United States District Court, C.D. California
Present: The Honorable Philip S. Gutierrez, United States
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
(In Chambers): Order GRANTING the motions to remand.
the Court are Renita Romero, Mary Rafferty, Lynn Fontana,
Leah Miller, James Fernandez, and Elizabeth Shepherd's
(“the nurses”) motions to remand. See
No. EDCV 19-1588, Dkt. # 9 (“Romero
Mot.”); No. EDCV 19-1592, Dkt. # 12
(“Rafferty Mot.”); No. EDCV 19-1593,
Dkt. # 9 (“Miller Mot.”); No. EDCV
19-1590, Dkt. # 9 (“Fontana Mot.”); No.
EDCV 19-1595, Dkt. # 9 (“Fernandez
Mot.”); No. EDCV 19-1602, Dkt. # 9
(“Shepherd Mot.”). Defendant
Desert Regional Medical Center (“DRMC”) opposes.
See No. EDCV 19-1588, Dkt. # 11 (“Romero
Opp.”); No. EDCV 19-1592, Dkt. # 21
(“Rafferty Opp.”); No. EDCV 19-1593,
Dkt. # 11 (“Miller Opp.”); No. EDCV
19-1590, Dkt. # 12 (“Fontana Opp.”); No.
EDCV 19-1595, Dkt. # 15 (“Fernandez
Opp.”); No. EDCV 19-1602, Dkt. # 16
(“Shepherd Opp.”). The nurses have also
filed replies. See No. EDCV 19-1588, Dkt. # 12
(“Romero Reply”); No. EDCV 19-1592, Dkt.
# 22 (“Rafferty Reply”); No. EDCV
19-1593, Dkt. # 12 (“Miller Reply”); No.
EDCV 19-1590, Dkt. # 13 (“Fontana
Reply”); No. EDCV 19-1595, Dkt. # 16
(“Fernandez Reply”); No. EDCV 19-1602,
Dkt. # 17 (“Shepherd Reply”). Because
the moving papers are identical, the Court addresses the six
motions together in this order. The Court finds the matters
appropriate for decision without oral argument. See
Fed. R. Civ. P. 78(b); L.R. 7-15. Having considered the
moving papers, the Court GRANTS the motions
case involves wage and hour claims under California
See Romero Mot. 4:16-18. The nurses worked in the
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at DRMC. See Romero
Opp. 8:9-11. They were employed pursuant to a collective
bargaining agreement. See Id. In July 2016, the
nurses filed separate wage claims with the California Labor
Commissioner seeking meal and rest period premiums, as well
as waiting time penalties. See Romero Mot. 4:16-18.
In February and March of 2019, they attended individual
administrative hearings and received awards of lost wages.
See Id. 4:20-23. DRMC then filed a de novo appeal of
the administrative award in August 2019 in Riverside Superior
Court. See Id. 4:23-27.
DRMC filed this action in state court, it then removed the
action to this Court, asserting federal question jurisdiction
under the Labor Management Relations Act
(“LMRA”). See generally No. EDCV
19-1588, Dkt. #1 (“Romero NOR”). The
nurses now move to remand. See generally Romero Mot.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, possessing only
that power authorized by Constitution and statute.”
Gunn v. Minton, 568 U.S. 251, 256 (2013) (internal
quotation marks omitted). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441, a
defendant may remove a civil action from state court to
federal district court only if the federal court has subject
matter jurisdiction over the case. See City of Chi. v.
Int'l Coll. of Surgeons, 522 U.S. 156, 163 (1997)
(“The propriety of removal thus depends on whether the
case originally could have been filed in federal
court.”). The case shall be remanded to state court if
at any time before final judgment it appears a removing court
lacks subject matter jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1447(c); Int'l Primate Prot. League v.
Adm'rs of Tulane Educ. Fund, 500 U.S. 72, 87 (1991).
Courts strictly construe the removal statute against removal
jurisdiction. See Provincial Gov't of Marinduque v.
Placer Dome, Inc., 582 F.3d 1083, 1087 (9th Cir. 2009);
Luther v. Countrywide Home Loans Servicing, LP, 533
F.3d 1031, 1034 (9th Cir. 2008). “A defendant seeking
removal has the burden to establish that removal is proper
and any doubt is resolved against removability.”
