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Real v. St Jude Medical Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

March 29, 2017

JUAN REAL, on behalf of himself, all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
ST JUDE MEDICAL, INC. DBA ST. JUDE MEDICAL PRODUCTS, INC. a Minnesota Corporation; BOLT STAFFING SERVICE INC., an Idaho Corporation; and DOES 1-50 inclusive, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND [14] AND DENYING AS MOOT DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO CONSOLIDATE [27]

          OTIS D. WRIGHT, II UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Juan Real has filed this putative class action lawsuit against Defendant St. Jude Medical, Inc. dba St. Jude Medical Products, Inc. (“St. Jude Medical Products”) for violating several provisions of the California Labor Code and Unfair Competition Law. (Not. of Removal, ECF No. 1.) Before the Court is Plaintiff's motion to remand. (ECF No. 14.) For the reasons discussed below, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's motion.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against St. Jude Medical Products, alleging: (1) failure to provide meal periods, (2) failure to provide rest periods, (3) failure to pay hourly and overtime wages, (4) failure to provide accurate itemized wages statements, (5) failure to timely pay all final wages, and (6) violation of the unfair competition law. (Not. of Removal 2-3.) Plaintiff served CT Corporation (“CT”), St. Jude Medical Products' registered agent, with the Summons and Complaint on October 31, 2016. (Segal Decl. ¶ 7, Ex. 5, ECF No. 14-6.) CT subsequently contacted Plaintiff via email, stating that St. Jude Medical Products is an inactive corporation, that CT does not maintain an active record for St. Jude Medical Products, and that CT did not forward the Complaint to St. Jude Medical Products. (Segal Decl. ¶ 8, Ex. 6, ECF No. 14-7.) The parties dispute whether service was proper on October 31, 2016, in light of St. Jude Medical Products' status as a forfeited California corporation. (Mot. to Remand 5, ECF No. 14; Opp'n 2-3, ECF No. 17.)

         On November 29, 2016, twenty-nine days after Plaintiff served St. Jude Medical Products, an attorney representing a related entity-St. Jude Medical, Cardiology Division, Inc. (“St. Jude Cardiology”)-contacted Plaintiff's counsel regarding this action. (Segal Decl. ¶ 9, Ex. 7, ECF No. 14-8.) The attorney informed Plaintiff that he erroneously sued St. Jude Medical Products, and that St. Jude Cardiology is the “proper employer defendant” in this action. (Id.) The parties do not dispute that they conversed on November 29, 2016, to discuss the proper defendant entity in this matter. (Id.; Segal Decl. ¶ 3, ECF No. 18-1.) However, the parties dispute whether the conversation on November 29, 2016, changed the effective date of service from October 31, 2016, to November 29, 2016. (Segal Decl. ¶ 3, ECF No. 18-1; Beilke Decl. ¶ 6, ECF No. 17-1.) Plaintiff's counsel argues that he did not agree to amend the Complaint to change the defendant to St. Jude Cardiology, and that he did not agree that the effective date of service on Defendant was November 29, 2016. (Segal Decl. ¶ 3, ECF No. 18-1.) The attorney representing St. Jude Cardiology argues that Plaintiff's counsel agreed to amend the Complaint to reflect the alleged proper defendant-St. Jude Cardiology-and that service on St. Jude Cardiology was effective on November 29, 2016. (Beilke Decl. ¶ 6, ECF No. 17-1.)

         In any event, Plaintiff never filed an amended Complaint naming St. Jude Cardiology. Nonetheless, St. Jude Cardiology removed this action to federal court on December 29, 2016, and purported to answer the Complaint a week later (noting in its answer that it was “erroneously sued as” St. Jude Medical Products). (ECF Nos. 1, 10.) Plaintiff then filed a timely motion to remand. (ECF No. 14.) St. Jude Cardiology filed a timely opposition, and Plaintiff filed a timely reply. (ECF Nos. 17, 18.)[1] That Motion is now before the Court for review.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal courts have subject matter jurisdiction only as authorized by the Constitution and by Congress. U.S. Const. art. III, § 2, cl. 1; see also Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). Federal courts have original jurisdiction where an action arises under federal law, or where each plaintiff's citizenship is diverse from each defendant's citizenship and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332(a). A defendant may remove a case from state court to federal court only if the federal court would have had original jurisdiction over the suit. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a).

         There is a “‘strong presumption' against removal jurisdiction” when evaluating a motion to remand. Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (citing Nishimoto v. Federman-Bachrach & Assoc., 903 F.2d 709, 712 n.3 (9th Cir. 1990)). Accordingly, “[f]ederal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance.” Id. Further “[t]he burden of establishing federal jurisdiction is upon the party seeking removal, ” Emrich v. Touche Ross & Co., 846 F.2d 1190, 1195 (9th Cir. 1988), and “defendants . . . bear the burden of showing that removal was proper.” Fayard v. Northeast Vehicle Servs., LLC, 533 F.3d 42, 48 (1st Cir. 2008).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         Based on the strong presumption against removal and the Court's conclusion that Plaintiff properly served St. Jude Medical Products on October 31, 2016, the Court grants Plaintiff's motion to remand.

         A. Request for Judicial Notice

         Before reaching the merits of Plaintiff's motion, the Court turns first to Plaintiff's request for judicial notice. (ECF No. 15.) Under Federal Rule of Evidence 201(b), a court may take judicial notice of “a fact that is not subject to reasonable dispute because it . . . can be accurately and readily determined from sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned.” A court may properly take judicial notice of facts in the public record. See Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 688-89 (9th Cir. 2001). In deciding a motion to remand, “[a] court can ...


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