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Lopez v. Adesa, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

September 6, 2019

Xochitl Lopez
v.
Adesa, Inc., et al.

          Present: The Honorable Philip S. Gutierrez, United States District Judge.

          CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

         Proceedings (In Chambers): The Court DENIES Plaintiff's motion to remand

         Before the Court is a motion to remand filed by Plaintiff Xochitl Lopez (“Plaintiff”). See Dkt. # 9 (“Mot.”). Defendant Adesa, Inc. (“Defendant”) opposes the motion, see Dkt. # 12 (“Opp.”), and Plaintiff timely replied, see Dkt. # 13 (“Reply”). The Court finds the matter appropriate for decision without oral argument. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; L.R. 7-15. Having considered the arguments in the moving, opposing, and reply papers, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's motion.

         I. Background

         On May 9, 2019, Plaintiff filed this wage and hour putative class action in Riverside County Superior Court. See Complaint, Dkt. # 1-1 (“Compl.”). In the complaint, Plaintiff asserts causes of action against Defendant for (1) failure to pay wages, id. ¶¶ 42-48; (2) failure to pay overtime wages, id. ¶¶ 49-53; (3) vacation pay forfeiture, id. ¶¶ 54-60; (4) failure to reimburse business expenses, id. ¶¶ 61-64; (5) failure to provide meal periods, id. ¶¶ 65-73; (6) failure to provide rest periods, id. ¶¶ 74-80; (7) failure to pay wages of terminated or resigned employees, id. ¶¶ 81-86; (8) failure to provide accurate itemized wage statements, id. ¶¶ 87-94; and (9) unfair competition, id. ¶¶ 95-103. On behalf of her proposed classes, Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages, economic damages, special damages, premium pay, wages, penalties, and attorneys' fees.[1]

         On June 26, 2019, Defendant removed the case to this Court. See Defendant's Notice of Removal, Dkt. # 1 (“NOR”). The Notice of Removal alleged federal jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (“CAFA”). Id. ¶ 1; see also 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d). To satisfy CAFA's jurisdictional requirements, Defendant asserted that the proposed class contains at least 100 members, NOR ¶ 15; that minimal diversity exists because Plaintiff is a citizen of California and Defendant is a citizen of Delaware and Indiana, id. ¶¶ 9-14; and that the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million, id. ¶¶ 16-22. As Plaintiff did not expressly plead a specific amount of damages in her complaint, Defendant calculated its own estimate of the potential damages based on Plaintiff's allegations. See generally NOR.

         Plaintiff now moves to remand, arguing that Defendant has failed to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million. See Mot. 6:14-17. Specifically, Plaintiff takes issue with some of the assumptions Defendant made in its calculations and argues that they are not adequately supported by evidence. See Id. 9:14-28, 13:6-18:17.[2]

         II. Legal Standard

         CAFA provides federal jurisdiction over class actions in which (1) the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million, (2) there is minimal diversity between the parties, and (3) the number of proposed class members is at least 100. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332(d)(2), (d)(5)(B). “Congress designed the terms of CAFA specifically to permit a defendant to remove certain class or mass actions into federal court . . . [and] intended CAFA to be interpreted expansively.” Ibarra v. Manheim Invs., Inc., 775 F.3d 1193, 1197 (9th Cir. 2015). While “no antiremoval presumption attends cases invoking CAFA, ” Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co., LLC v. Owens, 135 S.Ct. 547, 554 (2014), “the burden of establishing removal jurisdiction remains, as before, on the proponent of federal jurisdiction.” Abrego Abrego v. Dow Chem. Co., 443 F.3d 676, 685 (9th Cir. 2006).

         Under CAFA, a defendant removing a case must file a notice of removal containing a “short and plain statement of the grounds for removal.” Dart Cherokee, 135 S.Ct. at 553. Additionally, the Supreme Court has clarified that “a defendant's notice of removal need include only a plausible allegation that the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional threshold, ” unless the defendant's assertion is contested by the plaintiff. Id. at 554. Where, as here, a defendant's asserted amount in controversy is contested, “[e]vidence establishing the amount is required.” Id. “In such a case, both sides submit proof and the court decides, by a preponderance of the evidence, whether the amount-in-controversy requirement has been satisfied.” Id. at 550. Ultimately, the defendant bears the burden of proving that the amount in controversy is met. Rodriguez v. AT&T Mobility Servs. LLC, 728 F.3d 975, 978 (9th Cir. 2013).

         III. Discussion

         Plaintiff first argues that Defendant made “conclusory assertions” in its notice of removal regarding the amount in controversy and failed to offer evidence to support the asserted $5 million jurisdictional amount. See Mot. 9:14-20, 11:6-11. However, “a defendant's notice of removal need include only a plausible allegation that the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional threshold, ” and “[e]vidence establishing the amount is required by § 1446(c)(2)(B) only when the plaintiff contests, or the court questions, the defendant's allegation.” Dart Cherokee, 135 S.Ct. at 554 (emphasis added). Thus, evidentiary support is not required in the notice of removal. Here, the notice of removal expressly alleges that the “amount in controversy in this putative class action conservatively exceeds $5, 000, 000, exclusive of interests and costs.” NOR ¶ 18. The notice of removal discusses the claims alleged in the complaint and explains the components of Defendant's estimate of the amount in controversy. See Id. ¶¶ 18-19; Arias v. Residence Inn by Marriott, No. 19-55803, 2019 WL 4148784, at *4 (9th Cir. Sept. 3, 2019). The Court finds this sufficient to state a plausible claim for CAFA jurisdiction.

         However, as Plaintiff now contests the sufficiency of the amount in controversy, the Court must determine whether the jurisdictional requirement has been satisfied by a preponderance of the evidence. See Dart Cherokee, 135 S.Ct. at 554.

         A. Mea ...


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