Coy v. Southern Home Care Services, Inc., et al.,

Filing 18

ORDER signed by District Judge John A. Mendez on 4/23/21; REMANDING CASE to the Sacramento County Superior Court, but DENIES Plaintiff's request for fees and costs associated with the Motion. Certified copy of remand order sent to the state court. CASE CLOSED (Kastilahn, A)

Download PDF
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 8 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 9 10 ELIZABETH COY, on behalf of herself and Aggrieved Employees, 11 12 Plaintiff, 13 No. 2:21-cv-00067-JAM-CKD ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO REMAND v. 14 SOUTHERN HOME CARE SERVICES, INC., a Delaware corporation; et al., 15 16 Defendants. 17 Elizabeth Coy (“Plaintiff”) moves to remand this wage and 18 19 hour action back to the Sacramento County Superior Court. Mot. 20 to Remand (“Mot.”), ECF No. 4. 21 Inc., Res-care California, Inc., Res-care, Inc., and RSCR 22 California, Inc. (“Defendants”) filed an opposition, Opp’n, ECF 23 No. 6, to which Plaintiff replied, Reply, ECF No. 8. 24 reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff’s Motion to 25 Remand.1 Southern Home Care Services, For the 26 27 28 This motion was determined to be suitable for decision without oral argument. E.D. Cal. L.R. 230(g). The hearing was scheduled for March 9, 2021. 1 1 1 2 I. BACKGROUND Defendants provide 24-hour residential and home-based care 3 services to disabled and/or elderly individuals in California. 4 Compl. ¶ 18, Ex. A to Montoya Decl., ECF No. 1-1. 5 worked for Defendants as an on-call scheduler and care provider 6 from approximately August 2017 to March 16, 2020. 7 alleges she and other aggrieved employees were, among other 8 things, not properly paid reimbursement expenses, minimum and 9 overtime wages, and reporting time pay wages. Plaintiff Id. Plaintiff Id. ¶ 4. 10 Additionally, for the last portion of her employment with 11 Defendants, Plaintiff was a member of the Service Employees 12 International Union Local 2015 for Long-Term Caregivers in 13 California (“the Union”) and thus covered by the Collective 14 Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”) entered into between the Union and 15 Defendants. 16 Not. of Removal ¶ 8, ECF No. 1. On November 25, 2020, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit in the 17 Sacramento County Superior Court. 18 Plaintiff brings nine individual state law claims against 19 Defendants for: (1) failure to pay overtime wages, (2) failure to 20 pay minimum wages, (3) failure to provide meal periods, 21 (4) failure to provide rest periods, (5) failure to provide 22 accurate itemized statements, (6) waiting time penalties, 23 (7) failure to provide reimbursement expenses, (8) failure to 24 keep accurate time records, and (9) violation of California 25 Business and Professions Code § 17200 et seq. 26 Additionally, Plaintiff asserts a Private Attorney General Act 27 (“PAGA”) claim for failure to pay minimum wages, failure to pay 28 overtime wages, failure to pay reporting time pay wages, failure 2 See generally Compl. Id. ¶¶ 29-75. 1 to pay reimbursements for expenses, failure to pay final wages, 2 failure to maintain accurate records, failure to provide accurate 3 wage statements, and violation of the provisions regulating hours 4 and days of work. 5 Id. ¶¶ 76-80. On January 13, 2021, Defendants filed a Notice of Removal, 6 invoking this Court’s federal question jurisdiction. Not. of 7 Removal ¶ 5 (citing to 28 U.S.C. § 1331). 8 pled only state law claims, Defendants removed on the grounds 9 that Plaintiff’s claims are preempted by Section 301 of the Labor Although Plaintiff has 10 Management Relations Act (“LMRA”), 29 U.S.C. § 185. Id. ¶¶ 5-12. 11 In response, Plaintiff filed this Motion to Remand. See Mot. 12 Plaintiff additionally requests attorney’s fees and costs 13 associated with this Motion. 14 II. Mot. at 13. OPINION 15 A. Legal Standard 16 Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441, a defendant may remove a civil 17 action from state to federal court if there is subject matter 18 jurisdiction over the case. 19 of Surgeons, 522 U.S. 156, 163 (1997). 20 question jurisdiction over all civil actions “arising under the 21 Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” 22 § 1331. 23 removal and federal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any 24 doubt as to the right of removal. 25 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992); see also Moore-Thomas v. Alaska 26 Airlines, Inc., 553 F.3d 1241, 1244 (9th Cir. 2009) (“[A]ny doubt 27 about the right of removal requires resolution in favor of 28 remand.”) See City of Chicago v. Int’l Coll. Courts have federal 28 U.S.C. Courts strictly construe the removal statute against Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d The party seeking removal bears the burden of 3 1 establishing jurisdiction. Emrich v. Touche Ross & Co., 846 F.2d 2 1190, 1195 (9th Cir. 1988). 