Sadlowski et al v. PetersenDean Builder Group, Inc.

Filing 29

ORDER ON MOTION TO REMAND. Signed by Judge Claudia Wilken on 6/6/17. (dtmS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 6/6/2017)

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1 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 2 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 3 4 DOLORES SADLOWSKI, et al., 5 6 7 Plaintiffs, ORDER ON MOTION TO REMAND v. (Docket No. 16) PETERSEN-DEAN, INC., et al., 8 9 No. C 17-1601 CW Defendants. ________________________________/ United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 11 Plaintiffs move to remand this case to state court. 12 Defendants have filed an opposition and Plaintiffs have filed a 13 reply. 14 Court grants Plaintiffs’ motion. 15 16 Having considered the papers submitted by the parties, the BACKGROUND Plaintiffs make the following factual allegations in their 17 Second Amended Complaint (2AC). 18 Petersen-Dean, Inc. in October 2004. 19 not clear to whom--that James Peterson, the owner of both 20 Defendants Petersen-Dean, Inc. and PD Solar, Inc., misused company 21 funds and as a result failed to pay employees in a timely manner. 22 Sadlowski then went on medical leave. 23 return from leave, in August 2016. 24 Sadlowski’s daughter, began working for PD Solar in March 2007. 25 She too was terminated in August 2016. 26 Sadlowski began working for She made complaints--it is She was terminated upon her Plaintiff Shalina Jones, In February 2017, Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit in Alameda 27 County Superior Court in California alleging violation of the 28 California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA); violation of 1 California Labor Code section 1102.5 prohibiting retaliation 2 against whistleblowers; wrongful termination; violation of 3 California Labor Code sections 201 and 203 concerning payment of 4 wages after termination; and violation of the federal Family and 5 Medical Leave Act (FMLA). 6 their First Amended Complaint (1AC), which retained their federal 7 causes of action. 8 9 In early March 2017, Plaintiffs filed On March 24, Defendants removed. On April 3, Plaintiffs’ counsel transmitted a draft 2AC to Defendants’ counsel dropping United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 the FMLA claim and informing her that he intended to move for 11 remand. 12 believed the case would still be subject to federal jurisdiction 13 because the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) 14 completely preempts state law claims based on an ERISA 15 administrator’s failure promptly to provide benefits. The same day, Defendants’ counsel responded that she 16 On May 1, Plaintiffs filed the operative 2AC, including 17 neither the FMLA claim nor the claim Defendants’ counsel believed 18 preempted by ERISA. 19 California’s FEHA; a claim of violation of California’s Family 20 Rights Act; a claim of whistleblower retaliation in violation of 21 California Labor Code section 1102.5; and wrongful termination. 22 Plaintiffs furthermore assert that neither seeks damages that 23 would involve a federal question or federal preemption. 24 Plaintiffs moved for remand on May 9. 25 26 The 2AC includes five claims of violations of DISCUSSION A defendant may remove a civil action filed in state court to 27 federal district court so long as the district court could have 28 exercised original jurisdiction over the matter. 2 28 U.S.C. 1 § 1441(a). Title 28 U.S.C. § 1447 provides that if at any time 2 before judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject 3 matter jurisdiction over a case previously removed from state 4 court, the case must be remanded. 5 motion to remand, the scope of the removal statute must be 6 strictly construed. 7 (9th Cir. 1992). 8 jurisdiction means that the defendant always has the burden of 9 establishing that removal is proper.” 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). On a See Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 “The ‘strong presumption’ against removal Id. Courts should resolve United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 doubts as to removability in favor of remanding the case to state 11 court. 12 Id. The Ninth Circuit has “long held that post-removal amendments 13 to the pleadings cannot affect whether a case is removable, 14 because the propriety of removal is determined solely on the basis 15 of the pleadings filed in state court.” 16 Wholesale Corp., 471 F.3d 975, 976 (9th Cir. 2006) (per curiam). 