The Estate of Evangelia Macias et al v. Waste Management of Alameda County, Inc. et al

Filing 22

ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS AND VACATING HEARING by Judge William Alsup [granting 14 Motion to Dismiss]. (whasec, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 1/29/2014)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 8 9 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 12 THE ESTATE OF EVANGELINA MACIAS, an individual; ANA LAURA MACIAS; MARIA DE JESUS MACIAS; and VICTOR MACIAS, individually and as co-successors in interest of decedent Evangelina Macias, 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 Plaintiffs, v. WASTE MANAGEMENT OF ALAMEDA COUNTY, INC., a corporation; JOSE CASTELLANOS, individually; WASTE MANAGEMENT HOLDINGS, INC.; WASTE MANAGEMENT SECURITY, LLC; WM CORPORATE SERVICES, INC.; and DOES 1– 50, inclusive, ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS AND VACATING HEARING Defendants. / 20 21 No. C 13-04648 WHA INTRODUCTION 22 In this wrongful-death action, defendants move to dismiss the amended complaint for 23 failure to state a claim and for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. To the extent stated below, 24 the motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction is GRANTED. The hearing on 25 February 6, 2014, is hereby VACATED. 26 27 28 STATEMENT The following facts are assumed to be true for the purposes of defendants’ motion to dismiss. Plaintiffs are the daughters and husband of decedent Evangelina Macias. At the time 1 of her death, decedent was a traffic director for defendant Waste Management of Alameda 2 County, Inc. 3 In addition to WMAC, defendants include WMAC employee Jose Castellanos, WMAC’s 4 parent corporation, Waste Management Holdings, Inc., and WM Corporate Services, Inc., 5 which allegedly was identified incorrectly in the pleadings as Waste Management Security, LLC. 6 WM Corporate Services is a wholly owned corporation of Waste Management Holdings and 7 the entity reportedly responsible for (1) developing internal safety policies and procedures for all 8 Waste Management corporations; and (2) monitoring and controlling the security cameras on all 9 Waste Management corporation properties (Compl. ¶¶ 18, 19). According to the amended complaint, decedent was fatally injured when she was run 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 over by a front-end loader driven by Castellanos at WMAC’s dumpsite in San Leandro, 12 California. She died from her injuries that same day. WM Corporate Service’s safety policy 13 allegedly required traffic controllers to be in a protective zone to prevent serious bodily harm or 14 death. Decedent, however, had no such protective zone from which she could safely perform her 15 job (id. ¶¶ 16, 22, 23, 25). 16 The amended complaint asserts six claims: (1) violation of the federal Occupational 17 Safety and Health Act; (2) violation of the California Occupational Safety and Health 18 Regulations; (3) negligence; (4) wrongful death; (5) survival; and (6) negligent infliction of 19 emotional distress. Defendants now move to dismiss under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 20 12(b)(6) and 12(b)(1). 21 ANALYSIS 22 The central issue is whether there is federal subject-matter jurisdiction. Federal courts 23 have original jurisdiction over claims that raise a federal question or where there is a matter in 24 controversy exceeding $75,000 between citizens of different states. 28 U.S.C. 1331, 1332(a). 25 The action was commenced here on the basis of federal-question jurisdiction in light of 26 allegations that defendants violated federal OSHA laws. Federal OSHA violations, however, 27 do not themselves create a private right of action. 29 U.S.C. 653(b)(4); Crane v. Conoco, Inc., 28 2 1 41 F.3d 547, 553 (9th Cir. 1994). Therefore, the first claim for violations of federal OSHA 2 is dismissed. 3 The only basis for exercising jurisdiction over the remaining state-law claims is 4 supplemental jurisdiction. A district court may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction 5 over a state claim if “the district court has dismissed all claims over which it has original 6 jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C. 1367(c)(3). “To decline jurisdiction under [Section] 1367(c)(3), the 7 district court must first identify the dismissal that triggers the exercise of discretion and then 8 explain how declining jurisdiction serves the objectives of economy, convenience and fairness to 9 the parties, and comity.” Trustees of Constr. Indus. & Laborers Health & Welfare Trust v. Desert Valley Landscape & Maint., Inc., 333 F.3d 923, 925 (9th Cir. 2003). The Supreme Court 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 has also instructed that “if the federal claims are dismissed before trial, even though not 12 insubstantial in a jurisdiction sense, the state claims should be dismissed as well.” United Mine 13 Workers of America v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 726 (1966). 14 In this action, the principles of judicial economy, convenience and fairness to the parties, 15 and comity weigh against retaining supplemental jurisdiction. Plaintiffs filed the amended 16 complaint less than three months ago and the case remains in the early stages of litigation. 17 There has not been enough work done on this action and it is more efficient to dismiss the claims 18 than exercise supplemental jurisdiction. Furthermore, in their opposition, plaintiffs concede 19 there is no subject-matter jurisdiction (Opp. 2). For these reasons, the order dismisses the 20 amended complaint without prejudice. 21 Nonetheless, plaintiffs seek leave to amend under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a). 22 It is true that under this rule, a court “should freely give leave when justice so requires,” but 23 the problem here is that there is no subject-matter jurisdiction at all. Indeed, in addressing 24 Section 1653 of Title 28 of the United States Code, the Supreme Court explained that 25 amendments may be made “only [to] incorrect statements about jurisdiction that actually 26 exists, and not [to] defects in the jurisdictional facts themselves.” Newman-Green, Inc. v. 27 Alfonzo-Larrain, 490 U.S. 826, 831 (1989) (emphasis added); see also Zee Medical Distributor 28 Ass'n, Inc. v. Zee Medical, Inc., 23 F. Supp. 2d 1151, 1157 (1998) (Judge Charles Breyer). 3 1 Because there is no subject-matter jurisdiction here, as conceded by plaintiffs, their request for 2 leave to amend is DENIED. 3 Accordingly, the motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction is GRANTED. CONCLUSION 4 5 6 To the extent stated above, the motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction is GRANTED. The hearing on February 6, 2014, is hereby VACATED. 7 8 IT IS SO ORDERED. 9 Dated: January 29, 2014. WILLIAM ALSUP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

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