Silva v. Medic Ambulance Service, Inc.

Filing 11

ORDER signed by District Judge Troy L. Nunley on 10/10/17 ORDERING that Plaintiff's MOTION to REMAND 6 is DENIED. The parties shall file a Joint Status Report within thirty (30) days of this order. (Mena-Sanchez, L)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 MEGHAN SILVA, et al., 12 13 14 No. 2:17-cv-00876-TLN-CKD Plaintiffs, ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO REMAND v. MEDIC AMBULANCE SERVICE, INC., 15 Defendant. 16 17 This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Meghan Silva’s (“Plaintiff”) Motion to 18 Remand. (ECF No. 6.) Defendant Medic Ambulance Service, Inc. (“Defendant”) opposes the 19 motion. (ECF No. 7.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court hereby DENIES Plaintiff’s 20 Motion to Remand. (ECF No. 6.) 21 I. 22 On March 2, 2017, Plaintiff filed a class action in the Superior Court of California, 23 County of Solano. (Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1 at 13–25.) Plaintiff was previously employed 24 by Defendant in Solano County as an Emergency Medical Technician from June 2013 to June 25 2014. (ECF No. 1 at 14.) 26 FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND The complaint alleges Defendant violated: (1) California Labor Code § 226.7 and 27 Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Order No. 4 by failing to provide its employees with 28 adequate rest breaks; (2) California Labor Code § 226 by failing to provide regular accurate 1 1 itemized wage statements; and (3) California Labor Code §§ 201-203 by failing to pay rest break 2 compensation to Plaintiff and class members who were not given rest breaks. (ECF No. 1 at 7, 9– 3 10.) Plaintiff also alleges Defendant violated California Business and Professions Code §§ 4 17200, et seq. (the California Unfair Competition Law) by violating the aforementioned Labor 5 Code sections, which gave it “an unfair competitive advantage over law-abiding employers and 6 competitors.” (ECF No. 1 at 10–11.) 7 On April 25, 2016, Defendant filed a Notice of Removal in the United States District 8 Court for the Eastern District of California. (ECF No. 1.) In the Notice of Removal, Defendant 9 asserts “one or more of Plaintiff’s claims is completely preempted by” Section 301 of the Labor 10 Management Relations Act (“LMRA”). (ECF No. 1 at 3.) Defendant argues the character of 11 Plaintiff’s complaint is “predicated on rights negotiated, bargained for, and agreed to by 12 [Defendant] and the Union” that resulted in the ratification of the collective bargaining agreement 13 (“CBA”). (ECF No. 1 at 4.) Plaintiff moved to remand the action on June 29, 2017. (ECF No. 14 6.) 15 II. STANDARD OF LAW 16 28 U.S.C. § 1441 permits the removal to federal court of any civil action over which “the 17 district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). “Removal is 18 proper only if the court could have exercised jurisdiction over the action had it originally been 19 filed in federal court.” Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987). 20 Courts “strictly construe the removal statute against removal jurisdiction,” and “the 21 defendant always has the burden of establishing that removal is proper.” Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 22 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (per curiam). Furthermore, “[i]f the district court at any time 23 determines that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the removed action, it must remedy the 24 improvident grant of removal by remanding the action to state court.” California ex rel. Lockyer 25 v. Dynegy, Inc., 375 F.3d 831, 838, as amended, 387 F.3d 966 (9th Cir. 2004), cert. denied 544 26 U.S. 974 (2005). 27 28 The “presence or absence of federal question jurisdiction is governed by the ‘well-pleaded complaint rule,’ which provides that federal jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is 2 1 presented on the face of the plaintiff’s properly pleaded complaint.” Caterpillar, 482 U.S. at 386. 2 Removal cannot be based on a defense, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third party claim raising a 3 federal question, whether filed in state court or federal court. See Vaden v. Discover Bank, 556 4 U.S. 49 (2009); Hunter v. Philip Morris USA, 582 F.3d 1039, 1042–43 (9th Cir. 2009). 5 A corollary to the “well-pleaded complaint rule” is the “complete preemption” doctrine. 6 Metropolitan Life Ins. Co. v. Taylor, 481 U.S. 58, 63–64 (1987). Under this doctrine, the 7 preemptive force of a federal statute may be strong enough to convert state law claims into 8 federal claims. Id. Complete preemption recognizes the importance of creating a single body of 9 federal law for areas that would likely “be affected by separate systems of substantive law.” See 10 11 Teamsters v. Lucas Flour Co., 369 U.S. 95, 104 (1962). The Supreme Court has held that the complete preemption doctrine applies to Section 301 12 of the LMRA. Id. If a claim derived from a CBA is preempted, it is said to be one arising under 13 “the laws of the United States” within the meaning of the removal statute and within the “original 14 jurisdiction” of the district courts. Avco Corp. v. Aero Lodge No. 735, Intern. Ass’n of Machinists 15 and Aerospace Workers, 390 U.S. 557, 560 (1968). State law does not provide for an 16 independent source of private rights to enforce CBAs. Id. at 560–561. 