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In Re Taco Bell Wages and Hour Actions

May 3, 2011

IN RE TACO BELL WAGES AND HOUR ACTIONS


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Oliver W. Wanger United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER RE PLAINTIFF‟S AMENDED MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE FIRST AMENDED CONSOLIDATED COMPLAINT. (DOC. 210)

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiffs move for leave to file a First Amended Consolidated Complaint. Doc. 210. Defendants oppose the motion. Doc. 214. The matter was heard on April 11, 2011.

II.FACTUAL BACKGROUND

This case is a consolidation of six related cases: (1) Medlock v. Taco Bell Corp., Case No. 1:07-cv-01314; (2) Hardiman v. Taco Bell Corp., Case No. 1:08-cv-01081; (3) Leyva v. Taco Bell Corp., et al., Case No. 1:09-cv-00200; (4) Naranjo v. Yum! Brands, Inc., Case No. 1:09-cv-00246; (5) Widjaja v. Yum Brands, Inc., Case No. 1:09-cv-01074; and (6) Nave v. Taco Bell Corp., Case No. 1:10-cv-02222.

The Medlock case was originally filed September 7, 2007. Pursuant to the Original and Amended Scheduling Conference Order, the deadline to file any motions to amend the complaint was March 24, 2008. Docs. 38 and 42. On that date, the Medlock Plaintiffs moved for leave to file a Second Amended Complaint, which was denied. Doc. 61.

The Medlock, Hardiman, Leyva, and Naranjo cases were consolidated May 19, 2009; the consolidated action was designated In re Taco Bell Wage and Hour Actions. Docs. 104, 109. A scheduling conference order dated June 29, 2009 (Doc. 117) and an amended scheduling conference dated July 7, 2009 (Doc. 119) set forth the following schedule: (1) June 30, 2009: deadline to file a Consolidated Complaint; (2) June 24, 2010: deadline for class certification discovery; (3) August 26, 2010 (extended to December 30, 2010 (Doc. 178)): deadline to file motions regarding class certification; (4) October 26, 2010 (extended to April 22, 2011 (Doc. 202)): deadline for Defendants‟ opposition to class certification; (5) December 6, 2010 (extended to May 20, 2011 (Doc. 202)): deadline for Plaintiffs‟ reply; and (6) January 10, 2011 (continued to June 6, 2011 (Doc. 202)): class certification hearing.

On June 29, 2009, Plaintiffs filed a Consolidated Complaint alleging: (1) unpaid overtime; (2) unpaid minimum wages; (3) unpaid wages; (4) missed meal periods; (5) missed rest periods;

(6) non-compliant wage statements; (7) unreimbursed business expenses; (8) vested accrued vacation wages; (9) non-payment of wages upon termination; and (10) non-payment of wages during employment. The Consolidated Complaint also asserts a claim for violation of California Business & Professions Code 17200, et seq. and penalties pursuant to California Labor Code sections 2698, et seq. ("PAGA"). Doc. 118-1.

The Widjaja action was consolidated with In re Taco Bell on October 22, 2009. Doc. 132.

On November 29, 2010, Teresa Nave filed a putative class action against Defendants alleging: (1) missed rest periods, (2) unpaid vested accrued vacation time, (3) non-payment of wages upon termination, and (4) violation of California Business & Professions Code §§ 17200, et seq. Case No. 1:10-cv-2222-OWW-DVB, Doc. 1. On December 9, 2010, the Nave complaint was amended, adding Christopher Duggan, Kevin Taylor, and Debra Doyle as named Plaintiffs. Id. at Doc. 10. The Nave case was consolidated with In re Taco Bell on December 16, 2010.

On December 30, 2010, Plaintiffs filed a motion for class certification. Doc. 185.

On March 14, 2011, Plaintiffs filed an amended motion for leave to file the First Amended Consolidated Complaint (Doc. 210). Defendants filed an opposition (Doc. 214), to which Plaintiffs replied (Doc. 215).

III. LEGAL STANDARD

Because a Rule 16 scheduling order is in place establishing a timetable for amending pleadings and the deadline expired before Plaintiffs moved to amend the Consolidated Complaint, resolution of the motion to amend is governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16. Coleman v. Quaker Oats Co., 232 F.3d 1271, 1294 (9th Cir. 2000). Rule 16(b) provides that "[a] schedule shall be modified only for good cause and with the judge‟s consent." Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b)(4). Rule 16(b)'s "good cause" standard primarily considers the diligence of the party seeking the amendment. Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975 F.2d 604, 609 (9th Cir. 1992).

[C]arelessness is not compatible with a finding of diligence and offers no reason for relief ... Although the existence or degree of prejudice to the party opposing the modification might supply additional reasons to deny a motion, the focus of the inquiry is upon the moving party's reasons for seeking modification ... If that party was not diligent, the inquiry should end.

Id.

If "good cause" within the meaning of Rule 16(b) is shown, the party seeking leave to amend must then demonstrate that leave to amend is appropriate under Rule 15, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See id. at 608.

Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a party may amend its pleadings "only with the opposing party‟s written consent or the court‟s leave" and that "the court should freely give leave when justice so requires." Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). This rule should be applied with "extreme liberality" in favor of allowing amendments in the early stages of a case. See Jones v. Bates , 127 F.3d 839, 847 n.8 (9th Cir. 1997). A court should consider four factors in determining whether to grant leave to amend: (1) undue delay, (2) bad faith, (3) futility of amendment, and (4) prejudice to the opposing party. United States v. Pend Oreille Pub. Util. Dist. No. 1 , 926 F.2d 1502, 1511 (9th Cir. 1991). Delay alone is not sufficient grounds for denying leave to amend. Id. The consideration of prejudice to the opposing party is the most important factor. Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc. th , 316 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9 Cir. 2003) ("Prejudice is the "touchstone of the inquiry under Rule 15(a)"). Absent prejudice, or a strong showing of any of the remaining factors, there is a presumption under Rule 15(a) in favor of granting leave to amend. Id. "‟Where there is a lack of prejudice to the opposing party and the amended complaint is obviously not frivolous, or made as a dilatory maneuver in bad faith, ...

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