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Salazar v. Clougherty Packing, LLC

United States District Court, C.D. California

February 22, 2017


          Present: The Honorable BEVERLY REID O'CONNELL, United States District Judge


         Proceedings: (IN CHAMBERS)



         Pending before the Court are: (1) Plaintiff Andres Salazar's (“Plaintiff”) Motion to Remand Action to State Court, (see Dkt. No. 9 (hereinafter, “Motion” or “Mot.”));

         (2) Plaintiff's Motion for Relief from Local Rule 23-3, (see Dkt. No. 11); and, (3) Defendants' Motion to Dismiss First Amended Complaint, (see Dkt. No. 10). After considering the papers filed in support of and in opposition to the instant motions, the Court deems these matters appropriate for resolution without oral argument of counsel. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; C.D. Cal. L.R. 7-15. For the following reasons, (1) Plaintiff's Motion to Remand is GRANTED, while (2) Plaintiff's Motion for Relief from Local Rule 23-3, and Defendants' Motion to Dismiss are DENIED as moot.


         Plaintiff worked for Clougherty Packing, LLC dba Farmer John and Hormel Foods Corporation (collectively, “Defendants”). (See Dkt. No. 1-2, Ex. B (hereinafter, “FAC”) ¶ 1.) Plaintiff is represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 770. (See Dkt. No. 12 (hereinafter, “Opp'n”) at 1.) The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 770 maintained a collective bargaining agreement with Defendants (“Parties' CBA”) that governed the terms of Plaintiff's employment. (Opp'n at 1.) Article 9 of the Parties' CBA details employees' entitlement to and the duration of meal periods and rest breaks. (See Opp'n at 2.)

         On June 1, 2016, Plaintiff filed a class action complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging eight causes of action. (See Dkt. No. 1-2.) The eight causes of action include: (1) failure to pay minimum wages; (2) failure to pay overtime wages; (3) failure to provide meal periods or compensation in lieu thereof; (4) failure to authorize or permit rest breaks or provide compensation in lieu thereof; (5) failure to provide accurate itemized wage statements; (6) failure to pay all wages due upon separation of employment; (7) violation of Business and Professions Code §§ 17200, et seq.; and, (8) enforcement of the Private Attorney General Act of 2004, Cal. Labor Code § 2698 et seq. (“PAGA”). (See id.) While in state court, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) on July 20, 2016 that contained the same eight causes of action. (See FAC.)

         Pursuant to the state court's order, the parties filed a Joint Initial Status Conference Response Statement. (See Dkt. No. 1-1, Ex. 1.) In that filing, Plaintiff alleged that “Defendants maintained facially illegal meal and rest break policies and applied those policies to all non-exempt employees.” (Id. at 3.) Because Plaintiff attacked the Parties' CBA, Defendants believe that Plaintiff's argument created a basis for federal subject-matter jurisdiction under § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (“LMRA”), 29 U.S.C. § 185. (Opp'n at 3-5). Section 301 of the LMRA creates federal jurisdiction in “[s]uits for violation of contracts between an employer and a labor organization representing employees in an industry affecting commerce.” 29 U.S.C. § 185(a).

         Based on this perceived federal jurisdiction, Defendants filed a Notice of Removal on December 22, 2016 invoking the Court's jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. (Dkt. No. 1-1.) On January 20, 2017, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion seeking to remand the case to state court. (See Mot.) On January 23, 2017, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint. (See Dkt. No. 10.) Then, on January 27, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Relief from Local Rule 23-3. (See Dkt. No. 11.) Defendants filed their Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion to Remand on February 6, 2017. (See Opp'n.) Also on February 6, 2017, the parties stipulated to permit Plaintiff to amend the FAC. (See Dkt. Nos. 14, 15.) Accordingly, Plaintiff filed his Second Amended Complaint on February 8, 2017. (Dkt. No. 16 (“SAC”).) Finally, on February 10, 2017, Plaintiff replied in support of his Motion to Remand. (See Dkt. No. 17 (hereinafter, “Reply”).)


         Federal courts are of limited jurisdiction and possess only that jurisdiction which is authorized by either the Constitution or federal statute. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, federal courts have jurisdiction over “all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331. A case “arises under” federal law if a plaintiff's “well-pleaded complaint[1] establishes either that federal law creates the cause of action” or that the plaintiff's “right to relief under state law requires resolution of a substantial question of federal law in dispute between the parties.” Franchise Tax Bd. v. Constr. Laborers Vacation Trust for S. Cal., 463 U.S. 1, 13 (1983). 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) provides that a civil action may be removed to the district court only if the district court has original jurisdiction over the issues alleged in the state court complaint.

         In determining whether removal in a given case is proper, a court should “strictly construe the removal statute against removal jurisdiction.” Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). “Federal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance.” Id. The removing party, therefore, bears a heavy burden to rebut the presumption against removal. See Id. “[T]he court resolves all ambiguity in favor of remand to state court.” Hunter v. Philip Morris USA, 582 F.3d 1039, 1042 (9th Cir. 2009) (citing Gaus, 980 F.2d at 566).

         IV. ...

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