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Cisneros v. Lerner New York, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

July 25, 2016


          Attorneys Present for Plaintiffs: Amir Mostafavi.

          Attorneys Present for Defendants:Alexis Gevanter Ellen Bronchetti (By Telephone).

          Present: The Honorable CHRISTINA A. SNYDER JUDGE.




         On March 18, 2016, plaintiffs Ana Cisneros and Faranak Safa (collectively, “plaintiffs”) filed this putative class action in the Los Angeles County Superior Court against defendants Lerner New York, Inc. (“Lerner”), and Does 1-20, inclusive. Dkt. 1, Ex. A (“Compl.”). The complaint alleges eight causes of action: (1) failure to provide accurate wage statements; (2) failure to pay overtime compensation; (3) failure to pay wages on regularly established paydays; (4) failure to reimburse expenditures incurred on behalf of employer; (5) conversion; (6) unfair business practices; (7) failure to provide rest periods; and (8) failure to pay timely earned wages during employment and upon separation of employment. On April 20, 2016, defendants removed this action to this Court asserting jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (“CAFA”), 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2). Dkt. 1, Notice of Removal.

         On May 20, 2016, plaintiff filed a motion to remand this action to California state court. Dkt. 8. On July 11, 2016, defendants filed an opposition, Dkt. 13, and on July 17, 2016, plaintiffs filed a reply, Dkt. 16. Having carefully considered the parties’ arguments, the Court finds and concludes as follows.


         Defendant Lerner is a specialty manufacturer and retailer of women’s fashion apparel and accessories. Compl. ¶ 36. Plaintiff Ana Cisneros is an hourly employee at Lerner’s retail store, located at the Westfield Topanga Center in Canoga Park, California. Id. ¶¶ 39, 41. Plaintiff Faranak Safa is a former employee who also worked at Lerner’s retail store at the Westfield Topanga Center from around May 7, 2012 to October 14, 2015. Id. ¶ 40. Cisneros currently holds the title “Store Sales Leader” while Safa was previously employed as a store manager. Id. ¶¶ 39-40.

         In their complaint, plaintiffs allege that they were required to make daily “off-the-clock” check deposits using their personal vehicles. Id. ¶ 42. Plaintiffs were allegedly instructed, as part of their employment duties, to deliver and deposit checks with at least one other employee . Id. ¶ 43. Plaintiffs maintain that they drove many miles each week between the retail stores and banks. Id. ¶ 47. Nonetheless, defendants allegedly did not compensate or reimburse plaintiffs for the time, mileage, and other actual expenses incurred while making these “off-the-clock” check deposits. Id. Plaintiffs now bring several claims against defendants for violations of the California Labor Code.

         In the instant motion to remand, plaintiffs contend that defendants have not met the statutory requirements for federal jurisdiction under CAFA. In particular, plaintiffs allege that defendants have failed to demonstrate that (1) their proposed class contains at least 100 members and (2) the amount in controversy in this action exceeds $5, 000, 000. Mot. at 1.


         Remand may be ordered either for lack of subject matter jurisdiction or for any defect in removal procedure. See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). The Court strictly construes the removal statutes against removal jurisdiction, and jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal. See Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992).

         CAFA gives federal courts jurisdiction over certain class actions if (1) “the class has more than 100 members”; (2) “the parties are minimally diverse”; and (3) “the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million.” Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co., LLC v. Owens, ___U.S.___, 135 S.Ct. 547, 552, (2014). There is no presumption against removal jurisdiction in CAFA cases; however, the defendant still bears the burden of establishing removal jurisdiction. Id. at 554. CAFA’s “minimal diversity” requirement means that “a federal court may exercise jurisdiction over a class action if ‘any member of a class of plaintiffs is a citizen of a State different from any defendant.’ ” Mississippi ex rel. Hood v. AU Optronics Corp., ___U.S.___, 134 S.Ct. 736, 740, 187 L.Ed.2d 654 (2014) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2)(A)). Where, as here, the amount in controversy is contested, and the plaintiff does not plead a specific amount in controversy, the proponent of federal jurisdiction must establish it by a preponderance of the evidence. Rodriguez v. AT&T Mobility Servs. LLC, 728 F.3d 975, 981 (9th Cir. 2013). Under the preponderance of the evidence standard, the removing party must “provide evidence establishing that it is more likely than not that the amount in controversy exceeds [the jurisdictional amount].” Sanchez v. Monumental Life Ins. Co., 102 F.3d 398, 404 (9th Cir. 1996) (internal quotation omitted). In determining whether ...

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