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Soto v. Tech Packaging, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

December 3, 2019

Gustavo Soto
v.
Tech Packaging, Inc. et al.

          Present Honorable MICHAEL W. FITZGERALD, U.S. District Judge Deputy Clerk: Court Reporter:

          CIVIL MINUTES-GENERAL

         Proceedings (In Chambers): ORDER RE: MOTION TO REMAND [7]

         Before the Court is Plaintiff Gustavo Soto's Motion to Remand (the “Motion”) filed on October 16, 2019. (Docket No. 7). Defendant Tech Packaging, Inc. filed an Opposition on October 28, 2019. (Docket No. 8). Plaintiff did not file a Reply.

         The Motion was noticed to be heard on November 18, 2019. The Court read and considered the papers on the Motion and deemed the matter appropriate for decision without oral argument. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 78(b); Local Rule 7-15. The hearing was therefore VACATED and removed from the Court's calendar.

         For the reasons discussed below, the Motion is DENIED. Defendant plausibly establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds $5, 000, 000 under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (“CAFA”), 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d).

         I. BACKGROUND

         On August 9, 2019, Plaintiff commenced this putative class action in the San Bernardino County Superior Court. (Complaint (“Compl.”) (Docket No. 1-4)).

         The Complaint contains the following allegations:

Plaintiff, a California resident, worked for Defendant as a non-exempt, hourly employee from September 2017 to July 2018. (Compl. ¶¶ 5, 18). Defendant is a corporation that is incorporated under the laws of Florida and maintains its headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida. (See Declaration of Allison Boever (“Boever Decl.”) ¶ 3 (Docket No. 1-2)).

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant “engaged in a pattern and practice of wage abuse against [its] hourly-paid or non-exempt employees within the State of California, ” (Compl. ¶ 25), by failing to provide Plaintiff and the putative class with (1) minimum wages for all regular hours worked (id. ¶ 78); (2) compensation for all overtime hours worked (id. ¶ 53); (3) meal periods of at least thirty minutes for each five hour work period (id. ¶¶ 61, 62); (4) compensation for missed meal periods (id. ¶ 28); (5) rest periods of at least ten minutes for each four hour work period (id. ¶ 71); As(6) compensation for missed rest breaks (id. ¶ 19); (7) all wages owed upon employees' discharge or resignation (id. ¶ 84); (8) complete and accurate wage statements (id. ¶ 96); and (9) reimbursement for business-related expenses (id. ¶ 35).

         Defendant is also alleged to have failed to maintain accurate and complete payroll records showing the hours worked and the wages paid to Plaintiff and the putative class under California law. (Id. ¶ 103).

         Based on the above allegations, Plaintiff asserts ten wage-and-hour-related claims against Defendant: (1) unpaid overtime wages; (2) unpaid meal period premiums; (3) unpaid rest period premiums; (4) unpaid minimum wages; (5) final wages not timely paid; (6) wages not timely paid during employment; (7) non-compliant wage statements; (8) failure to keep requisite payroll records; (9) unreimbursed business expenses; and (10) violation of California's Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17200, et seq. (Id. ¶¶ 47-117).

         In his complaint, Plaintiff proposes the following class:

All current and former hourly-paid or non-exempt employees who worked for any of the Defendants within the State of California at any time during the period from four years preceding the filing of this Complaint to final judgement and who reside in California.

(Id. ¶ 13) On September 16, 2019, Defendant removed the action, invoking federal jurisdiction pursuant to CAFA. (See Notice of Removal (“NoR”) ¶ 7 (Docket No. 1)).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Under CAFA, the Court has “original jurisdiction of any civil action in which the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $5, 000, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is a class action in which” there is minimal diversity. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d).

         “Congress designed the terms of CAFA specifically to permit a defendant to remove certain class or mass actions into federal court . . . [and] intended CAFA to be interpreted expansively.” Ibarra v. Manheim Invs., Inc., 775 F.3d 1193, 1197 (9th Cir. 2015). In a notice of removal, a defendant need only plausibly allege that these prerequisites are met. Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co. v. Owens, 135 S.Ct. 547, 553 (2014). Once confronted with a motion to remand, however, the removing defendant bears the burden of establishing jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence. Id. at 553-54; Ibarra, 775 F.3d at 1197-98.

         As relevant here, where a plaintiff moves to remand based upon the amount in controversy, both “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 1199-1200. “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. A removing defendant bears the burden of convincing the district court that the $5 million CAFA threshold is met, and the defendant's “assumptions cannot be pulled out of thin air but need some reasonable ground underlying them.” Id. at 1199.

         III. ...


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