United States District Court, C.D. California
R.A. a minor, by and through his guardian, Steve Altes, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
AMAZON.COM, INC. and A2Z DEVELOPMENT CENTER, INC., Defendants.
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND [Dkt.
J. CARNEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
11, 2019, Plaintiff R.A. brought this putative class action
against Amazon.com, Inc. (“Amazon”), and A2z
Development Center, Inc. (“A2z Development”) in
Los Angeles County Superior Court alleging violations of the
California Invasion of Privacy Act (“CIPA”), Cal.
Penal Code § 632. (Dkt. 1-1 [Complaint, hereinafter
“Compl.”].) Defendants removed the action on July
25, 2019. (Dkt. 1 [Notice of Removal].) Before the Court is
Plaintiff's motion to remand the case to Los Angeles
County Superior Court. (Dkt. 37 [hereinafter
“Mot.”].) For the following reasons, that motion
allegations in Plaintiff's complaint concern Amazon's
smart speaker technology, Alexa. Alexa is “the
world's leading voice-responsive personal assistant
technology.” (Compl. ¶ 7.) As of January 2019,
over 100 million devices containing Alexa had been sold.
(Id. ¶ 9.) The Alexa technology allows users to
access online information verbally without using their phones
or computers. The technology becomes operational after a user
downloads the Alexa application and pairs it with a device
such as an Amazon Echo or a Sonos speaker. (Id.
¶ 12.) Once this pairing occurs, the Alexa technology is
triggered whenever an individual says a “wake word,
” like “Alexa.” (Id. ¶ 15.)
Typically, after saying this wake word, Alexa users make some
sort of inquiry or request, such as “Alexa, what is the
weather today?” (Id. ¶ 11.)
Alexa detects that a wake word has been used, it allegedly
records the subsequent communication and sends the recording
to Amazon's servers. (Id. ¶ 15.)
Transmitting the recording to the servers is what allows
Alexa to respond to the user accurately. (Id. ¶
16.) The recordings are then allegedly stored on Amazon's
servers for later use and analysis. (Id. ¶ 17.)
This practice of recording and storing users'
communications with Alexa allegedly helps Amazon amass huge
swaths of consumer data, which it can use in other areas of
its business. (Id. ¶¶ 22-24.)
to the complaint, Amazon fails to obtain consent to these
recording practices from a substantial number of Alexa users.
The only people who allegedly consent are the registered
users who initially set up the Alexa-enabled device and
install the Alexa application. (Id. at 3.) However,
Alexa is not programmed to only respond to this consenting
person's voice. (Id.) Instead, every time Alexa
detects that a wake word has been used, it records and stores
the subsequent communication regardless of who the speaker
is. (Id. ¶ 14.) Because devices paired with
Alexa are typically stored inside homes and used by all of
their occupants, Alexa allegedly ends up recording and
storing the communications of many people who have not
consented to this practice, including minors. (Id.
R.A. is allegedly one of these nonconsenting minors. His
father, a registered user, purchased two Echo Dot smart
speakers in November 2018 and paired them with Alexa.
(Id. ¶¶ 32-33.) R.A. is not a registered
user, so he never consented to Amazon's recording
practices. (Id. ¶ 35.) However, because he uses
the Alexa-enabled device a few times per week, his
communications are recorded and stored without his consent,
in alleged violation of CIPA. (Id. ¶¶
brings this CIPA claim on behalf of a proposed class of
“all citizens of the State of California who used a
household Amazon Alexa device while they were minors, but who
have not downloaded and installed the Alexa app.”
(Id. ¶ 40.) The complaint names both Amazon and
A2z Development as Defendants. Amazon is a Delaware
corporation with its principal place of business in Seattle,
Washington. (Id. ¶ 2.) A2z is a subsidiary of
Amazon and has its principal place of business in Sunnyvale,
California. (Id. ¶ 3.) Defendants removed the
action to federal court on July 25, 2019, invoking
jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005
(“CAFA”). Plaintiff subsequently moved to remand
the action to Superior Court, asserting that the action fits
within CAFA's “local controversy” exception.
(Mot. at 3.)
action brought in state court may be removed by the defendant
to a federal district court if the action could have been
brought there originally. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). The party
seeking removal bears the initial burden of establishing
federal jurisdiction. Durham v. Lockheed Martin
Corp., 445 F.3d 1247, 1252 (9th Cir. 2006). Under CAFA,
federal courts have original jurisdiction over a class action
if (1) the parties are minimally diverse, (2) the proposed
class has more than 100 members, and (3) the aggregated
amount in controversy exceeds $5 million. 28 U.S.C. §
1332(d)(2). “Congress passed CAFA with the
‘overall intent . . . to strongly favor the exercise of
federal diversity jurisdiction over class actions with
interstate ramifications.'” Brinkley v.
Monterey Fin. Servs., Inc., 873 F.3d 1118, 1121 (9th
Cir. 2017) (quoting S. Rep. No. 109-14, at 35 (2005)).
are several exceptions to federal jurisdiction under CAFA,
however. A district court must decline to exercise
jurisdiction over a class action if the requirements of the
“local controversy” exception are met. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332(d)(4). The local controversy exception applies to
a class action in which:
(I) greater than two-thirds of the members of all proposed
plaintiff classes in the aggregate are citizens of the State
in which ...