17 However, in Williams the district court retained diversity 18 jurisdiction over the case after the plaintiff dismissed the sole 19 federal claim and it was primarily on this basis that the Ninth 20 Circuit found the district court erred by remanding. 21 see also Hill v. Rolleri, 615 F.2d 886, 889 (9th Cir. 1980) 22 (describing rule that removability is determined based on the 23 pleadings at the time notice of removal is filed as the “general 24 rule in diversity cases”). 25 there does not appear to be diversity of citizenship. 26 in Williams went on to hold, “Any post-removal pleadings must be 27 treated just as they would be in a case originally filed in 28 federal court.” Williams v. Costco Id. at 977; Here, Plaintiffs do not allege and 471 F.3d at 977. 3 The court 1 Because the original complaint and 1AC contained a federal 2 claim, the Court has supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs’ 3 state-law claims, 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a), and therefore is not 4 required by 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) to remand. 5 complaint supersedes the original, see Valadez-Lopez v. Chertoff, 6 656 F.3d 851, 857 (9th Cir. 2011), Plaintiffs effectively 7 dismissed their federal claims when they filed their 2AC. 8 district court has discretion to decline supplemental jurisdiction 9 when it has dismissed all claims over which it has original Because an amended A United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 jurisdiction. 11 114 F.3d 999, 1001 (9th Cir.), supplemented, 121 F.3d 714 (9th 12 Cir.), as amended (1997). 13 exercise supplemental jurisdiction over state law claims is 14 triggered by the presence of one of the conditions in § 1367(c), 15 it is informed by the [United Mine Workers of America v. Gibbs, 16 383 U.S. 715 (1966)] values ‘of economy, convenience, fairness, 17 and comity.’” 18 Ninth Circuit have repeatedly held that “in the usual case in 19 which all federal-law claims are eliminated before trial, the 20 balance of factors . . . will point toward declining to exercise 21 jurisdiction over the remaining state-law claims.” 22 at 1001 (quoting Carnegie-Mellon Univ. v. Cohill, 484 U.S. 343, 23 350 n.7 (1988)). 24 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c); Acri v. Varian Assocs., Inc., “While discretion to decline to Id. (citation omitted). The Supreme Court and the Acri, 114 F.3d The Gibbs factors weigh in favor of declining to exercise 25 supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs’ state law claims. 26 Judicial economy favors remand because the case is at a very early 27 stage. 28 resolution and it would not take the state court long to become The Court has not invested significant resources in its 4 1 equally familiar with it. See GlobalSantaFe Drilling Co. v. Ins. 2 Co. of State of Pa., 2006 WL 13090, at *7 (N.D. Cal.). 3 court is no less convenient. 4 court with “a surer-footed reading of applicable law.” 5 U.S. at 726. State Comity favors resolution by a state Gibbs, 383 6 Defendants essentially argue fairness, complaining that 7 Plaintiffs dismissed their federal claims in order to secure 8 remand to state court, and Plaintiffs admit as much. 9 least when a plaintiff did not include federal claims in “bad However, at United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 faith or for the sole purpose of putting defendants through the 11 removal-remand procedure” and “moved for remand with all due speed 12 after removal,” this is a permissible tactical decision. 13 v. Berkeley Farms, Inc., 64 F.3d 487, 490-91 (9th Cir. 1995), 14 abrogated on other grounds by Martin v. Franklin Capital Corp., 15 546 U.S. 132 (2005). 16 approximately six weeks after removal and little has happened save 17 the instant motion and Defendants’ separate answers to Plaintiffs’ 18 2AC. Defendants do not argue that Plaintiffs originally included 19 federal claims in bad faith. Baddie Here, Plaintiffs moved for remand The Court finds that the balance of factors weigh in favor of 20 21 declining supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs’ 2AC and 22 accordingly it will grant Plaintiffs’ motion to remand. 23 // 24 // 25 // 26 // 27 // 28 // 5 CONCLUSION 1 2 For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiffs’ motion to remand is 3 GRANTED (Docket No. 16). 4 Superior Court of Alameda County. 5 The clerk shall remand the case to the IT IS SO ORDERED. 6 7 8 Dated: June 6, 2017 CLAUDIA WILKEN United States District Judge 9 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 6

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