United States District Court, C.D. California
PRESENT THE HONORABLE PERCY ANDERSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
IN CHAMBERS - COURT ORDER
the Court is a Notice of Removal filed by defendant Durham
D&M LLC (“Defendant”) on July 22, 2019.
(Docket No. 1.) Defendant contends that the Court possesses
federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1331 over the action brought against it by plaintiff Penny
Gardner (“Plaintiff”). Specifically,
Defendant's Notice of Removal asserts that this
Court's jurisdiction is based on section 301 of the Labor
Management Relations Act (the “LMRA”), 29 U.S.C.
filed her Complaint in San Bernardino County Superior Court
on June 12, 2019. (Notice of Removal ¶ 1; see
Compl., Notice of Removal Ex. A.) The Complaint alleges a
single claim for failure to timely pay wages to employees in
violation of California Labor Code section 204, brought
pursuant to California's Private Attorney General Act.
(Compl. ¶¶ 1, 5, 14-18.) According to the Notice of
Removal, Plaintiff and the other employees she seeks to
represent were subject to collective bargaining agreements
(“CBAs”) between Defendant and the Teamsters
Local Union No. 572. (Notice of Removal ¶ 17;
see Cozza Decl. & Exs. A, B, Docket No. 5.)
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, having subject
matter jurisdiction only over matters authorized by the
Constitution and Congress. See Kokkonen v. Guardian Life
Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375, 377, 114 S.Ct. 1673, 128 L.Ed.2d
391 (1994). A suit filed in state court may be removed to
federal court if the federal court would have had original
jurisdiction over the suit. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). A
removed action must be remanded to state court if the federal
court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. Id. §
1447(c). “The burden of establishing federal
jurisdiction is on the party seeking removal, and the removal
statute is strictly construed against removal
jurisdiction.” Prize Frize, Inc. v. Matrix (U.S.)
Inc., 167 F.3d 1261, 1265 (9th Cir. 1999).
“Federal 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).
28 U.S.C. § 1331, this Court has original jurisdiction
over civil actions “arising under” federal law.
Removal based on § 1331 is governed by the
“well-pleaded complaint” rule. Caterpillar,
Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392, 107 S.Ct. 2425, 96
L.Ed.2d 318 (1987). Under the rule, “federal
jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is presented
on the face of a plaintiff's properly pleaded
complaint.” Id. at 392. If the complaint does
not specify whether a claim is based on federal or state law,
it is a claim “arising under” federal law only if
it is “clear” that it raises a federal question.
Duncan v. Stuetzle, 76 F.3d 1480, 1485 (9th
Cir. 1996). Thus, the plaintiff is generally the
“master of the claim.” Caterpillar, 482
U.S. at 392. There is no federal question jurisdiction simply
because there is a federal defense to the claim. Id.
The only exception to this rule is where a plaintiff's
federal claim has been disguised by “artful pleading,
” such as where the only claim is a federal one or is a
state claim preempted by federal law. Sullivan v. First
Affiliated Sec., Inc., 813 F.2d 1368, 1372 (9th Cir.
Defendant contends that the Court has federal question
jurisdiction because this action arises under section 301 of
the LMRA. (Notice of Removal ¶¶ 11-31.) Section 301
of LMRA states that “[s]uits for violation of contracts
between an employer and a labor organization representing
employees . . . may be brought in any district court of the
United States having jurisdiction of the parties . . .
.” 29 U.S.C. § 185(a). The Supreme Court has
interpreted section 301 to require claims “alleging a
violation of a provision of a labor contract [to] be brought
under § 301 and be resolved by reference to federal
law.” Allis-Chalmers Corp. v. Lueck, 471 U.S.
202, 210, 105 S.Ct. 1904, 85 L.Ed.2d 206 (1985). This
preemption of state claims “extend[s] beyond suits
alleging contract violations” to those requiring
interpretation of the provisions of labor agreements:
[Q]uestions relating to what the parties to a labor agreement
agreed, and what legal consequences were intended to flow
from breaches of that agreement, must be resolved by
references to uniform federal law, whether such questions
arise in the context of a suit for breach of contract or in a
suit alleging liability in tort. Any other result would
elevate form over substance and allow parties to evade the
requirements of § 301 by relabeling their contract
claims as claims for tortious breach of contract.
