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Olson v. Becton, Dickinson and Co.

United States District Court, S.D. California

September 25, 2019

PHIL OLSON, individually, and on behalf of other members of the general public similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
BECTON, DICKINSON AND COMPANY, a New Jersey corporation, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO REMAND [DOC. NO. 8]

          HON. MICHAEL M. ANELLO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Phil Olson (“Plaintiff”) filed this putative class action against Defendant Becton, Dickinson, and Company (“Defendant”) in the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego. See Doc. No. 1, Ex. A (hereinafter “Compl.”). On May 8, 2019, Defendant removed the action to this Court pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”), 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d). See Doc. No. 1. On June 7, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion to remand this action back to state court. See Doc. No. 8. Defendant filed an opposition, to which Plaintiff replied. See Doc. Nos. 9, 10. The Court found the matter suitable for determination on the papers and without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1.d.1. See Doc. No. 11. For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES Plaintiff’s motion to remand.

         Background

         Plaintiff, a California resident, previously worked for Defendant as a non-exempt employee in California from December 2016 to September 2017. See Compl. ¶¶ 16-17. Defendant is a New Jersey corporation, with its principal place of business in New Jersey. See Doc. No. 1, ¶ 12.

         On April 5, 2019, Plaintiff filed this putative class action in San Diego Superior Court on behalf of himself and all other similarly situated California employees, alleging the following eight claims for relief: (1) failure to pay overtime wages, in violation of Cal. Lab. Code §§ 510, 1198; (2) failure to provide meal periods, in violation of Cal. Lab. Code §§ 226.7, 512(a); (3) failure to provide rest periods, in violation of Cal. Lab. Code § 226.7; (4) failure to pay minimum wages, in violation of Cal. Lab. Code §§ 1194, 1197; (5) failure to timely pay wages, in violation of Cal. Lab. Code §§ 201, 202; (6) failure to provide complete and accurate wage statements, in violation of Cal. Lab. Code § 226(a); (7) failure to reimburse necessary business-related expenses and costs, in violation of Cal. Lab. Code §§ 2800, 2802; and (8) unfair and unlawful business practices, in violation of Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 et seq. See Compl. Plaintiff defines the proposed class as “[a]ll current and former California-based . . . hourly-paid or non-exempt individuals employed . . . by Defendants within the State of California at any time during the period from four years preceding the filing of this Complaint to final judgment.” Id. ¶ 12.

         Legal Standard

         “As a general matter, defendants may remove to the appropriate federal district court ‘any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction.’ 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). The propriety of removal thus depends on whether the case originally could have been filed in federal court.” City of Chicago v. Int’l Coll. of Surgeons, 522 U.S. 156, 163 (1997). The “propriety of removal” in this case arises under “CAFA[, which] gives federal courts jurisdiction over certain class actions, defined in § 1332(d)(1), if the class has more than 100 members, the parties are minimally diverse, and the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million.” Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co., LLC v. Owens, 574 U.S. 81, 84-85 (2014).

         A notice of removal must contain a “short and plain statement of the grounds for removal.” 28 U.S.C. § 1446(a). There is no presumption against removal jurisdiction in CAFA cases. See Dart, 574 U.S. at 89 (noting “CAFA’s provisions should be read broadly, with a strong preference that interstate class actions should be heard in a federal court if properly removed by any defendant”) (internal quotations omitted). The burden of establishing removal jurisdiction under CAFA lies with the proponent of federal jurisdiction. See Ibarra v. Manheim Invs., Inc., 775 F.3d 1193, 1199 (9th Cir. 2015).

         “[W]hen a defendant seeks federal-court adjudication, the defendant’s amount-in-controversy allegation should be accepted when not contested by the plaintiff or questioned by the court.” Dart, 574 U.S. at 87. “Evidence establishing the amount is required” where, as here, the plaintiff challenges the defendant’s amount in controversy assertion. Id. at 89. “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 88 (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1446(c)(2)(B)). “Under the preponderance of the evidence standard, a defendant must establish ‘that the potential damage could exceed the jurisdictional amount.’” Bryant v. NCR Corp., 284 F.Supp.3d 1147, 1149 (S.D. Cal. 2018) (quoting Rea v. Michaels Stores Inc., 742 F.3d 1234, 1239 (9th Cir. 2014)). “[I]n assessing the amount in controversy, a removing defendant is permitted to rely on ‘a chain of reasoning that includes assumptions.’” Arias v. Residence Inn by Marriott, No. 19-55803, 2019 WL 4148784, at *4 (9th Cir. Sept. 3, 2019) (publication forthcoming) (quoting Ibarra, 775 F.3d at 1199). “Such ‘assumptions cannot be pulled from thin air but need some reasonable ground underlying them.’ An assumption may be reasonable if it is founded on the allegations of the complaint.” Id.

         Discussion

         There is no dispute that the proposed class includes more than 100 employees or that the parties are minimally diverse. Thus, the sole issue before the Court is whether Defendant has shown, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million.

         1. Requests for Judicial Notice

         As an initial matter, Defendant requests that the Court take judicial notice of the complaint and the plaintiff’s reply brief in support of a motion to remand filed in a similar action, Baretich v. Everett Fin., Inc., No. 18cv1327-MMA (BGS) (S.D. Cal.). See Doc. No. 9-6. Because the Court need not rely on these documents in reaching its conclusion below, the Court DENIES AS MOOT Defendant’s request for judicial notice.

         Additionally, Plaintiff requests that the Court take judicial notice of the Undersigned’s decision on the motion to remand in Baretich. See Doc. No. 10-1. Plaintiff’s request is misguided because the Court need not take judicial notice of its previous decisions and “a request for judicial notice is not a proper vehicle for legal argument.” Garcia v. California Supreme Court, No. CV 12-4504-DWM, 2014 WL 309000, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 21, 2014); see also McVey v. McVey, 26 F.Supp.3d 980, 984 (C.D. Cal. 2014); Ghalehtak v. FNBN I, ...


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