Luther, 533 F.3d at 1034; see also Moore-Thomas
v. Alaska Airlines, Inc., 553 F.3d 1241, 1244 (9th Cir.
2009) (“[A]ny doubt about the right of removal requires
resolution in favor of remand.”).
nurses make two arguments as to why remand is proper. First,
they contend that DRMC, as the plaintiff in the state court
action, improperly removed the case to this Court. See
Romero Mot. 5-8. Second, they argue that the LMRA does
not preempt their claims, and thus federal question
jurisdiction does not exist. See Mot. 9-14. Because
the Court agrees with the nurses' first argument, it does
not address their second.
stated above, § 1441(a) provides that, “[e]xcept
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 by the defendant or the defendants, to the
district court of the United States for the district and
division embracing the place where such action is
pending.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) (emphasis added).
“The right to remove a state court case to federal
court is clearly limited to defendants.” Am.
Int'l Underwriters (Philippines), Inc. v. Continental
Ins. Co., 843 F.2d 1253, 1260 (9th Cir. 1988) (citing 28
U.S.C. § 1441).
case, DRMC filed a de novo review of the California Labor
Commissioner's awards in Riverside Superior Court.
See Romero NOR ¶ 3. This de novo review is a
“civil action” under federal law. See BNSF
Ry. Co. v. O'Dea, 572 F.3d 785, 790 (9th Cir. 2009).
According to DRMC, this Court has federal question
jurisdiction under the LMRA. See Romero NOR ¶
4; Romero Opp. 15-20. As master of its complaint,
DRMC must abide by its choice of forum. See Am. Int'l
Underwriters, 843 F.2d at 1261. Taking DRMC's claim
of federal jurisdiction as true, it forfeited its right to a
federal forum when it did not initially file its claim in
federal court. See Id. “Having elected state
court, [DRMC] should be bound by its choice absent compelling
reasons to seek relief in another forum.” See
Id. at 1259.
asserts that it is the defendant in this case, and thus can
remove, because it did not initiate the California Labor
Commission action against it. See Romero Opp.
11:9-18. The Court does not agree. The Court finds persuasive
the reasoning of other courts within this District that have
held “the plaintiff is the party who first invokes the
aid of a court.” See, e.g., Gaitan v. XPO
Cartage, Inc., No. CV 17-3913 SJO (ASx), 2017 WL
3136442, at *2 (C.D. Cal. July 24, 2017) (quoting
Oppenheimer & Co., Inc. v. Neidhardt, 56 F.3d
352, 356 (2d Cir. 1995)). Here, DRMC is the plaintiff under
§ 1441 because it “invoked the aid of a
court” when it filed this case in Riverside Superior
Court. See id.; Romero NOR ¶ 3. DRMC
chose where to “invoke the aid, ” and decided on
state court. See Oppenheimer, 56 F.3d at 365.
“[B]y [its] own affirmative and voluntary act, [DRMC]
chose the jurisdiction of the state court, ” and thus
cannot now avail itself of the removal statute. See
addition, the Court disagrees with DRMC that Cal. Lab. Code
§ 98.2 compelled it to initially file its appeal in
state court. See Romero Opp. 14:12-15:8. Under Cal.
Lab. Code § 98.2(a), “[w]ithin 10 days after
service of notice of an order, decision, or award the parties
may seek review by filing an appeal to the superior court,
where the appeal shall be heard de novo.” Cal. Lab.
Code § 98.2(a). Contrary to what DRMC suggests, the
statute's use of the word “may” indicates
that an appealing party need not exclusively file in state
court. See Romero Opp. 14:12-15:8. Moreover, this
argument fails because if § 98.2 compelled parties to
file in state court, it would supersede the federal removal
statute as well, preventing DRMC from removing this case. By
overriding the federal removal statute, this construction of
§ 98.2 would violate the Supremacy Clause. See
Hillsborough Cnty., Fla. v. Automated Med. Labs., Inc.471 U.S. 707, 713 (1985) (The Supremacy Clause
“invalidates state laws that interfere with, or are