matter in controversy exceeds $5, 000, 000,
exclusive of interest and costs. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d). A
defendant seeking to remove a case to a federal court must
file in the federal forum a notice of removal
“containing a short and plain statement of the grounds
for removal.” 28 U.S.C. § 1446(a). A
defendant’s notice of removal need include only a
plausible allegation that the amount in controversy exceeds
the jurisdictional threshold. Dart Cherokee Basin
Operating Co., LLC v. Owens, 135 S.Ct. 547, 554 (2014).
Evidence establishing the amount in controversy is only
required when the plaintiff contests, or the court questions,
the defendant’s allegation.
plaintiff contests a defendant’s allegation that the
amount in controversy exceeds $5 million, a defendant seeking
removal must demonstrate, by a preponderance of evidence,
that the aggregate amount in controversy exceeds the
jurisdictional threshold. Dart Cherokee, 135 S.Ct.
at 553-54. A defendant can satisfy this burden by submitting
evidence outside the complaint, including affidavits or
declarations, or other “summary-judgment-type evidence
relevant to the amount in controversy at the time of
removal.” Ibarra v. Manheim Investments, Inc.,
775 F.3d 1193, 1197 (9th Cir. 2015). The
amount-in-controversy requirement is “tested by
consideration of 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 1198.
removal statutes are construed restrictively, however, and
the district court must remand the case if it appears before
final judgment that the court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction. Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v.
Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 108-09 (1941); 28 U.S.C. §
1447(c). However, no presumption against removal exists in
cases invoking CAFA, which Congress enacted to facilitate
adjudication of certain class actions in federal court.
Dart Cherokee, 135 S.Ct. at 554.
contend that Sprouts has failed to prove by a preponderance
of the evidence that the amount in controversy is greater
than $5 million. (Motion at 1.) Sprouts disagrees,
calculating that the amount in controversy in this case is at
least $6, 258, 062.25. (Opp. at 2.)
Proposed Class Size
seek to represent a class of current and former Sprouts
employees in California whose personal or financial
information was compromised as a result of the March 2016
data breach. (FAC ¶ 20.) Sprouts contends that such a
class consists of 8, 719 persons. (Opp. at 3-4.) In support
of this calculation, Sprouts submits the declaration of Jay
R. Andrews, Sprouts’ Labor & Employment in-house
counsel. (See Andrews Decl., Dkt. No. 23-2.) Andrews
declared that in March 2016, the IRS W-2 forms for a number
of Sprouts employees were sent to unknown criminals in
response to a phishing scam. (Id. ¶ 2.) In
response, Sprouts notified the current or former employees
that had been affected by the W-2 incident and created a list
of the notified employees. (Id. ¶ 3.) The list
contained, among other things, the addresses of the current
or former employees who had been notified. (Id.)
Andrews declared that he personally reviewed the list of the
Sprouts employees who were notified of the scamming incident
and confirmed that the list contained the names of 8, 719
Sprouts employees with California ...