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Mendoza v. National Vision, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 8, 2019





         Plaintiff Javier Mendoza (“Plaintiff”) brings a putative class action alleging that Defendant National Vision, Inc. (“Defendant”) committed various wage and hour violations, including failing to provide meal and rest periods, failing to pay overtime wages and providing inaccurate wage statements. See First Amended Complaint, ECF 1 (“FAC”). Plaintiff originally filed this action in Monterey County Superior Court, but on March 21, 2019, Defendant removed the case to this Court. ECF 1. Defendant bases its removal on the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (“CAFA”) and diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Id.

         On May 9, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion to remand the case to Monterey County Superior Court, arguing that Defendant failed to establish that this case meets the amount in controversy requirements under CAFA or 28 U.S.C. § 1332. ECF 16. Plaintiff does not dispute that the case meets CAFA's minimal diversity and minimal class size requirements. Defendant opposes Plaintiff's motion and submits additional arguments and evidence to support removal in its opposition. ECF 17. Based on Defendant's additional evidence and arguments, Defendant estimates that the amount in controversy is $12, 857, 093.75. Id. at 13. The Court held a hearing on June 4, 2019. As set forth below, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's motion to remand.


         Plaintiff's first amended complaint (“Amended Complaint”) alleges that Defendant's actions and policies violated several provisions of the California Labor Code. See FAC. In particular, Plaintiff brings eight claims on behalf of himself and a putative class of Defendant's current and former non-exempt hourly employees: (1) failure to provide meal periods; (2) failure to provide rest breaks; (3) failure to pay hourly and overtime wages; (4) failure to comply with itemized employee wage statement requirements; (5) failure to pay agreed wages; (6) failure to pay all wages upon termination; (7) civil penalties under the Private Attorneys General Act (Labor Code § 2698); and (8) unfair business practices in violation of California Business & Professions Code §17200. Id. at ¶¶ 35-109.

         Defendant's opposition to Plaintiff's motion to remand sets forth the following amount in controversy estimates:

• Plaintiff's first claim: $1, 335, 950.00. Id. at 10.
• Plaintiff's second claim: $1, 335, 950.00. Id.
• Plaintiff's third claim: $2, 003, 925.00. Id. at 10-11.
• Plaintiff's fourth claim: $3, 118, 650.00. Id. at 8.
• Plaintiff's sixth claim: $2, 491, 200.00. Id. at 7.

         Based on these claims, Defendant estimates that Plaintiff's potential attorneys' fees equal approximately $2, 571, 418.75. Id. at 11-12. This brings Defendant's total estimated amount in controversy to $12, 857, 093.75. Id. at 13.


         A defendant may remove “any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction” to federal court. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). The two most common forms of federal subject matter jurisdiction are federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Federal question jurisdiction exists over actions “arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Diversity jurisdiction requires that all plaintiffs be of diverse citizenship from all defendants, and that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a); Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah Svcs., Inc., 545 U.S. 546, 553-54 (2005). A defendant may also rely on CAFA to establish federal subject matter jurisdiction. See Serrano v. 180 Connect, Inc., 478 F.3d 1018, 1020-21 (9th Cir. 2007). CAFA vests federal courts with “original jurisdiction” over class actions where (1) diversity of citizenship exists between at least one class member and at least one defendant; (2) the amount “in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $5, 000, 000;” (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 class has at least 100 members. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332(d)(2), (d)(5). Here, the Parties only dispute whether Plaintiff's case meets the amount in controversy requirement under either CAFA or individual diversity jurisdiction.

         A defendant claiming federal jurisdiction under CAFA bears the burden of establishing that the amount in controversy exceeds $5, 000, 000 by a preponderance of the evidence. Ibarra v. Manheim Investments, Inc., 775 F.3d 1193, 1197 (9th Cir. 2015) (citation omitted). Although “a defendant's notice of removal need include only a plausible allegation that the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional threshold, ” a defendant must present “[e]vidence establishing the amount . . . when the plaintiff contests, or the court questions, the defendant's allegation.” Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co., LLC v. Owens, 574 U.S. 81, 135 S.Ct. 547, 554 (2014). The defendant can support its amount in controversy calculation in two ways. First, the defendant may demonstrate that “it is ‘facially apparent' from the complaint that the jurisdictional amount is in controversy.” Singer, 116 F.3d at 377. And for the purposes of such an analysis, the Court assumes the truth of the allegations in the plaintiff's complaint. Altamirano v. Shaw Indus., Inc., No. C-13-0939-EMC, 2013 WL 2950600, at *4 (N.D. Cal. June 14, 2013). Second, the defendant “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.'” Ibarra, 775 F.3d at 1197 (quoting Singer, 116 F.3d at 377). “A court may properly consider evidence the removing party submits in its opposition to remand, even if this evidence was not submitted with the original removal petition.” Altamirano, 2013 WL 2950600, at *3 (citing Cohn v. Petsmart, Inc., 281 F.3d 837, 840 n. 1 (9th Cir.2002)).

         IV. ...

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