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Nunes v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 11, 2019

NIKI NUNES, individually and on behalf of all persons similarly situated, CHRIS SMITH, individually and on behalf of all persons similarly situated, MITZI WALLACE, individually and on behalf of all persons similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
HOME DEPOT U.S.A., INC., a Delaware corporation; and DOES 1 through 50, Inclusive, Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO REMAND

          JOHN A MENDEZ, UNITED STATES DBTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiffs sued Home Depot U.S.A., Inc. (“Home Depot” or “Defendant”) in San Joaquin County Superior Court for alleged violations of the California Labor Code. Compl., ECF No. 1-2. Home Depot removed the case to federal court. Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1. Plaintiffs now move to remand the case to state court. Mot., ECF No. 4.

         For the reasons set forth below, this Court DENIES Plaintiffs' motion.[1]

         I. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs Niki Nunes, Chris Smith, and Mitzi Wallace (collectively “Plaintiffs”) are hourly-paid, non-exempt Warehouse Associate employees for Home Depot at its Tracy Distribution Center. Compl. ¶¶ 3-5. Plaintiffs are citizens of California. Mello Decl., ECF No. 1-5. Home Depot is Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Atlanta, Georgia. Id.

         On May 24, 2019, Plaintiffs filed the Complaint in San Joaquin County Superior Court (Case No. STK-CV-UOE-2019-6656), bringing six causes of action against Home Depot for purported violations of the California Labor Code for its failure to pay minimum wages, pay overtime wages, provide meal breaks, provide rest breaks, timely pay final wages due, and provide accurate itemized wage statements. See Compl. Plaintiffs also assert a claim under California's unfair competition law. Id. Plaintiffs bring these claims on behalf of a putative class of all current and former non-exempt Warehouse Associates employed by Home Depot at the Tracy Distribution Center at any time during the four years (for the unfair competition law claim) or three years (for the California Labor Code claims) prior to filing of the Complaint. Compl. ¶¶ 30, 39.

         Home Depot timely removed the case to federal court, asserting federal jurisdiction under CAFA. Notice of Removal; 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2). Plaintiffs timely moved to remand the case to San Joaquin County Superior Court. Mot. Home Depot opposes the motion. Opp'n, ECF No. 5.

         II. OPINION

         A. Judicial Notice

         Home Depot asks this Court to take judicial notice of the complaint in Ramirez v. Carefusion Resources, LLC, No. 3:18-cv-02852-BEN-KSC (S.D. Cal.). RJN, ECF No. 5-2. Plaintiffs do not oppose this request. And since judicial notice of the existence of court records is routinely accepted, the request for judicial notice is granted as to the existence of the complaint but not as to the truth of its contents.

         B. CAFA Jurisdiction

         CAFA gives federal district courts original jurisdiction in any civil action where: (1) the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million, exclusive of interest and costs; (2) the number of putative class members is not less than 100 persons; and (3) any member of a class of plaintiffs is a citizen of a State different from any defendant. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d). Plaintiffs do not contest the minimal diversity or class size requirements, and this Court finds those requirements satisfied.

         C. Disputed Amount in Controversy

         In the Notice of Removal, Home Depot includes allegations and calculations as to the amount in controversy and concludes, “[i]n sum, by conservative estimates, . . . the total monetary relief placed in controversy by the complaint exceeds $7 million.” Notice of Removal ¶¶ 13-23 (relying on Declaration of G. Edward Anderson, Ph.D., ECF No. 1-6). Plaintiffs dispute this estimate and argue, as ...


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