United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND Re:
Dkt. No. 8 Case Re: Dkt. No. 9
Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr. United States District Judge.
Jose Franco filed these putative class and representative
actions in state court. Case No. 19-cv-1453-HSG, Dkt. No. 1,
Ex. A (“Mot.”); Case No. 19-cv-2854-HSG, Dkt. No.
1, Ex. A. Defendant removed the actions to federal
court based on federal preemption under § 301 of the
Labor Management Relations Act of 1974 (“LMRA”),
29 U.S.C. § 185. Dkt. No. 1; Case No. 19-cv-2854-HSG,
Dkt. No. 1. Plaintiff now seeks to remand the actions back to
state court. After carefully considering the parties'
arguments, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's
as otherwise expressly provided by Act of Congress, any civil
action brought in a State court of which the district courts
of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be
removed” to federal court. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a).
Federal district courts are courts of limited jurisdiction,
and “[n]o principle is more fundamental to the
judiciary's proper role in our system of government than
the constitutional limitation of federal-court jurisdiction
to actual cases or controversies.” DaimlerChrysler
Corp. v. Cuno, 547 U.S. 332, 341 (2006) (citation and
quotations omitted and alterations in original). Consistent
with this foundational principle, there is a
“‘strong presumption' against removal
jurisdiction.” Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d
564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (citation omitted).
district court lacks jurisdiction over an action, a plaintiff
may seek remand to state court. See 28 U.S.C. §
1447(c). “Federal jurisdiction must be rejected if
there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first
instance.” Gaus, 980 F.2d at 566. Accordingly,
“[t]he strong presumption against removal jurisdiction
means that the defendant always has the burden of
establishing that removal is proper . . . .” Hunter
v. Philip Morris USA, 582 F.3d 1039, 1042 (9th Cir.
context of diversity jurisdiction, the Supreme Court has held
that the defendant bears the burden of establishing
jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence. Dart
Cherokee Basin Operating Co., LLC v. Owens, 574 U.S. 81,
88 (2014); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1446. District
courts in this circuit have applied this standard in the
§ 301 preemption context. See, e.g.,
Huffman v. Pac. Gateway Concessions LLC, No.
19-CV-01791-PJH, 2019 WL 2563133, at *2 (N.D. Cal. June 21,
2019); Van Bebber v. Dignity Health, No.
119CV00264DADEPG, 2019 WL 4127204, at *8 (E.D. Cal. Aug. 30,
is a citizen of California and worked as a non-exempt hourly
employee for Defendant E-3 Systems from August 18, 2014 to
May 15, 2018. Dkt. No. 1, Ex. A (“Compl.”); Dkt.
No. 9-1, Ex. B, Declaration of Albert Gonzales
(“Gonzales Decl.”) ¶ 3. E-3 Systems is a
California corporation with its headquarters in Union City,
California. Compl. ¶ 5. On February 13, 2019, Plaintiff
filed this putative labor class action alleging claims under
the California Labor Code, including a claim for failure to
pay overtime under § 510. Compl. ¶¶ 34-75. The
putative class period is “any time within four (4)
years of the filing of this lawsuit.” Id.
Defendant removed the putative class action on March 20,
2019, Plaintiff filed another action in state court, Case No.
19-cv-2854-HSG. The complaint is based on the same set of
facts as those in his putative class action complaint,
although Plaintiff asserts that the complaint is a
representative and “PAGA-only” action. Case No.
19-cv-2854-HSG, Dkt. No. 1, Ex. A (“PAGA
Compl.”). That complaint only includes PAGA claims, but
the predicate California Labor Code violations for which
Plaintiff seeks penalties are the same as those in Case No.
19-cv-1453-HSG. See generally id. Defendant removed
that action on May 23, 2019. Case No. 19-cv-2854-HSG, Dkt.
Section 301 Preemption
§ 301 of the LMRA, “[s]uits for violation of
contracts between an employer and a labor organization
… may be brought in any district court of the United
States.” 29 U.S.C. § 185(a). As recently
reaffirmed by the Ninth Circuit, the Supreme Court has
interpreted the LMRA to authorize federal courts “to
create a uniform body of federal common law to adjudicate
disputes that arise out of labor contracts.” Curtis
v. Irwin Indus., Inc., 913 F.3d 1146, 1155 (9th Cir.
2019) (citations omitted). “A state rule that purports
to define the meaning or scope of a term in a contract suit
therefore is pre-empted by federal labor law.”
Id. at 1152 (quoting Allis-Chalmers Corp. v.
Lueck, 471 U.S. 202, 210 (1985)). Although federal
preemption is a defense that does not generally authorize
removal to federal court, the Supreme Court has held that
§ 301 has such “extraordinary pre-emptive
power” that it “converts an ordinary state common
law complaint into one stating a federal claim for purposes
of the well-pleaded complaint rule.” Metro. Life
Ins. v. Taylor, 481 U.S. 58, 65 (1987).
§ 301 “cannot be read broadly to pre-empt
nonnegotiable rights conferred on individual employees as a
matter of state law.” Curtis, 913 F.3d at 1152
(quoting Livadas v. Bradshaw, 512 U.S. 107, 123
(1994)). Further, “not every dispute concerning
employment, or tangentially involving a provision of a
collective-bargaining agreement, is preempted by § 301
or other provisions of federal labor law.” McCray
v. Marriott Hotel Servs., Inc., 902 F.3d 1005, 1009 (9th
Cir. 2018) (quoting Lueck, 471 U.S. at 211). Claims
which have no relationship to a collective-bargaining
agreement “beyond the fact that they are asserted by an
individual covered by such an agreement are simply not
pre-empted by § 301.” Id. (citation and
Ninth Circuit has employed a two-step test to ensure that
§ 301 preemption “extends only as far as necessary
to protect the role of labor arbitration in resolving CBA
disputes.” Curtis, 913 F.3d at 1153 (citation
and quotations omitted). First, the court asks whether the
asserted cause of action involves a “right [that]
exists solely as a result of the CBA.” Burnside v.
Kiewit Pac. Corp., 491 F.3d 1053, 1059 (9th Cir. 2007).
“If the right exists solely as a result of the CBA,
then the claim is preempted, and our analysis ends
there.” Id. (citing Lueck, 471 U.S.
at 210). If not, the court proceeds to the second step and
asks “‘whether a plaintiff's state law right
is substantially dependent on analysis of [the CBA],'
which turns on whether the claim cannot be resolved by simply
‘look[ing] to' versus ‘interpreting' the
CBA.” Curtis, 913 F.3d at 1153 (citations and
quotations omitted and alterations in original).
Interpretation is construed narrowly in this context.
Id. If claims are dependent on interpretation of the
CBA, then the claim is preempted by § 301; if not, the
claim may proceed under state law. Burnside, 491
F.3d at 1059- 60.
Step 1: Whether Plaintiff's Overtime Right Exists ...