United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division
HASIM A. MOHAMMED, Plaintiff,
AMERICAN AIRLINES, INC., Defendant.
ORDER ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND
RE: DKT. NO. 16
J. DAVILA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Hasim A. Mohammed (“Plaintiff”) initiated this
putative class action in state court, alleging violations of
California Labor Code sections governing meal and rest
breaks, recordkeeping and timeliness of wage payments, and
violation of California's Unfair Competition Law
(“UCL”). Compl., Dkt. No. 1-1. Defendant American
Airlines, Inc. (“Defendant”) removed the action
to this Court on the basis of 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d), as
amended by the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005
(“CAFA”). Notice of Removal, Dkt. No. 1.
Plaintiff now moves to remand the action, asserting that
Defendant has failed to establish the requisite amount in
controversy. The Court finds it appropriate to take the
motion under submission for decision without oral argument
pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b). For the reasons set
forth below, Plaintiff's motion will be granted.
February 19, 2019, Plaintiff initiated this suit in Santa
Clara County Superior Court against Defendant and unnamed Doe
defendants. Plaintiff resides in California. Compl. ¶ 5.
Defendant is a Delaware corporation doing business in
California. Id. ¶ 6. The “Relevant Time
Period” is defined as beginning four years prior to the
filing of the action until judgment is entered. Id.
¶ 11. The Complaint defines an “Hourly Employee
Class” of “[a]ll persons employed by Defendants
and/or any staffing agencies and/or any other third parties
in hourly or non-exempt positions in California during the
Relevant Time Period.” Id. There are also four
sub-classes: (1) a Meal Period Sub-Class of “[a]ll
Hourly Employee Class members who worked in a shift in excess
of five hours during the Relevant Time Period”; (2) a
Rest Period Sub-Class of “[a]ll Hourly Employee Class
members who worked a shift of at least three and one-half
(3.5) hours during the Relevant Time Period”; (3) a
Wage Statement Penalties Sub-Class of “[a]ll Hourly
Employee Class members employed by Defendants in California
during the period beginning one year before the filing of
this action and ending when final judgment is entered”;
and (4) a Waiting Time Penalties Sub-Class of “[a]ll
Hourly Employee Class members who separated from their
employment with Defendants during the period beginning three
years before the filing of this action and ending when final
judgment is entered.” Id. There is also a UCL
Class defined as “All Hourly Employee Class members
employed by Defendants in California during the Relevant Time
worked for Defendant as a non-exempt hourly employee from
approximately January 17, 2000 through February 28, 2018.
Id. ¶ 19. “On many occasions, ”
Plaintiff and the putative class members were not provided
meal periods due to (1) Defendant's policy of not
scheduling each meal period as part of each work shift; (2)
chronically understaffing each work shift; (3) imposing so
much work that it made it “unlikely” that an
employee would be able to take breaks; and (4) no formal
written meal period policy that encouraged employees to take
meal and rest periods. Id. ¶ 20. Plaintiff and
putative class members were provided meal periods when they
were not otherwise occupied with job duties; however, they
were required to interrupt their meal periods and to perform
job duties when a plane arrived. Id. ¶ 21.
Plaintiff and the putative class were neither instructed nor
required to clock out for meal periods “as Defendant
had a policy of automatically deducting one hour from their
hours worked.” Id. ¶ 22. In other words,
Defendant scheduled Plaintiff and the putative class members
to work nine hours but deducted an hour for purported meal
periods in order to avoid having to pay class members
overtime. Id. Defendant seldom, if ever, provided
Plaintiff and the putative class with a one-hour
uninterrupted, duty-free meal period. Id. “As
a result of Defendant['s] policy, Plaintiff and the
putative class were regularly not provided with uninterrupted
meal periods.” Id. ¶ 23.
Plaintiff and the putative class “were regularly not
provided” with rest periods of at least ten minutes for
each four-hour work period for the same reasons they were not
provided meal periods. Id. ¶ 26. Plaintiff and
the putative class were provided rest periods only to the
extent they were not occupied with their jobs. Id.
¶ 25. Plaintiff and the putative class worked through
their rest periods in order to complete their assignments on
time. Id. ¶ 26.
and the putative class were not provided with accurate wage
statements as mandated by California Labor Code section 226.
