United States District Court, C.D. California
Norma Lopez, et al.
First Student, Inc., et al.
PRESENT: THE HONORABLE JESUS G. BERNAL, UNITED STATES
Order DENYING Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand (Dkt. No.
the Court is Plaintiffs Norma Lopez, Cindy Mitchell, and Vada
Neice's (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) motion
to remand the case to San Bernardino County Superior Court.
(“Motion, ” Dkt. No. 8.) After considering papers
filed in support of and in opposition to the Motion and the
arguments presented by counsel at the hearing, the Court
DENIES the Motion.
case commenced on July 11, 2019, when Plaintiffs Lopez,
Mitchell, and Neice filed a class action complaint against
Defendants First Student, Inc., First Student Management,
LLC, and FirstGroup America, Inc. (“Defendants”
or “First Student”) in San Bernardino County
Superior Court. (“Complaint, ” Dkt. No. 1-1.)
Plaintiffs allege three causes of action: (1) failure to pay
split shift wages under California Labor Code §§
1197, 1994, 1194.2 and Wage Order 9-2001; (2) failure to
provide adequate wage statements under California Labor Code
§ 226; and (3) unlawful business practices under
California Business & Professions Code § 17200,
et seq. (Id.) On August 30, 2019,
Defendants removed the matter. (“Notice of
Removal” or “NOR, ” Dkt. No. 1.)
October 21, 2019, Plaintiffs moved to remand. (“Motion,
” Dkt. No. 8.) In support of the Motion, Plaintiffs
filed declarations from Hunter Pyle (“Pyle Declaration,
” Dkt. No. 8-1), Lopez (“Lopez Declaration,
” Dkt. No. 8-2), Mitchell (“Mitchell Declaration,
” Dkt. No. 8-3), and Neice (“Neice Declaration,
” Dkt. No. 8-4). On October 28, 2019, Defendants
opposed the Motion (“Opposition, ” Dkt. No. 9)
and made evidentiary objections to Plaintiffs'
Declarations (“Objections, ” Dkt. No.
9-1). On November 18, 2019, Plaintiffs replied.
(“Reply, ” Dkt. No. 12.)
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, possessing only
that power authorized by the Constitution and statute.”
Gunn v. Minton, 133 S.Ct. 1059, 1064 (2013). The
Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”) vests federal
courts with original jurisdiction over class actions
involving at least 100 class members, minimal diversity, and
an amount in controversy (“AIC”) that exceeds $5,
000, 000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d).
courts must “strictly construe the removal statute
against removal jurisdiction.” Gaus v. Miles,
Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). “However,
‘no anti-removal presumption attends cases invoking
CAFA…'” Garcia v. Wal-Mart Stores,
Inc., 2016 WL 6068104, at *3 (C.D. Cal. Oct. 14, 2016)
(quoting Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co., LLC v.
Owens, 135 S.Ct. 547, 553 (2014)). Instead, Congress
intended CAFA to be interpreted expansively. Ibarra v.
Manheim Investments, Inc., 775 F.3d 1193, 1197 (9th Cir.
defendant seeking removal of an action to federal district
court need only offer a “short and plain statement of
the grounds for removal” in its notice of removal. 28
U.S.C § 1446(a). To meet CAFA's diversity
requirement, a removing defendant must show “any member
of a class of plaintiffs is a citizen of a State different
from any defendant.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2)(A).
“Thus, under CAFA complete diversity is not required;
‘minimal diversity' suffices.” Serrano v.
180 Connect, Inc., 478 F.3d 1018, 1021 (9th Cir. 2007)
satisfy CAFA's amount-in-controversy requirement,
“a removing defendant must plausibly assert that the
amount in controversy exceeds $5, 000, 000.”
Garcia, 2016 WL 6068104, at *3 (citing
Ibarra, 775 F.3d at 1197). A removing
“defendant's amount-in-controversy allegation
should be accepted when not contested by the plaintiff or
questioned by the court.” Dart Cherokee, 135
S.Ct. at 553. Where a plaintiff questions the AIC asserted,
further evidence establishing that the amount alleged meets
the jurisdictional minimum is required. Id. at 554.
“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.”
parties may submit evidence outside the complaint, including
affidavits or declarations, or other
‘summary-judgment-type evidence relevant to the amount
in controversy at the time of removal.'”
Ibarra, 775 F.3d at 1197 (quoting Singer v.
State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 116 F.3d 373, 377 (9th
Cir. 1997)). “Under this system, CAFA's
requirements are to be tested by consideration of real
evidence and the reality of what is at stake in the
litigation, using reasonable assumptions underlying the
defendant's theory of damages exposure.”
Id. at 1198.