United States District Court, D. Hawaii
HAZEL BROWN BARTHOLOMA and JOEY MENDONCA, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
MARRIOTT BUSINESS SERVICES, ET AL., Defendants.
ORDER ADOPTING FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION, AND
REMANDING ACTION TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FIRST CIRCUIT,
STATE OF HAWAII
Michael Seabright Chief United States District Judge.
Marriott Business Services, Marriott International, Inc., and
Essex House Condominium Corporation (collectively,
“Defendants”) object under 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1) and Local Rule 72.4 to an April 18, 2018 Findings
and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge Richard L. Puglisi to
Grant Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand (the “April 18
F&R”). ECF No. 17. The April 18 F&R recommended
that the court remand this action to the Circuit Court of the
First Circuit, State of Hawaii (“State Court”)
because Defendants' removal of this action was untimely.
Specifically, it determined that Plaintiffs' Third Motion
for Class Certification, filed November 6, 2017, triggered 28
U.S.C. § 1446(b)(3), which required Defendants to remove
the action “within 30 days after receipt by the
defendant, through service or otherwise, of a copy of an
amended pleading, motion, order or other paper from which it
may first be ascertained that the case is one which is or has
become removable.” And, because Defendants removed on
February 1, 2018, well past this thirty-day window, the April
18 F&R concluded that the removal was untimely and thus
recommended that this case be remanded to State Court.
novo review, the court agrees that the filing of the Third
Motion for Class Certification was a motion from which
Defendant could first ascertain that Plaintiffs were
alleging, among other requirements, an amount in controversy
in excess of $5 million such that the case was then subject
to removal under the Class Action Fairness Act
(“CAFA”). Accordingly, the court OVERRULES the
objections, ADOPTS the April 18 F&R, and REMANDS the
action to State Court.
State Court Proceedings
filed a First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) in State
Court on March 8, 2016. ECF No. 5-4. It alleges that
Plaintiffs were employed by Defendants at the Marriott's
Kauai Beach Club to work on banquets and other food and
beverage service events. Id. ¶¶ 5, 14. It
further claims that Defendants wrongfully withheld from
Plaintiffs a service fee paid by the hotel's customers to
Defendants. Id. ¶ 14. This conduct, according
to the FAC, was in violation of Hawaii Revised Statutes
(“HRS”) §§ 481B-14, 480-2, and 388-6,
and “Plaintiffs and other members of the proposed class
are entitled to treble damages in accordance with HRS Section
480-13(a).” Id. ¶¶ 15, 19.
Plaintiffs filed their Third Motion for Class Certification
on November 6, 2017. ECF No. 6-3.
Federal Court Proceedings
February 1, 2018, Defendants removed the case to this court,
asserting CAFA jurisdiction. ECF No. 1. Plaintiffs filed a
Motion to Remand on March 2, 2018, Defendants filed an
Opposition on March 15, 2018, and Plaintiffs filed a Reply on
March 29, 2018. ECF Nos. 10, 13, and 15.
the April 18 F&R granted Plaintiffs' Motion to
Remand, ECF No. 16, Defendants filed Objections on May 2,
2018, and Plaintiffs filed a Response to the Objections on
May 16, 2018. ECF Nos. 17 & 19. The court determines this
matter without a hearing pursuant to Local Rule 7.2(d).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
party objects to a magistrate judge's findings or
recommendations, the district court must review de novo those
portions to which the objections are made and “may
accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings
or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also United States v.
Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 673 (1980); United States v.
Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir. 2003) (en
banc) (“[T]he district judge must review the magistrate
judge's findings and recommendations de novo if
objection is made, but not otherwise.”).
de novo standard, this court reviews “the matter anew,
the same as if it had not been heard before, and as if no
decision previously had been rendered.” Freeman v.
DirecTV, Inc., 457 F.3d 1001, 1004 (9th Cir. 2006);
United States v. Silverman, 861 F.2d 571, 576 (9th
Cir. 1988). The district court need not hold a de novo
hearing; however, it is the court's obligation to arrive
at its own independent conclusion about those portions of the
magistrate judge's findings or recommendation to which a
party objects. United States v. Remsing, 874 F.2d
614, 618 (9th Cir. 1989).
sole issue before the court is whether Plaintiffs' Third
Motion for Class Certification triggered §
1446(b)(3)'s thirty-day removal clock. Plaintiffs argue
that the February 1, 2018 removal to this court was untimely
because Defendants were placed on notice sufficient to
trigger removal based on their Third Motion for Class
Certification, filed on November 6, 2017. Defendants, in
turn, claim that the Third Motion for Class Certification did
not provide them sufficient notice that the aggregate amount
in controversy equals or exceeds $5 million. The court first
sets forth the legal principles that apply to CAFA removal,
and then addresses the timeliness of Defendants' removal
to federal court.