Gates v. Starbucks Corp., No. 09-02702 (N.D. Ca August 21, 2009)

Another CAFA case, another predictable decision; but what is the real story – that’s what makes this case “H” “O” “T,” hot, hot, hot.

The CAFA formula has been set, leading to hum-drum reading of otherwise scintillating opinions: plaintiff brings purported state class action against former employer after being fired, defendant removes, plaintiff seeks remand, Court denies on basis of CAFA.

This case was no different. The plaintiff challenged removal on the basis that the defendant had not met the jurisdictional amount criteria. The federal court disagreed and maintained jurisdiction. Can you say yawn? We can.

Our readers want the real juice, the meat of the story, the zing that takes this dispute from your average every-day dark roast and adds a little chicory. What caffeinates (is that even a word) this story you ask? The struggle of the downtrodden? Global corporatization? The people v. the Man? Read between the lines, fearless readers.

The real spice in this little ditty is that Starbucks learned that its employees were drinking Dunkin Donuts coffee … on the job – GASP.[1] You’ve all seen the commercials: “America Runs on Dunkin”! What was Starbucks supposed to do? This is all about loss of employee control. They had to throw the bums out on their “grande” bumms. The word on the street is that employees were smuggling Dunkin coffee to work in Starbucks travel mugs, slinking away to dark corners of the store (just out of sight of the Starbucks security cameras), and sipping down their hot black elixir. We cannot print what was happening at the milk frothing machine (what with all of the steam billowing from the creamy hot white … let’s just say that customers were not getting their café-au-laits in a timely manner). Makes one wonder, Sugar, Splenda, or just down and dirty Sweet and Low?

I guess you could say that the district court dunked the plaintiffs’ hopes.

Of course, this brings up another thought: what other punny conclusions can we make from this story? The defendant’s removal arguments were too hot for the plaintiffs to handle? The plaintiffs’ arguments were caught up in the district court’s jurisdictional filter? Of course there is always that the defendants were able to show that the jurisdictional amount was “venti” (that’s large for us plain-speakin’ folks).

Oh well, Starbucks won.


[1] EDITOR’S NOTE – This is NOT what happened, the rest of this post is pure fiction. Yet, since most people don’t read footnotes anyway, we figured we could just bend the facts a little bit in the body of the post to make this a bit more interesting and place this disclaimer here in this likely little read footnote. I mean, how else are we supposed to make amount in controversy disputes interesting? Are we really supposed to talk about how many employees Starbucks could reasonably presume were in the class and what their daily wages were? So please, forgive us for taking liberties with the facts and enjoy the rest of the story.