Navarro v. Servisair, LLC, 2008 WL 3842984, Case No. C-08-02716-MHP (N.D. Cal. Aug. 14, 2008)

The plaintiff filed a class action against his employer, Servisair, LLC (“Servisair”), in the Superior Court of California for the County of San Francisco, alleging inadequate compensation under the California Labor Code. Servisair provides aviation ground services including airline ramp services and cabin cleaning. All of the putative class members were employed in California. 

Servisair removed the case to the Northern District of California, alleging federal question jurisdiction based on preemption of state law claims and diversity jurisdiction under CAFA. In the notice of removal, Servisair, which is a limited liability company failed to allege the residence of each of its members, and instead, treated itself as a corporation when alleging diversity, prompting the plaintiff to try to nose dive back into state court with a motion to  remand. 

In the motion to remand, the plaintiff argued that Servisair (1) failed to demonstrate that each member of the LLC was diverse from the putative class members, and (2) did not provide a factual basis for concluding that the amount in controversy under CAFA was met. 

The Court found that both federal question jurisdiction and diversity jurisdiction under CAFA were present. With respect to CAFA jurisdiction, Servisair presented evidence in its opposition brief that neither of the two holding companies that owned Servisair held any tangible property or generated any revenue apart from their interest in Servisair and that neither had any employees. Servisair also argued that its members’ business operations did not “predominate” in California. The Court found no evidence to the contrary.

The plaintiff argued that since Servisair did not provide evidence of diversity until after the expiration of the thirty-day removal period, removal was time-barred and prohibited. The Court agreed with the plaintiff that the Notice of Removal was deficient, but held that, since diversity did in fact exist, it would consider Servisair’s opposition to the motion to remand as an “amendment” to its notice of removal. In order to dissuade sloppy drafting, however, the Court awarded the plaintiff the attorneys’ fees and costs associated with the motion to remand. Hopefully, Servisair’s cleaning services are not as sloppy as its removal drafting!