United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO REMAND TO
STATE COURT (DOC. NO. 8)
A. HOUSTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Plaintiff Justin Haskins’
(“Plaintiff”) Motion to Remand to State Court
(“Motion”). See Doc. No. 8. Defendant
Wal-Mart Associates, Inc. (“Defendant”) filed a
response in opposition. See Doc. No. 10. The Motion
is fully briefed. After careful review of the pleadings
submitted by both parties, and for the reasons set forth
below, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff’s
case was removed to this Court on May 20, 2019. See
Doc. No. 1. On June 17, 2019, Plaintiff filed the Motion to
remand. See Doc. No. 8. Plaintiff’s class
action complaint alleges (1) failure to pay vested vacation
at time of termination in violation of Labor Code Section
227.3; (2) failure to pay unpaid wages at time of separation
in violation of Labor Code §§ 201 and 202; and (3)
violation of Business Professions Code §§ 17200
et seq. Id. Defendant filed its response in
opposition to the Motion on July 29, 2019. See Doc.
No. 10. Plaintiff filed a reply on August 1, 2019.
See Doc. No. 11.
federal court is one of limited jurisdiction. See Gould
v. Mutual Life Ins. Co. v. New York, 790 F.2d 769, 774
(9th Cir. 1986). As such, it cannot reach the merits of any
dispute until it confirms its own subject matter
jurisdiction. Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better
Environ., 118 S.Ct. 1003, 1012 (1998).
“Jurisdiction is power to declare the law, and when it
ceases to exist, the only function remaining to the court is
that of announcing the fact and dismissing the cause.”
Id. (quoting Ex parte McCardle, 74 U.S. (7
Wall.) 506, 614 (1868)). District courts must construe the
removal statutes strictly against removal and resolve any
uncertainty as to removability in favor of remanding the case
to state court. Boggs v. Lewis, 863 F.2d 662, 663
(9th Cir. 1988).
jurisdiction is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1441 et
seq. A state court action can only be removed if it
could have originally been brought in federal court.
Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392
(1987). Under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005
(“CAFA”), original federal jurisdiction is
established over class action lawsuits where (1) any member
of the proposed plaintiff class is a citizen of a state
different from any defendant; (2) the proposed class consists
of more than 100 members; and (3) the amount in controversy
exceed $5, 000, 000, aggregating claims and exclusive of
interest and costs. See 28 U.S.C. §§
1332(d)(2), 1332(d)(5)(B), and 1332(d)(6). The burden is on
the party invoking the federal removal statute to demonstrate
federal subject matter jurisdiction over the case and that
removal is proper, supporting its jurisdictional allegations
with competent proof. Emrich v. Touche Ross &
Co., 846 F.2d 1190, 1195 (9th Cir. 1988); Gaus v.
Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (per
curiam); Nishimoto v. Federman-Bachrach &
Assocs., 903 F.2d 709, 712 n.3 (9th Cir. 1990).
argues that Defendant provides no evidence or facts in
support of removal to this Court. Doc. No. 8-1 at pg. 2.
Plaintiff contends that Defendants fail to meet its burden of
showing that the amount in controversy exceeds $5, 000, 000.
Id. at pg. 3. Plaintiff asserts that the complaint
does not plead a specific amount or seek a specific amount of
damages, and Defendant has not made an attempt to satisfy its
burden of proof in showing the amount in controversy.
Id. at pgs. 3-4.
response, Defendant asserts that, as of April 30, 2019, there
were 1, 910 known putative class members from California.
Doc. No. 10 at pgs. 4-5. Defendant also asserts that the
state minimum wage on April 18, 2015 was $9.00 per hour,
$10.00 per hour on January 1, 2016, $10.50 on January 1,
2017, $11.00 on January 11, 2018, and $12.00 on January 1,
2019. Id. Defendant posits that the average of these
figures is $10.66 per hour. Id. Defendant contends
that applying a $10.66 per hour minimum wage, assuming an
eight-hour work day, to the 1, 910 person putative class,
would generate a total of $4, 866, 544. Id. at pgs.
5-6. Defendant argues that attorneys’ fees can be
included to determine whether the $5, 000, 000 CAFA threshold
is met, and assuming each putative class member had a total
of $59.40 in attorneys’ fees, the $5, 000, 000
requirement is easily satisfied. Id. at pg. 6.
reply, Plaintiff argues that Defendant improperly relied on
unreasonable assumptions to establish the amount in
controversy. Doc. No. 11 at pg. 5. Plaintiff asserts that
Defendant bears the burden of proof, and Defendant still has
not produced sufficient evidence to meet this burden.
Id. at pg. 6. Plaintiff contends that Defendant has
not presented any sort of calculation for attorneys’
fees. Id. at pgs. 8-10.
Court agrees with Plaintiff. The Court finds that Defendant
has not met its burden of establishing that a $5, 000, 000
amount in controversy exists. When trying to establish Labor
Code section 203 penalties, Defendant does not offer any
specifics as to which putative class members were employed
during what period of time. See Doc. No. 10 at pgs.
5-6. Defendant also does not specify which putative class
members were employed at what wage level or offer a
reasonable method of calculation in attempting to demonstrate
the amount in controversy. Id Instead, Defendant
uses an average state minimum wage of $10.66, derived from
wage figures from a four-year timespan, and assumes that each
putative class ...