Amazon Loses Bid to Keep Driver Pay Case in Federal Court

A lawsuit that says Amazon.com Inc. misclassifies delivery drivers as independent contractors instead of employees was kicked out of federal court.

Amazon had transferred the case to federal court from the Massachusetts state court where it was initially filed. The online retailer took advantage of the federal Class Action Fairness Act, which lets a defendant in a large putative class action that’s sued in state court switch to federal.

But Amazon relied on “unreasonably speculative” predictions that the amount drivers could win would exceed the CAFA’s $5 million threshold, Judge Timothy S. Hillman of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts said. Amazon appeared to overestimate the amount of litigation it would involve and the attorneys’ fees it would cost, he said.

Massachusetts’ independent contractor classification law that the case was filed under tends to result in resolutions that don’t need extensive billable hours, Hillman said. He remanded the case to Worcester Superior Court.

Employee status would mean drivers are entitled to workplace protections such as minimum wage and overtime, which aren’t required for contractors.

The case is Waithaka v. Amazon.com Inc., 2018 BL 309199, D. Mass., No. 4:17-cv-40141, remanded to state court 8/28/18.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jon Steingart in Washington at jsteingart@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Terence Hyland at thyland@bloomberglaw.com