Id. at 210-11. However, the scope of section 301
preemption is not absolute:
[N]ot every dispute concerning employment, or tangentially
involving a provision of a collective-bargaining agreement,
is pre-empted by § 301 other provisions of the federal
labor law. . . . Clearly, § 301 does not grant the
parties to a collective-bargaining agreement the ability to
contract for what is illegal under state law. In extending
the pre-emptive effect of § 301 beyond suits for breach
of contract, it would be inconsistent with congressional
intent under that section to preempt state rules that
proscribe conduct, or establish rights and obligations,
independent of a labor contract.
Id. at 211-12. “In order to help preserve
state authority in areas involving minimum labor standards,
the Supreme Court has distinguished between claims that
require interpretation or construction of a labor agreement
and those that require a court simply to ‘look at'
the agreement.” Balcorta v. Twentieth Century-Fox
Film Corp., 208 F.3d 1102, 1108 (9th Cir. 2000) (citing
Livadas v. Bradshaw, 512 U.S. 107, 123-26, 114 S.Ct.
2068, 129 L.Ed.2d 93 (1994)). In particular, “when the
meaning of contract terms is not subject to dispute, the bare
fact that a collective-bargaining agreement will be consulted
in the course of state-law litigation plainly does not
require the claim to be extinguished.”
Livadas, 512 U.S. at 124 (citing Lingle v. Norge
Div. of Magic Chef, Inc., 486 U.S. 399, 413 n.12, 108
S.Ct. 1877, 100 L.Ed.2d 410 (1988)).
if dispute resolution pursuant to a collective-bargaining
agreement, on one hand, and state law, on the other, would
require addressing precisely the same set of facts, as long
as the state-law claim can be resolved without interpreting
the agreement itself, the claim is ‘independent' of
the agreement for § 301 preemption purposes.”
Lingle, 486 U.S. at 409-10. Accordingly, preemption
under section 301 requires a two-step analysis. Alaska
Airlines Inc. v. Schurke, 898 F.3d 904, 920-22 (9th Cir.
2018) (en banc); Burnside v. Kiewit Pac. Corp., 491
F.3d 1053, 1059-60 (9th Cir. 2007). First, the Court must
determine “whether the asserted cause of action
involves a right conferred upon an employee by virtue of
state law, not by a CBA.” Burnside, 491 F.3d
at 1059. “If a claim arises entirely from a right or
duty of the CBA-for example, a claim for violation of the
labor agreement, whether sounding in contract or in tort-it
is, in effect, a CBA dispute in state law garb, and is
preempted. In such cases, the CBA is the ‘only
source' of the right the plaintiff seeks to
vindicate.” Alaska Airlines, 898 F.3d at 921
(footnote, citations, and internal quotation marks omitted).
“[C]laims are not simply CBA disputes by another name,
and so are not preempted under this first step, if they just
refer to a CBA-defined right; rely in part on a CBA's
terms of employment; run parallel to a CBA violation; or
invite use of the CBA as a defense.” Id.
right asserted by the plaintiff is conferred by state law,
the Court proceeds to the second step, in which it must
determine whether the plaintiff's claim is nevertheless
“substantially dependent on analysis of a collective
bargaining agreement.” Burnside, 491 F.3d at
1059 (quoting Caterpillar, 482 U.S. at 394). If the
claim requires the court to “interpret, ” rather
than merely “look to, ” the collective bargaining
agreement, then the claim is substantially dependent thereon
and is preempted by section 301. Id. at 1060.
“The plaintiff's claim is the touchstone for this
analysis; the need to interpret the collective bargaining
agreement must inhere in the nature of the plaintiff's
claim.” Detabali v. St. Luke's Hosp., 482
F.3d 1199, 1203 (9th Cir. 2007) (alteration omitted) (quoting
Cramer v. Consol. Freightways, Inc., 255 F.3d 683,
691 (9th Cir. 2001) (en banc))). “[It is not] enough
that resolving the state law claim requires a court to refer
to the CBA and apply its plain or undisputed language-for
example, to discern that none of its terms is reasonably in
dispute; to identify bargained-for wage rates in computing a
penalty; or to determine whether the CBA contains a clear and
unmistakable waiver of state law rights.” Alaska
Airlines, 898 F.3d at 921-22 (alterations, citations,
and internal quotation marks omitted).
asserts a single claim for failure to timely pay wages in
violation of ...