CALIFORNIA CLASS ACTION LAW

Tag: Title 28 of the United States Code

Central District Remands Class Action for Defendant’s Failure to Prove Amount in Controversy Under CAFA

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The Central District remanded a putative minimum wage and overtime class action suit in Munoz v. Central Parking Sys., Inc., No. CV 10-6172 PA (RCx), 2010 WL 3432239 (C.D. Cal. Aug. 30, 2010) (unpublished).

Plaintiff’s Complaint attempted to avoid removal, stating “[i]t is believed that the total sum owed to the Class alleged herein is less than $5 million, based upon the anticipated size of the Class and the amount in controversy for each member of the Class.”  Id. *1. Read the rest of this entry »

Toyota Hybrid Brake Litigation Transferred to Central District of California by MDL Panel

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The United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation transferred the Toyota hybrid brake litigation to the Central District of California.  In re Toyota Motor Corp. Hybrid Brake Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, — F.Supp.2d —-, 2010 WL 3270115 (U.S. Jud. Pan. Mult. Lit. Aug. 17, 2010).  The litigation consists of eight actions listed pending in the Central District of California, the Middle District of Alabama, the Eastern District of Kentucky, the District of Maryland, and the Northern District of Texas. Read the rest of this entry »

Transitions Lenses Antitrust Litigation Transferred to Middle District of Florida

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The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ordered, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, the Transitions Optical, Inc. actions transferred to the Middle District of Florida and assigned to the Honorable James D. Whittemore for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings.  In re Transitions Lenses Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 2173, — F.Supp.2d —-, 2010 WL 3153211 U.S. Jud. Pan. Mult. Lit. Aug. 6, 2010).

Writing for the Panel, Chairman John G. Heyburn II concluded that:

On the basis of the papers filed and hearing session held, we find that these actions involve common questions of fact, and that centralization under Section 1407 in the Middle District of Florida will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of this antitrust litigation. These actions share factual questions relating to alleged anticompetitive conduct in the photochromic lens industry. Centralization will eliminate duplicative discovery; prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings, including with respect to class certification; and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel, and the judiciary. Read the rest of this entry »

Morgan Stanley Wage and Hour Class Action Remanded to San Diego Superior Court for Failure to Show Diversity or Amount in Controversy

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Judge James Lorenz faced a remand motion in Martinez v. Morgan Stanley & Co., Inc., Civil No. 09cv2937-L(JMA), 2010 WL 3123175 (S.D. Cal. Aug. 9, 2010).  The court remanded, holding that Defendants did not meet their burden of showing that it is more likely than not that the matter in controversy for the class action exceeds $5 million or that Plaintiff’s individual claims exceed $75,000.

Defendants removed this wage and hour class action from state court based on 28 U.S.C. Sections 1332 and 1441, or in the alternative, on the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332(d) and 1453.  Plaintiff filed a motion to remand arguing that Defendants failed to establish the requisite diversity of citizenship and the jurisdictional amount in controversy. Read the rest of this entry »

Southern District of California Denies Remand in Wage & Hour Case Asserting CAFA Jurisdiction

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In Johnson v. U.S. Vision, Inc., No. 10-CV-0690 BEN (CAB), 2010 WL 3154847 (S.D. Cal. Aug. 9, 2010) the Southern District of California faced a remand motion in a wage and hour case that had been removed pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1441, 1453.

Judge Roger T. Benitez denied the motion to remand.  Defendant presented a calculation of damages, supporting its calcualtions with declaration from, among other people, the Assistant Controller, Operations, for U.S. Vision, Inc., responsible for enforcing Defendants’ payroll policies and procedures.  The declaration set forth Plaintiff’s most recent hourly rate of pay, as well as the specific number of optical managers and optechs employed during the Class Period, average hourly rates of pay for managers and optechs, number of employees who separated their employment with Defendants, and number of possible wage statements for each employee per year.

Plaintiff argued that Defendants miscalculated the amount in controversy because:

Defendants erroneously assumed “each class member was damaged to the same extent that Plaintiff Johnson was, and that every putative class member, among other things, worked off the clock and incurred a break violation every single day of the entire class period.” Mot. 6. Plaintiff emphasizes that Defendants have access to more specific figures to calculate the amount in controversy and that “each [class] member can be identified using information contained in Defendants’ payroll, scheduling and personnel records.” Compl. ¶ 39.

But the Court held that absent a “persuasive argument that Defendants are required to prove actual damages in order to remove this action, however, the Court must consider the amount put in controversy by the Complaint, not the ultimate or provable amount of damages.”  (citing Rippee v. Boston Market Corp., 408 F. Supp. 2d 982, 986 (S.D. Cal. 2005).)  The Court found that, having based their calculations on allegations provided in the Complaint, Defendants proved with a legal certainty that CAFA’s jurisdictional threshold is satisfied.

Despite Plaintiff’s attempt to provide supplemental information in the motion to remand, Defendants were entitled to, and did, use the factual allegations in the Complaint to calculate the amount in controversy. See Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 567 (9th Cir. 1992) (holding that defendant must use specific factual allegations or provisions in the complaint to support its argument of proper removal). The Court finds that Defendants provided detailed and competent evidence supporting their calculations and showing, to a legal certainty, that the jurisdictional threshold under CAFA is met. To the extent subsequent events show that jurisdiction would not be proper, the Court can address remand at that time. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).

By CHARLES H. JUNG