Id. ¶ 27. The statements that were provided
were inaccurate because they failed to include overtime, as
well as meal and/or rest period premiums. Id.
on the foregoing, Plaintiff asserts six causes of action: (1)
failure to provide meal periods (Labor Code §§ 204,
223, 226.7, 512 and 1198); (2) failure to provide rest
periods (Labor Code §§ 204, 223, 226.7 and 1198);
(3) failure to pay hourly and overtime wages (Labor Code
§§ 223, 510, 1194, 1194.2, 1197, 1197.1 and 1198);
(4) failure to provide accurate written wage statements
(Labor Code §226(a)); (5) failure to pay timely final
wages (Labor Code §§ 201, 202 and 203); and (6)
violation of the UCL by engaging in unlawful business
may remove a case to a federal court when a case originally
filed in state court presents a federal question or is
between citizens of different states. See 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1441(a)-(b), 1446, 1453. Only state court
actions that originally could have been filed in federal
court may be removed. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a);
Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392
(1987). CAFA gives district courts original jurisdiction to
hear class actions: (i) involving a plaintiff class of 100 or
more members, (ii) where at least one member of the plaintiff
class is a citizen of a State different from any defendant,
and (iii) in which the matter in controversy exceeds (in the
aggregate) the sum or value of $5 million, exclusive of
interest and costs. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d). When measuring
the matter in controversy, “the claims of the
individual class members shall be aggregated.”
Standard Fire Ins. Co. v. Knowles, 568 U.S. 588, 592
(2013) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(6)) . “[T]hose
‘class members' include ‘persons (named or
unnamed) who fall within the definition of the
proposed or certified class.'”
Id. (quoting § 1332(d)(1)(D) (emphasis added)).
action that meets the CAFA standards may be removed to
federal court. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). “Unlike the
general presumption against removal, ‘no antiremoval
presumption attends cases invoking CAFA.'” Dart
Cherokee Basin Operating Co., LLC v. Owens, 574 U.S. 81,
89 (2014). “A defendant seeking removal has the burden
to establish that removal is proper and any doubt is resolved
against removability.” Luther v. Countrywide Home
Loans Servicing LP, 533 F.3d 1031, 1033-34 (9th Cir.
2008); Abrego Abrego v. Dow Chemical Co., 443 F.3d
676, 684 (9th Cir. 2006) (“We therefore hold that under
CAFA the burden of establishing removal jurisdiction remains,
as before, on the proponent of federal jurisdiction.”).
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. “[A]
defendant's notice of removal need include only a
plausible allegation that the amount in controversy exceeds
the jurisdictional threshold.” Id. at 89. If
the plaintiff contests the defendant's allegation,
evidence establishing the amount in controversy is required.
Ibarra v. Manheim Invests., Inc., 775 F.3d 1193,
1197 (9th Cir. 2015). “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 1197 (quoting
Dart, 574 U.S. at 88 (citing 28 U.S.C. §
1446(c)(2)(B))); see also Rodriguez v. AT&T Mobility
Servs. LLC, 728 F.3d 975, 981 (9th Cir. 2013) (“A
defendant seeking removal of a putative class action must
demonstrate, by a preponderance of evidence, that the
aggregate amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional
minimum.”). Under the preponderance of the evidence
standard, a removing defendant must show “that the
potential damages could exceed the jurisdictional
amount.” Rea v. Michaels Stores Inc., 742 F.3d
1234, 1239 (9th Cir. 204) (quoting Lewis v. Verizon
Commc'ns, Inc., 627 F.3d 395, 397 (9th Cir. 2010)).
parties may submit evidence such as affidavits, declarations,
or other “summary-judgment type evidence relevant to
the amount in controversy at the time of removal.”
Id. (quoting Singer v. State Farm Mut. Auto.
Ins. Co., 116 F.3d 373, 377 (9th Cir. 1997)). The
defendant, however, need not prove to a “legal
certainty” that the amount in controversy requirement
has been met. Dart, 574 U.S. at 88-89 (citing H.R.
Rep. No. 112-10, p. 16 (2011)). The preponderance standard
requires only that a removing defendant prove that it is
“more likely than not” that the amount in
controversy requirement is met. Guglielmino v. McKee
Foods Corp., 506 F.3d 696, 698 (9th Cir. 2007).
“Under this system, CAFA's requirements are to be