3 B. Analysis 4 Defendants removed this case on the grounds that Section 301 5 of the LMRA preempts Plaintiff’s claims. Not. of Removal at 6 ¶¶ 5, 10-12. 7 cannot be adjudicated without interpreting the CBA governing 8 Plaintiff’s and other aggrieved employees’ employment with 9 Defendants and therefore her claims are preempted. Specifically, Defendants contend that these claims Opp’n at 1. 10 Plaintiff does not dispute that there was a CBA in place for a 11 portion of her employment with Defendants, but argues the “mere 12 existence of, or consultation with” the CBA is insufficient to 13 establish preemption under Section 301 of the LMRA. 14 Mot. at 5. As the parties acknowledge, the Ninth Circuit’s Burnside 15 test governs their dispute. See Burnside v. Kiewett Pac. Corp., 16 491 F.3d 1053 (9th Cir. 2007). 17 set forth a two-part test for determining whether a cause of 18 action is preempted by Section 301 of the LMRA. 19 1060. 20 action involves a right conferred upon an employee by virtue of 21 state law,” independent of a CBA. 22 solely because of the CBA, then the claim is preempted, and the 23 analysis ends there. 24 solely because of the CBA, the court moves onto step two: 25 deciding whether the claim “substantially depends” on an 26 interpretation of a CBA. 27 the claim is preempted by Section 301; if not, then the claim can 28 proceed under state law.” In Burnside, the Ninth Circuit Id. at 1059- First, courts must determine if the “asserted cause of Id. Id. If the right exists If, however, the right does not exist Id. “If such dependence exists, then Id. 4 1 Here, the parties agree that Plaintiff’s claims are not 2 preempted under part one of Burnside. 3 The parties do dispute, however, whether the claims are preempted 4 under part two of Burnside. 5 Mot. at 6-7; Opp’n at 4. The analysis under the second part of Burnside – which as 6 stated above requires this Court to determine whether Plaintiff’s 7 claims are substantially dependent on interpretation of the CBA - 8 turns on “whether the claim can be resolved by ‘looking to’ 9 versus interpreting the CBA.” Kobold v. Good Samaritan Reg’l 10 Med. Ctr., 832 F.3d 1024, 1033 (9th Cir. 2016) (internal 11 citations omitted). 12 the former, it is not.” 13 context is “defined narrowly – it means something more than 14 ‘consider’, ‘refer to’, or ‘apply.’” 15 “If the latter, the claim is preempted; if Id. Additionally, “interpret” in this Id. Defendants argue that the CBA here must be interpreted, not 16 just consulted or referenced, to resolve Plaintiff’s claims and 17 insist they have provided several examples demonstrating how and 18 why the CBA must be interpreted. 19 Defendants stress that not only do Plaintiff’s individual claims 20 require interpretation of the CBA, but those asserted on behalf 21 of the alleged aggrieved employees “certainly do.” 22 According to Plaintiff, however, Defendants have not carried 23 their burden to show that interpretation of the CBA is required; 24 at most, she argues, Defendants have shown that the CBA 25 hypothetically may need to be consulted or referenced. 26 10-13; Reply at 1, 3-5. 27 Defendants have not carried their burden to show interpretation 28 of the CBA is necessary as required under part two of Burnside. Opp’n at 4-5. Further, Opp’n at 2. Mot. at The Court agrees and finds that 5 1 The Supreme Court has instructed that “not every dispute 2 concerning employment, or tangentially involving a provision of a 3 collective-bargaining agreement, is preempted by § 301.” 4 Chalmers Corp. v. Lueck, 471 U.S. 202, 211 (1985). 5 “alleging a hypothetical connection between the claim and the 6 terms of the CBA is not enough” to trigger preemption. 7 Consol. Freightways, Inc., 255 F.3d 683, 691 (9th Cir. 2001); see 8 also Humble v. Boeing Co., 305 F.3d 1004, 1010 (9th Cir. 2002) 9 (explaining “a CBA provision does not trigger preemption when it Allis- Therefore, Cramer v. 10 is only potentially relevant to the state law claims, without any 11 guarantee that interpretation or direct reliance on the CBA terms 12 will occur”). 13 Here, Article 13 of the CBA sets forth wage rates and 14 premium pay applicable to Plaintiff and other alleged aggrieved 15 employees. 16 the CBA as establishing “a complex pay structure for caregivers 17 based on various differentials including shift/visit length, the 18 number of clients for whom care is provided during a shift, the 19 specific behavioral/personal needs of the client receiving 20 services, and/or the length/difficulty of traveling to the 21 client.” 22 The CBA, according to Defendants, addresses compensation payable 23 to Plaintiff and alleged aggrieved employees “under very context- 24 specific and non-formulaic circumstances,” such that the CBA is 25 not “a straightforward or unambiguous chart with defined 26 variables the Court can simply reference to determine wages owed 27 to alleged aggrieved employees.” 