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Real v. St. Jude Medical, Cardiology Division, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

May 16, 2017

JUAN REAL, on behalf of himself and the general public, Plaintiff,
v.
>St. Jude Medical, Cardiology Division, Inc.; St. Jude Medical, Inc.; Volt Management Corp.; And Does 1-50, Inclusive, Defendants. v.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND [18]

          Otis D. Wright, II united states district judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This is a wage-and-hour lawsuit brought under the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act, Cal. Labor Code § 2699. Defendant St. Jude Medical, Cardiology Division, Inc. employed Plaintiff Juan Real between 2002 and 2016, during which his job duties included assembling medical devices. (Compl. ¶ 13, ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff was generally scheduled to work from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day for five days per week. (Id. ¶ 14.) Plaintiff alleges that he nevertheless “routinely” worked 10 hours or more each day for six days per week. (Id. ¶¶ 15-16.) After Plaintiff filed this action in state court, Defendant removed it to federal court based on diversity jurisdiction. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff subsequently moved to remand the case, arguing that the statutory penalties he seeks do not exceed $75, 000. (ECF No. 18.) The Court agrees, and therefore GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion.[1]

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal courts have subject matter jurisdiction only as authorized by the Constitution and 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). A suit filed in state court may be removed to federal court only if the federal court would have had original jurisdiction over the suit. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Federal courts have original jurisdiction where an action arises under federal law, id. § 1331, or where each plaintiff's citizenship is diverse from each defendant's citizenship and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, id. § 1332(a). “Where it is not facially evident from the complaint that more than $75, 000 is in controversy, the removing party must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the amount in controversy meets the jurisdictional threshold.” Matheson v. Progressive Specialty Ins. Co., 319 F.3d 1089, 1090 (9th Cir. 2003). The removal statute is strictly construed against removal, and “[f]ederal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance.” Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). The removing party bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction. Durham v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 445 F.3d 1247, 1252 (9th Cir. 2006).

         III. DISCUSSION

         The following chart illustrates the penalties and unpaid wages that each party asserts Plaintiff is entitled to if he proves his case, as well as the Court's final calculation. The Court assumes, without deciding, that the undisputed penalties are fully recoverable.

Labor Code Section

Defendant's Calculation

Plaintiffs Calculation

Court's Calculation

Undisputed

201 - 203 (timely payment of final wages)

$100.00

$100.00

$100.00

212 (instruments issued in payment)

$6, 300.00

$6, 300.00

$6, 300.00

226.7 (rest periods)

$6, 300.00 $

6, 300.00

$6, 300.00

226.7 (meal periods)

$6, 300.00

$6, 300.00

$6, 300.00

558 (penalty)

$3, 150.00

$3, 150.00

$3, 150.00

1197.1 (minimum wage)

$7, 850.00

$7, 850.00

$7, 850.00

Disputed"[2]

558 (unpaid overtime)

$44, 632.00

$13, 440.00

$13, 440.00

558 (unpaid premium pay)

$17, 851.20

$4, 480.00

$5, 376.00

256 (waiting time penalty - seasonal labor)

$4, 620.00

$0.00

$0.00

226.3 (inaccurate wage statements)

$31, 250.00

$6, 300.00

$6, 300.00

1194 (unpaid straight time)

$6, 300.00

$0

$0

1198 (unpaid straight time)$

6, 300.00

$0

$0

210 (failure to pay wages)

$9, 760.00

$6, 560.00

$6, 560.00

225.5 (unlawful withholding of wages)

$9, 760.00

$6, 560.00

$6, 560.00

Subtotal

$160, 473.20

$67, 340.00[3]

$68, 236.00

Attorney's Fees

$2.640.00

$2, 640.00

$2, 640.00

TOTAL

$70, 876.00

         The Court addresses each disputed item in turn.

         A. Labor Code Section 558

         Defendant contends that Plaintiff is potentially entitled to $62, 483 ($44, 632.00 $17, 851.20) in unpaid wages under section 558.[4] Defendant bases its calculation on the allegations in Plaintiff's complaint, wherein he requests unpaid wages for the three years preceding October 26, 2016. (Compl. ¶ 11.) Plaintiff now appears to concede that he is entitled to unpaid wages for only one year preceding October 26, 2016, [5]because unpaid wages under section 558 are subject to the one-year limitations period for civil penalties. See Thurman v. Bayshore Transit Mgmt., Inc., 203 Cal.App.4th 1112, 1147 (2012) (“We agree with the Yadira court that the entire remedy provided by section 558, including the recovery of underpaid wages, is a civil penalty . . . .”); Yadira v. Fernandez, No. C-08-05721 RMW, 2011 WL 4101266, at *3 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 8, 2011) (same); Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 340 (one-year limitations period for [a]n action upon a statute for a penalty”). Defendant does not appear to dispute this, but rather argues that the Court must consider three years-worth of unpaid wages because that is what Plaintiff requested in his complaint. However, it is well-established that Plaintiff's allegations do not control where, as here, “it is apparent, to a legal certainty, that the plaintiff cannot recover the amount claimed.” Singer v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 116 F.3d 373, 375 (9th Cir. 1997). Defendant also notes that for the purposes of premium pay, Plaintiff allegedly missed six meal periods and six rest periods per week rather than the five meal and rest periods Plaintiff assumes in his Motion. The Court agrees with Defendant on this issue. Thus, while the Court therefore adopts Plaintiff's calculation as to overtime pay, it concludes that the premium pay to which Plaintiff is entitled is $5, 376.00.

         B. Labor Code Section 226

         As Plaintiff notes, penalties under this section apply to seasonal labor only. See Culley v. Lincare Inc., No. 215CV00081MCECMK, 2017 WL 698273, at *5 (E.D. Cal. Feb. 21, 2017). “‘[S]easonal labor' means all labor performed by any person hired in this State to perform services outside of this State for a period greater than one month . . . .” Cal. Lab. Code § 250. While Plaintiff requests penalties under this section, nowhere does he allege that he performed any work that fits within the definition of “seasonal labor.” Indeed, Plaintiff specifically states that his location of employment was Sylmar, California, not out-of-state. (Compl. ¶ 13.) The burden is therefore on Defendant to show that penalties under section 250 would apply (i.e., that Plaintiff in fact performed services out-of-state for more than one month), which it has not done. See Matheson, 319 F.3d at 1090. Rather, Defendant again argues that the Court must consider penalties under this section simply because Plaintiff requested them in the complaint. However, absent any allegation (or evidence) that even plausibly suggests that he performed “seasonal labor, ” the Court is not required to accept Plaintiff's legal conclusion that he is entitled to a penalty that applies only to seasonal laborers. Cf. Singer, 116 F.3d at 375.

         C. Labor ...


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