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Peck v. Swift Transportation Co. Arizona, LLC

United States District Court, C.D. California

November 16, 2017

Lawrence J. Peck, Plaintiff,
v.
Swift Transportation Co. Arizona, LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART Plaintiff's MOTION TO REMAND (DOC. NO. 11)

          Virginia A. Phillips Chief United States District Judge

         On September 15, 2017 Plaintiff Lawrence J. Peck (“Plaintiff”) filed a Motion to Remand (“Motion”). (Doc. No. 11.) On September 25, 2017, Defendant Swift Transportation Co. Arizona, LLC (“Defendant”) filed its opposition. (Doc. No. 13.) Plaintiff filed his reply in support of the Motion on October 2, 2017. (Doc. No. 14.)

         On October 11, 2017, this Court took the October 16, 2017 hearing on this matter of calendar. (Doc. No. 18.) Having considered all papers filed in support of the Motion, the Court GRANTS the Motion in Part, and DENIES in part.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On November 20, 2014, Plaintiff filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of California for the County of Riverside against Defendant. (Doc. No. 1-1.) On December 3, 2014, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint. (Doc. No. 1-2.)

         Plaintiff alleges that he worked for Defendant as a non-exempt hourly truck driver until December 14, 2013. (Doc. No. 1-2, ¶1.). Plaintiff asserted a single PAGA claim based on various alleged Labor Code violations, including failure to furnish written, accurate and/or incomplete wage statements, failure to pay all wages due within the pay period, failure to pay all wages due at the time of separation, and failure to pay, reimburse or indemnify for work-related expenses. (Doc. No. 1-2, ¶¶ 11-14.) Plaintiff seeks penalties under Labor Code §§2698 and 2699, as well as for unpaid wages under Labor Code § 558 on behalf of “[a]ll persons presently and formerly employed by [Defendant] in California as non-exempt hourly truck drivers who performed any services in California during the covered period and was paid on a per mile basis.” (Doc. No. 1-2, ¶¶ 15-17.)

         On August 21, 2017, Defendant removed this action to this Court. (Doc. No. 1.) Defendant's removal was based on the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. section 1332(d) (“CAFA”). (Doc. No. 1 at 2.) Plaintiff now seeks remand, claiming the removal was improper. (Doc. No. 11.)

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Removal jurisdiction is governed by statute. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441 et seq.; Libhart v. Santa Monica Dairy Co., 592 F.2d 1062, 1064 (9th Cir. 1979) (“The removal jurisdiction of the federal courts is derived entirely from the statutory authorization of Congress” (citations omitted)). A defendant may remove a case to a federal court when a case originally filed in state court presents a federal question or is between citizens of different states. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441(a)-(b), 1446, 1453. Only those state court actions that originally could have been filed in federal court may be removed. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a); Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987).

         The Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d) (“CAFA”) “confers original jurisdiction to the district courts ‘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 in which-any member of the class of Plaintiffs is a citizen of a State different from any defendant.'” Baumann v. Chase Inv. Servs. Corp., 747 F.3d 1117, 1120 (9th Cir. 2014).

         CAFA defines a “class action” as “any civil action filed under rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or similar State statute or rule of judicial procedure authorizing an action to be brought by 1 or more representative persons as a class action.” 28 U.S.C.A. § 1332(d)(1)(B); Washington v. Chimei Innolux Corp., 659 F.3d 842, 848 (9th Cir. 2011). The Ninth Circuit has held that “PAGA actions are . . . not sufficiently similar to Rule 23 class actions to trigger CAFA jurisdiction.” Baumann, 747 F.3d at 1122.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Baumann Requires Remand

         In Baumann v. Chase Inv. Servs. Corp., 747 F.3d 1117, 1122 (9th Cir.2014), the Ninth Circuit held that “PAGA actions are not sufficiently similar to Rule 23 class actions to trigger CAFA jurisdiction.”[1] In arriving at this holding, the Ninth Circuit discussed the many points of distinction between PAGA actions and Rule 23 class actions. Just one of these differences was the distinction between PAGA penalties and damages sought in Rule 23 class actions. Id. at 1123 (“In class actions, damages are typically restitution for wrongs ...


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