28 Defendants argue, interpretation of the CBA is required to See generally CBA, Art. 13. Defendants characterize Opp’n at 3 (citing to Art. 13, §§ 3.1(c), 13.4-13.6). Id. at 3, 6. 6 As such, 1 determine which pay provisions apply to on-call 2 schedulers/caregivers, see Opp’n at 7-9, and to determine their 3 regular rate of pay, see Opp’n at 9-13. 4 position, Defendants provide a handful of examples indicating how 5 and why interpretation of the CBA may be required. 6 13. 7 the phrase “unable to work” in the context of the CBA’s reporting 8 time laws. 9 phrases in the CBA - such as “certain assignments,” “extreme In support of this Opp’n at 7- For instance, they posit the Court would need to interpret Opp’n at 8. They also highlight other “ambiguous” 10 behavioral issues,” or “extensive personal care needs” – that 11 they state the Court would need to interpret in order to decide 12 when premium payments and shift differentials apply. 13 Id. at 12. Defendants’ argument and proffered examples, however, fail 14 to show these interpretation issues would necessarily arise. 15 Indeed, Plaintiff contends that these issues will not arise as 16 there is no actual dispute between her claims and the terms of 17 the CBA. 18 their burden to show otherwise. 19 Humble, Defendants have shown only that the provisions set forth 20 in Article 13 of the CBA are “potentially relevant to the state 21 law claims, without any guarantee that interpretation or direct 22 reliance on the CBA terms will occur.” 23 “speculative reliance on the CBA will not suffice to preempt a 24 state law claim.” 25 federal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to 26 the right of removal. 27 there is such doubt. 28 See Reply. The Court finds Defendants have not carried Id. at 1008. Rather, in the language of 305 F.3d at 1010. But, Further, it bears repeating that Moore-Thomas, 553 F.3d at 1244. Here, Finally, the parties vigorously dispute the applicability of 7 1 Wilson-Davis v. SSP Am. Inc., 434 F.Supp.3d 806 (C.D. Cal. 2020). 2 Mot. at 10-11; Opp’n at 10-12. 3 California state law wage and hour class action that, like the 4 present case, was removed to federal court on the grounds that 5 Section 301 of the LMRA preempted the plaintiff-employee’s 6 claims. 7 to remand, arguing in relevant part that none of his state-law 8 claims required interpretation of the CBA and thus were not 9 preempted under the second part of Burnside. 434 F.Supp.3d at 810. Wilson-Davis involved a The Wilson-Davis plaintiff moved Id. at 813-818. In 10 granting the motion to remand, the Wilson-Davis court explained: 11 ““[i]t is not enough for Defendants to provide a laundry list of 12 provisions that they allege the Court must interpret to resolve 13 Plaintiff’s claims; Defendants must explain why interpretation, 14 as opposed to mere reference to the CBA, is necessary.” 15 813. 16 not meet their burden under the second part of Burnside by simply 17 providing a “laundry list of provisions” they allege this Court 18 must interpret. 19 the present case from Wilson-Davis, see Opp’n at 10-12, are of no 20 avail. Id. at That reasoning applies with equal force here: Defendants do Therefore, Defendants’ attempts to distinguish 21 Because Defendants have shown only a “hypothetical 22 connection” between the claims and the terms of the CBA, the 23 Court finds they have not made the requisite showing to trigger 24 preemption under the second part of Burnside. 25 at 691. 26 Section 301 of the LMRA preemption therefore fails and this case 27 must be remanded to the Sacramento County Superior Court. 28 /// Cramer, 255 F.3d Defendants’ argument for removal jurisdiction based on 8 1 C. Plaintiff’s Request for Fees and Costs 2 Plaintiff additionally requests the Court order Defendants 3 to pay attorney’s fees and costs incurred as result of the 4 removal. 5 should award fees and costs associated with this Motion because 6 “even a cursory review of the claims alleged, and the governing 7 CBA, would have revealed that Plaintiff’s claims do not implicate 8 the CBA.” 9 as demonstrated by the extensive caselaw cited to in their Mot. at 13; Reply at 5. Mot. at 15. She argues that the Court The Court does not agree and finds that, 10 opposition brief, Defendants had a good faith basis for removal. 11 Opp’n at 14. 12 denied. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s request for fees is 13 14 III. ORDER For the reasons set forth above, the Court GRANTS 15 Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand this case to the Sacramento County 16 Superior Court, but DENIES Plaintiff’s request for fees and costs 17 associated with the Motion. 18 IT IS SO ORDERED. 19 Dated: April 23, 2021 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 9

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?