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Trevino v. Golden State FC LLC

United States District Court, E.D. California

December 11, 2019

JUAN TREVINO, ROMEO PALMA, JUAN C. AVALOS, ALBERTO GIANINI, CHRISTOPHER WARD, and LINDA QUINTEROS, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
GOLDEN STATE FC, LLC, a Delaware Limited Liability Company, AMAZON.COM INC., a Delaware Corporation, and AMAZON FULFILLMENT SERVICES, INC., a Delaware Corporation, Defendants.

         Trevino Member Case Nos.: 1. 1:18-cv-00121-DAD-BAM (Palma), 2. 1:18-cv-00567-DAD-BAM (Avalos), 3. 1:18-cv-01176-DAD-BAM (Hagman), 4. 1:17-cv-01300-DAD-BAM (Ward)

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO TRANSFER VENUE (DOC. NO. 72)

         This matter is before the court on defendants Golden State FC, LLC, Amazon.com, Inc., and Amazon Fulfillment Services, Inc.'s (collectively, “Amazon”) motion to transfer this consolidated action to the United States District Court for the Central District of California. (Doc. No. 72.) The court deemed the motion suitable for decision without oral argument pursuant to Local Rule 230(g). (Doc. No. 79.) Having considered the parties' briefs, and for the reasons stated below, the court will deny Amazon's motion to transfer.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         This consolidated action consists of five separately filed class actions which were initially filed in state courts located within the boundaries of the United States District Court for either the Eastern or Central Districts of California and thereafter removed to those federal courts. Three of the five cases (Trevino, Ward, and Palma) were filed within the Eastern District of California, and the remaining two (Avalos and Hagman[1]) were originally filed within the Central District of California. (Doc. No. 72 at 9-10.) Each of these actions was filed as a class action and each asserted similar wage and hour violations against Amazon. (Id.)

         On January 8, 2018, plaintiff Juan Trevino filed a notice of related cases, seeking to relate Trevino, Ward, and Palma. (Doc. No. 10.) On January 24, 2018, the undersigned issued an order relating the Trevino, Ward, and Palma cases. (Doc. No. 11.)

         On April 23, 2018, the parties in Avalos filed a stipulation seeking to transfer that case to this district and, on August 29, 2018, the parties in Hagman filed a stipulation seeking to transfer that case to this district. (Doc. No. 72 at 10-11.) Both stipulations were adopted by court order and the Avalos and Hagman actions were thereafter assigned to this court. (Id. at 11.)

         On February 25, 2019, the parties in each of the five aforementioned actions stipulated to consolidating those actions. (Doc. No. 53.) That stipulation was adopted by court order and Trevino was designated as the lead case. (Doc. No. 54.) On March 28, 2019, plaintiffs filed a first amended consolidated class action complaint. (Doc. No. 65.) Therein, they allege the following wage and hour violations: (1) failure to pay wages for all hours worked, including overtime; (2) meal period violations; (3) rest period violations; (4) wage statement violations; (5) failure to pay waiting time wages; and (6) violations of California Business and Professions Code. (See id.)

         On April 23, 2019, the parties participated in a joint scheduling conference before Magistrate Judge Barbara A. McAuliffe. (Doc. No. 68.) During this scheduling conference, “Magistrate Judge McAuliffe informed the parties that the Chief Judge of the Eastern District would be retiring[2] at the end of 2019, leaving [the undersigned] as the only remaining district court judge in the Fresno [Courthouse].” (Doc. No. 72 at 11.)

         On June 6, 2019, twenty-seven named plaintiffs filed a separate wage and hour class action in Orange County Superior Court against Amazon.com Services, Inc. and, on July 5, 2019, that action was removed to the Central District of California (the “Sherman action”). (Doc. No. 72 at 11-12); see also Sherman et al v. Amazon.com Services, Inc., 8:19-cv-01329-JVS-SHK, (C.D. Cal. July 5, 2019).