17 The Supreme Court has insisted that Section 301 does not preempt “every dispute 18 concerning employment, or tangentially involving a provision of a collective bargaining 19 agreement.” Allis-Chalmers Corp. v. Lueck, 471 U.S. 202, 211 (1985). The Ninth Circuit has 20 provided that a state law claim is not preempted “unless it necessarily requires the court to 21 interpret an existing provision of a CBA.” Cramer v. Consol Freightways, 225 F.3d 683, 691 22 (9th Cir. 2001) (en banc) (as amended) (emphasis added). Merely “[looking] to” the CBA does 23 not mean that a state law claim will be defeated by Section 301. Livadas v. Bradshaw, 512 U.S. 24 107, 124–125 (1994). The Ninth Circuit has also stated that “interpret” is defined narrowly, and 25 “means something more than ‘consider,’ ‘refer to,’ or ‘apply.’” Balcorta v. Twentieth Century- 26 Fox Film Corp., 208 F.3d 1102, 1108 (9th Cir. 2000). 27 28 Federal law preempts state law claims based directly on rights created by CBAs and claims that are substantially dependent on analysis of the agreement. Lingle v. Norge Div. of 3 1 Magic Chef, Inc., 486 U.S. 399, 405–406 (1988). To determine whether a claim meets the 2 “substantially dependent” standard, courts will look at whether evaluation of the claim is 3 “inextricably intertwined” with consideration of labor contract terms. See Allis-Chalmers Corp., 4 471 U.S. at 213. Courts will also look at whether the state law claim derives or is implied from 5 the contract rights established under the CBA. Id. at 220. 6 III. ANALYSIS 7 Plaintiff argues that Defendant incorrectly based its removal to federal court on the idea 8 that the state law claims are fully preempted by Section 301 because Plaintiff and the potential 9 class members work subject to a CBA. (ECF No. 6-1 at 1.) Plaintiff asserts that her claims do 10 not require an interpretation of the CBA, but involve Defendant’s violation of California labor 11 laws. (ECF No. 6-1 at 1.) Defendant argues that Plaintiff’s claims will require judicial 12 interpretation of the CBA. (ECF No. 1 at 5–6.) This Court agrees. 13 Section 301 preempts state law claims where a provision of a CBA needs to be interpreted 14 to resolve the claim. Cramer, 225 F.3d at 691. Interpretation is required when claims are 15 “inextricably intertwined” with the CBA terms, or derived or implied from rights under the CBA. 16 Allis-Chalmers Corp., 486 U.S. at 213, 220. Plaintiff brings claims in her complaint that involve 17 provisions of the CBA between her Union and Defendant. In order to resolve Plaintiff’s claims, 18 the Court will need to not merely “look at” the CBA, but it will need to interpret its provisions. 19 Plaintiff’s state law claims asserting Defendant’s failure to provide adequate rest breaks, regular 20 accurate itemized wage statements, and rest break compensation are all “inextricably intertwined” 21 with various CBA terms because the rights are derived from the CBA itself. 22 For example, Plaintiff alleges in her first claim that Defendant failed to provide her and 23 class members with adequate rest breaks. (ECF No. 1 at 19.) Defendant cites to pages 14 and 15 24 of the CBA that covers the section on paid breaks. (ECF No. 1 at 5.) This section states that 25 “employees on a rest period may be interrupted for all calls or requests for service. If the 26 Employer fails to provide an employee a rest period… the Employer shall pay the employee one 27 (1) hour of pay… for each workday that a rest period is not provided.” (ECF No. 1-1 at 14.) 28 Defendant also cites to pages 1, 2, 4, 5, 13, 29, and 33 of the CBA that covers, among other 4 1 things, shifts, scheduling, employees’ duties, the scope and nature of the work, wages, hours of 2 work, meal periods, arbitration, etc. (ECF No. 1-1 at 5–9.) Resolution of Plaintiff’s first claim 3 will substantially depend on an analysis of these provisions in the CBA, such as whether or not 4 interrupting for calls or requests constitutes failure to provide rest periods. Defendant has established its burden of showing that Section 301 preempts Plaintiff’s 5 6 state law claims and thus, federal question jurisdiction exists. Accordingly, this Court has subject 7 matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s claims and Plaintiff is not entitled to remand this action to state 8 court. 9 10 11 12 13 IV. CONCLUSION For the foregoing reasons, the Court hereby DENIES Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand. (ECF No. 6.) The parties shall file a Joint Status Report within thirty (30) days of this Order. IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: October 10, 2017 14 15 Troy L. Nunley United States District Judge 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 5

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