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Hernandez v. Starbucks Corp.

United States District Court, C.D. California

July 12, 2017

Marie Hernandez
v.
Starbucks Corporation,

          PRESENT: HONORABLE JOHN F. WALTER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

          CIVIL MINUTES -- GENERAL

         PROCEEDINGS (IN CHAMBERS): ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF MARIE HERNANDEZ'S RENEWED MOTION TO REMAND PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1447 [filed 6/19/2017; Docket No. 34]

         On June 19, 2017, Plaintiff Marie Hernandez (“Plaintiff”) filed a Renewed Motion to Remand Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447 (“Renewed Motion to Remand”). On June 26, 2017, Defendants Starbucks Corporation and Teavana Corporation (collectively, “Defendants”) filed their Opposition. On July 3, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Reply. Pursuant to Rule 78 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Local Rule 7-15, the Court finds that this matter is appropriate for decision without oral argument. The hearing calendared for July 17, 2017 is hereby vacated and the matter taken off calendar. After considering the moving, opposing, and reply papers, and the arguments therein, the Court rules as follows:

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On March 20, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in Ventura County Superior Court, alleging claims against Defendants for violation of the California Labor Code, including failure to provide meal breaks and rest breaks, failure to provide minimum wages and overtime wages, failure to timely pay final wages, and failure to provide accurate wage statements. She also alleges a claim for violation of California Business & Professions Code § 17200, et seq. She alleges these claims on behalf of a putative class that includes all of Defendants' “non-exempt manager employees who worked in California during the period from March 20, 2013, to the present.” Complaint at ¶ 15.

         On April 26, 2017, Defendants filed a Notice of Removal of Action Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332(d)(2), 1441, 1446, and 1453 (“Notice of Removal”), alleging that this Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d), the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (“CAFA”).

         In her Renewed Motion to Remand, [1] Plaintiff argues that Defendants have failed to meet their burden of proof that the amount in controversy exceeds $5, 000, 000, and moves to remand this action to Ventura County Superior Court. Since filing the Renewed Motion to Remand, Plaintiff has filed a First Amended Complaint, which adds a claim for failure to reimburse business expenses under California Labor Code § 2802.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         “CAFA provides expanded original diversity jurisdiction for class actions meeting the amount in controversy and minimal diversity and numerosity requirements set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2).” United Steel, Paper & Forestry, Rubber, Mfg., Energy, Allied Indus. & Serv. Workers Int'l Union, AFL-CIO, CLC v. Shell Oil Co., 602 F.3d 1087, 1090-91 (9th Cir. 2010); see Ibarra v. Manheim Investments, Inc., 775 F.3d 1193, 1195 (9th Cir. 2015) (“A CAFA-covered class action may be removed to federal court, subject to more liberalized jurisdictional requirements”). CAFA vests district courts with “original jurisdiction of any civil action in which the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $5, 000, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, ” and is a class action consisting of more than 100 members “in which . . . any member of a class of plaintiffs is a citizen of a State different from any defendant.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d); see also Standard Fire Ins. Co. v. Knowles, 568 U.S. 558, 133 S.Ct. 1345, 1348 (2013).

         “[N]o antiremoval presumption attends cases invoking CAFA, which Congress enacted to facilitate adjudication of certain class actions in federal court.” Dart Cherokee Basin Operating System Co., LLC v. Owens, 135 S.Ct. 547, 554 (2014). “[A] defendant's notice of removal need include only a plausible allegation that the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional threshold. Evidence establishing the amount is required by § 1446(c)(2)(B) only when the plaintiff contests, or the court questions, the defendant's allegation.” Id. When, as here, “a defendant's assertion of the amount in controversy is challenged ... both sides submit proof and the court decides, by a preponderance of the evidence, whether the amount-in-controversy requirement has been satisfied.” Id.; see also Ibarra, 775 F.3d at 1195.

         When the amount in controversy is challenged, “the defendant seeking removal bears the burden to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the aggregate amount in controversy exceeds $5 million . . . .” Ibarra, 775 F.3d at 1197. “The parties may submit evidence outside the complaint, including affidavits or declarations, or other summary-judgment-type evidence relevant to the amount in controversy at the time of removal.” Id. (quotations and citations omitted). “Under this system, a defendant cannot establish removal jurisdiction by mere speculation and conjecture, with unreasonable assumptions.” Id. “CAFA's requirements are to be tested by consideration of real evidence and the reality of what is at stake in the litigation, using reasonable assumptions underlying the defendant's theory of damages exposure.” Id. at 1198.

         III. DISCUSSION

         Defendants, based on certain assumptions, calculate the amount in controversy to be at least $5, 118, 969.[2] Specifically, they calculate that ...


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