United States District Court, C.D. California
ORDER RE: MOTION TO REMAND
FERNANDO M. OLGUIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
reviewed and considered all the briefing filed with respect
to Plaintiff's Motion to Remand Action to State Court
(Dkt. 14, “Motion”), the court concludes that
oral argument is not necessary to resolve the Motion.
See Fed.R.Civ.P. 78; Local Rule 7-15; Willis v.
Pac. Mar. Ass'n, 244 F.3d 675, 684 n. 2 (9th Cir.
February 11, 2019, plaintiff Tiffany Rodriguez
(“plaintiff”) filed a complaint in the Riverside
County Superior Court against defendant Circle K Stores Inc.
(“defendant”). (See Dkt. 1-2, Complaint
at ECF 32). Plaintiff brought suit on behalf of herself and
“all individuals who are or previously were employed by
defendant in California and classified as non-exempt
employees” for a period spanning four years prior to
the complaint's filing date. (See id . at ¶
20) (capitalization omitted). Plaintiff asserts six causes of
action for: (1) unlawful business practices, in violation of
Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17200, et
seq.; (2) failure to pay overtime compensation, in
violation of Cal. Lab. Code §§ 204, 510, 1194 &
1198; (3) failure to provide meal period premium pay, in
violation of Cal. Lab. Code §§ 226.7 & 512; (4)
failure to provide rest breaks, in violation of Cal. Lab.
Code §§ 226.7 & 512; (5) failure to provide
accurate itemized wage statements, in violation of Cal. Lab.
Code § 226; and (6) failure to pay wages when due, in
violation of Cal. Lab. Code §§ 201-03. (See
id. at ¶¶ 41-91).
March 14, 2019, defendant removed the action to this court,
invoking the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”),
28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, et seq. (See
Dkt. 1, Notice of Removal (“NOR”) at 1).
of a civil action from the state court where it was filed is
proper if the action might have originally been brought in
federal court. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a)
(“Except as otherwise expressly provided by Act of
Congress, any civil action brought in a State court of which
the district courts of the United States have original
jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant or the
defendants, to the district court[.]”). “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 Invs., 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[.]”). Under CAFA, “district courts
shall have 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 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)(2).
antiremoval presumption attends cases invoking CAFA, which
Congress enacted to facilitate adjudication of certain class
actions in federal court.” Dart Cherokee Basin
Operating Co., LLC v. Owens, 135 S.Ct. 547, 554 (2014).
However, “under CAFA the burden of establishing removal
jurisdiction remains, as before, on the proponent of federal
jurisdiction.” Abrego Abrego v. The Dow Chemical
Co., 443 F.3d 676, 685 (9th Cir. 2006) (per
curiam) (noting that Congress passed CAFA in the context
of a “longstanding, near-canonical rule that the burden
on removal rests with the removing defendant”).
“A defendant seeking removal of a putative class action
must demonstrate, by a preponderance of evidence, that the
aggregate amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional
minimum.” Rodriguez v. AT&T Mobility Servs.
LLC, 728 F.3d 975, 981 (9th Cir. 2013). “When
plaintiffs favor state court and have prepared a complaint
that does not assert the amount in controversy, or that
affirmatively states that the amount in controversy does not
exceed $5 million, if a defendant wants to pursue a federal
forum under CAFA, that defendant in a jurisdictional dispute
has the burden to put forward evidence showing that the
amount in controversy exceeds $5 million, to satisfy other
requirements of CAFA, and to persuade the court that the
estimate of damages in controversy is a reasonable one.
” Iba r ra, 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. (internal quotation marks
omitted). “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.
28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(1) requires a defendant to file a
notice of removal “within 30 days after the receipt by
the defendant, through service or otherwise, of a copy of the
initial pleading setting forth the claim for relief upon
which such action or proceeding is based.” However,
“if the case stated by the initial pleading is not
removable, a notice of removal may be filed within 30 days
after receipt by the defendant, through service or otherwise,
of a copy of an amended pleading, motion, order or other
paper from which it may first be ascertained that the case is
one which is or has become removable.” 28 U.S.C. §
1446(b)(3). The removal of class actions is also governed by
28 U.S.C. § 1446. See 28 U.S.C. § 1453(b)
(“A class action may be removed to a district court of
the United States in accordance with section 1446.”).
“A case becomes ‘removable' for purposes of
section 1446 when the CAFA ground for removal is
disclosed.” Jordan v. Nationstar Mortg. LLC, ,
781 F.3d 1178, 1184 (9th Cir. 2015).
AMOUNT IN CONTROVERSY.
argues that defendant has failed to show, by a preponderance
of the evidence, that more than $5 million is at stake in
this litigation. (See Dkt. 14-1, Plaintiff's
Memorandum (“Pl Mem.”) at 2). For the reasons
set forth below, the court agrees.
Timely Payment of Wages.
attempting to meet its burden of showing that more than $5
million is at issue, defendant first focuses on
plaintiff's claim that defendant failed to make a timely
payment of wages owed to terminated employees. (See
Dkt. 1, NOR at ¶¶ 29-38). Under California Labor
Code § 203(a), “[i]f an employer willfully fails
to pay, without abatement or reduction, in accordance with
Sections 201, 201.3, 201.5, 201.9, 202, and 205.5, any wages
of an employee who is discharged or who quits, the wages of
the employee shall continue as a penalty from the due date
thereof at the same rate until paid or until an action
therefor is commenced; but the wages shall not continue for
more than 30 days.” In other words, “an employer
that willfully fails to pay wages due an employee who is
discharged or quits is ...