United States District Court, C.D. California
Henry Chen, et al.
United Talent Agency, LLC, et al.
Present: Honorable PERCY ANDERSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
CHAMBERS - COURT ORDER
the Court is a Notice of Removal filed by defendant Ford
Motor Company (“Defendant”). Defendant asserts
that this Court has jurisdiction over the action brought
against it by plaintiffs Henry Chen and Rebecca Faulkner
(collectively “Plaintiffs”) on the basis of the
Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”). See
28 U.S.C. § 1332(d).
November 23, 2016, Plaintiffs filed a class action complaint
in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The initial complaint
alleged causes of action for: (1) failure to pay minimum
wages under California Labor Code §§ 1194 and 1197;
(2) failure to pay overtime wages under California Labor Code
§§ 210, 1194, and 1198; (3) failure to permit rest
periods or pay rest period premium wages under California
Labor Code § 226.7; (4) failure to provide accurate
itemized wage statements under California Labor Code §
226; (5) failure to timely pay all earned wages at time of
separation under California Labor Code §§ 201, 202;
and (6) unfair business practices under California Business
& Professions Code § 17200. (Notice of Removal, Ex.
A.) On January 30, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a first amended
complaint which asserted an additional cause of action for
civil penalties pursuant to the Private Attorneys General Act
(“PAGA”), California Labor Code § 2698.
March 8, 2017, Defendant removed the action to this Court.
Defendant's Notice of Removal asserts, among other
things, that the aggregate amount in controversy in this case
exceeds $5, 000, 000. (Notice of Removal, ¶¶
defendant may remove a civil action filed in state court if
the action could have originally been filed in federal court.
28 U.S.C. §1441. The removal statutes are construed
restrictively, so as to limit removal jurisdiction.
Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S.
100, 108-09, 61 S.Ct. 868, 872, 85 L.Ed. 1214, 1219 (1941);
see also Abrego v. Dow Chem. Co., 443 F.3d 676, 685
(9th Cir. 2006). The district court must remand the case if,
before final judgment, it appears that the court lacks
subject matter jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. §1447(c). The
burden of establishing federal jurisdiction for purposes of
removal is on the party seeking removal. Valdez v.
Allstate Ins. Co., 372 F.3d 1115, 1117 (9th Cir. 2004).
“Where doubt regarding the right to removal exists, a
case should be remanded to state court.” Matheson
v. Progressive Specialty Ins. Co., 319 F.3d 1089, 1090
(9th Cir. 2003).
provides that district courts have original jurisdiction over
any class action in which (1) the amount in controversy
exceeds five million dollars, (2) any plaintiff class member
is a citizen of a state different from any defendant, (3) the
primary defendants are not states, state officials, or other
government entities against whom the district court may be
foreclosed from ordering relief, and (4) the number of
plaintiffs in the class is at least 100. 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1332(d)(2), (d)(5). The amount in controversy
requirement excludes “interest and costs, ” and
therefore attorneys' fees are included in the calculation
of the amount in controversy. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a);
Guglielmino v. McKee Foods Corp., 506 F.3d 696, 700
(9th Cir. 2007).
CAFA the burden of establishing removal jurisdiction remains,
as before, on the proponent of federal jurisdiction.”
Abrego, 443 F.3d at 685. Thus, Defendant bears the
burden to establish that this Court has jurisdiction over
Plaintiffs' claims. Jurisdiction cannot be based on
speculation. See Lowdermilk v. U.S. Bank Nat'l
Assoc., 479 F.3d 994, 1002 (9th Cir. 2007),
overruled on other grounds by Rodriguez v. AT&T
Mobility Servs., LLC, 728 F.3d 975, 977, 980 (9th Cir.
2013). “Conclusory allegations as to the amount in
controversy are insufficient.” Matheson, 319
F.3d at 1090-91. A plaintiff seeking to represent a putative
class cannot evade federal jurisdiction by stipulating that
the amount in controversy falls below the jurisdictional
minimum. Standard Fire Ins. Co. v. Knowles, 133
S.Ct. 1345, 1350, 185 L.Ed.2d 439 (2013). The Ninth Circuit
recently held that Standard Fire has so undermined
the reasoning of Lowdermilk that the latter has been
effectively overruled. Therefore, a defendant seeking removal
of a putative class action must demonstrate, by a
preponderance of evidence, that the aggregate amount in
controversy exceeds the jurisdictional minimum.
Rodriguez, 728 F.3d at 981.
determining the amount in controversy, the Court must assume
that the allegations in the complaint are true and that a
jury will return a verdict in plaintiff's favor on all of
the claims in the complaint. Kenneth Rothschild Trust v.
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, 199 F.Supp.2d 993, 1001
(C.D. Cal. 2002). “The ultimate inquiry is what amount
is put ‘in controversy' by the plaintiff's
complaint, not what a defendant will actually
owe.” Korn v. Polo Ralph Lauren Corp., 536
F.Supp.2d 1199, 1205 (E.D. Cal. 2008); see also Rippee v.
Boston Mkt. Corp., 408 F.Supp.2d 982, 986 (S.D. Cal.
2005). “[T]he amount-in-controversy inquiry in the
removal context is not confined to the face of the
complaint.” Valdez v. Allstate Ins. Co., 372
F.3d 1115, 1117 (9th Cir. 2004). The contents of the notice
of removal and supplemental evidence provided after the
removal petition has been filed may be considered to
determine whether the defendant has adequately shown that the
amount in controversy has been met. See Abrego, 443
F.3d at 690; Cohn v. Petsmart, Inc., 281 F.3d 837,
840, 840 n.1 (9th Cir. 2002). A court may also
“consider any ‘summary-judgment-type evidence
relevant to the amount in controversy at the time of
removal.'” Valdez, 372 F.3d at 1117
(quoting Matheson, 319 F.3d at 1090).
support of its assertion that this case satisfies CAFA's
$5, 000, 000 amount in controversy requirement, Defendant
Based on the causes of action Plaintiffs assert, and assuming
only 100 class members working each year for 34 weeks, the
amount in controversy-including compensatory damages,
statutory penalties, and a 25% attorneys' fee-exceeds $5,
500, 000. This estimate includes $8, 400 in allegedly unpaid
minimum wage and associated liquidated damages, $819, 000 in
allegedly unpaid overtime, $2, 185, 000 in allegedly improper
rest breaks and associated penalties, $85, 000 in allegedly
improperly itemized wage statements and associated penalties,
$720, 000 in penalties for alleged waiting time pay, $635,
000 in separate civil penalties under PAGA, and $1, 113, 000