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Feltzs v. Cox Communications Cal., LLC

United States District Court, C.D. California

January 13, 2020

Christone Feltzs
Cox Communications Cal., LLC et al

          Present: The James V. Selna, U.S. District Court Judge


         Honorable Proceedings: [IN CHAMBERS] Order Regarding Motion for Remand

         The Court, having been informed by the parties in this action that they submit on the Court's tentative ruling previously issued, hereby rules in accordance with the tentative ruling as follows:

         Plaintiff Christone Feltzs (“Feltzs”) moved to remand this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1447(c). Mot., Dkt. No. 10. Defendants Cox Communications Cal., LLC and Cox Communications, Inc. (“Cox”) opposed. Opp'n, Dkt. No. 13. Feltzs replied. Reply, Dkt. No. 14.

         For the following reasons, the Court DENIES the motion.

         I. Background

         On July 26, 2019, Feltzs filed a Complaint against Cox in Orange County Superior Court, asserting class claims for relief arising out of Feltzs' employment. Complaint, Dkt. No. 1-1. The class claims alleged (1) failure to pay wages as a result of “illegal rounding;” (2) failure to provide meal periods; (3) failure to pay all wages due at separation; (4) failure to provide accurate wage statements; and (5) unfair competition. Id. ¶¶ 47-93.

         On October 16, 2019, before Cox responded to the Complaint, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint to add additional derivative penalty claims under the California Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”). FAC, Dkt. No. 1-1, Ex. C. Feltzs asserted his class claims on behalf of “[a]ll current and former California hourly non-exempt employees of Defendants for the period of July 25, 2015 through the date of class certification who provided installation and maintenance services for Defendants as a Universal Home Technician In-training, Universal Home Technician (“UHT”), Field Service Technician, Field Service Representative.” Id. ¶ 41. The FAC also alleges three sub-classes. Id.

         In the FAC, Feltzs alleges that Cox rounded all UHTs' time entries in a way that systematically led to shorting employees for their time worked, which resulted in the UHTs being under compensated for their wages. Id. ¶¶ 30-33, 57. Further, he alleges that Cox “consistently” failed to provide second meal periods to UHTs who worked more than 10 hours per day and failed to obtain proper waivers that would allow the UHTs to waive their right to a second meal period. Id. 34, 67, 69. Third, he asserts that, derivative of the first two claims, UHTs' wage statements were inaccurate in violation of Labor Code section 226(a). Id. ¶ 35. Fourth, he alleges that every UHT whose employment terminated since July 26, 2016 is entitled to waiting time penalties as a result of the rounding and second meal period violations. Id. ¶ 36. Fifth, he recasts the aforementioned Labor Code violations as unfair competition under the Unfair Competition Law, which can be used to extend the statute of limitations on certain Labor Code claims. Id. ¶¶ 83-87. Finally, Feltzs asserts his PAGA claim to obtain civil penalties for the alleged Labor Code violations. Id. ¶ 103.

         On October 21, 2019, Cox filed its Notice of Removal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1441(a), and 1446. Not., Docket No. 1. Cox stated that Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”) jurisdiction exists because there is minimal diversity between the parties, there are 520 putative class members, and the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million based on timekeeping and payroll records, wage statements, and attorneys' fees. Id. ¶¶ 19-20.

         II. Legal Standard

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), a defendant may remove a civil action from state court to federal court so long as original jurisdiction would lie in the court to which the action is removed. City of Chicago v. Int'l Coll. of Surgeons, 522 U.S. 156, 163 (1997). According to the Ninth Circuit, courts should generally “strictly construe the removal statute against removal jurisdiction.” Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). This “‘strong presumption' against removal jurisdiction means that the defendant always has the burden of establishing that removal is proper.” Id. (quoting Nishimoto v. Federman-Bachrach & Assocs., 903 F.2d 709, 712 n.3 (9th Cir. 1990)).

         However, “no antiremoval presumption attends cases invoking CAFA, which Congress enacted to facilitate adjudication of certain class actions in federal court.” Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co., LLC v. Owens, 135 S.Ct. 547, 554 (2014). CAFA provides district courts with original jurisdiction over any class action in which (1) the amount in controversy exceeds $5, 000, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, (2) any plaintiff class member is a citizen of a state different from any defendant, (3) the primary defendants are not states, state officials, or other government entities against whom the district court may be foreclosed from ordering relief, and (4) the number of plaintiffs in the class is at least 100. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332(d)(2), (d)(5).

         III. ...

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