         On July 5, 2019, Amazon filed the pending motion to transfer. (Doc. No. 72.) Therein, Amazon seeks to transfer this consolidated action back to the Central District of California. First, Amazon argues that the original purpose of transferring the Avalos and Hagman actions to this district has been frustrated by “[t]he impending retirement of the Chief Judge, ” which “was unknown and unforeseen at the time the parties stipulated to transfer[ring] and consolidat[ing] all related cases in the Eastern District.” (Id. at 12.) Second, it contends that transfer is warranted because the Sherman class action asserts claims that overlap with those asserted in this consolidated class action. (Id. at 16.) Finally, Amazon argues that this action meets all the requirements for transfer under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) and that the parties will not be prejudiced by the transfer. (Id. at 17-22.) On August 6, 2019, plaintiffs filed their opposition to the pending motion and, on August 13, 2019, Amazon filed its reply thereto. (Doc. No. 77, 81.)

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), “a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought” for the convenience of parties and witnesses and in the interest of justice. “[T]he purpose of [§ 1404(a)] is to prevent the waste of time, energy and money and to protect litigants, witnesses and the public against unnecessary inconvenience and expense.” Van Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S. 612, 616 (1964) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). “Section 1404(a) is intended to place discretion in the district court to adjudicate motions for transfer according to an ‘individualized, case-by-case consideration of convenience and fairness.'” Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29 (1988) (quoting Van Dusen, 376 U.S. at 622).

         District courts employ a two-step analysis when determining whether to transfer an action. Robert Bosch Healthcare Sys., Inc. v. Cardiocom, LLC, No. C-14-1575 EMC, 2014 WL 2702894, at *3 (N.D. Cal. June 13, 2014). “A court must first consider the threshold question of whether the case could have been brought in the forum to which the moving party seeks to transfer the case.” Park v. Dole Fresh Vegetables, Inc., 964 F.Supp.2d 1088, 1093 (N.D. Cal. 2013); see also Hatch v. Reliance Ins. Co., 758 F.2d 409, 414 (9th Cir. 1985) (“In determining whether an action ‘might have been brought' in a district, the court looks to whether the action initially could have been commenced in that district.”) “Once the party seeking transfer has made this showing, district courts have discretion to consider motions to change venue based on an ‘individualized, case-by-case consideration of convenience and fairness.'” Park, 964 F.Supp.2d at 1093 (quoting Stewart Org., 487 U.S. at 29). The burden is on the moving party to show that transfer is appropriate. Commodity Futures Trading Comm 'n v. Savage, 611 F.2d 270, 279 (9th Cir. 1979.)

         “A motion to transfer venue under § 1404(a) requires the court to weigh multiple factors in its determination whether transfer is appropriate in a particular case.” Jones v. GNC Franchising, Inc.,211 F.3d 495, 498 (9th Cir. 2000). These factors include: “(1) the location where the relevant agreements were negotiated and executed, (2) the state that is most familiar with the governing law, (3) the plaintiffs choice of forum, (4) the respective parties' contacts with the forum, (5) the contacts relating to the plaintiffs cause of action in the chosen forum, (6) the differences in the costs of litigation in the two forums, (7) the availability of compulsory process to compel attendance of unwilling non-party witnesses, and (8) the ease of access to sources of proof.” Id. at 489-99. Moreover, while “§ 1404(a) transfers are different than dismissals on the ground of forum non conveniens, ” Piper Aircraft Co. v. Reyno, 454 U.S. 235, 253 (1981), the Ninth Circuit has found that “forum non conveniens considerations are helpful in deciding a § 1404 transfer motion, ” Decker Coal Co. v. Commonwealth Edison Co., 805 F.2d 834, 843 (9th Cir. 1986), superseded by statute on other grounds by 28 U.S.C. § 1391. Accordingly, a district court can consider private and public factors affecting the convenience of the forum. Id. The private factors include “the ‘relative ease of access to sources of proof; availability of compulsory process for attendance of unwilling, and the cost of obtaining attendance of willing, witnesses; possibility of view of premises, if view would be appropriate to the action; and all other practical problems that make trial of a case easy, expeditious and inexpensive.'” Id. (quoting Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501, 508 (1947)). The public factors include “the administrative difficulties flowing ...


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