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Dolores Prieto v. U.S. Bank National Association

September 30, 2012

DOLORES PRIETO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
U.S. BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, A DELAWARE CORPORATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



ORDER

On August 31, 2011, the court heard argument on defendants' motion for reconsideration of this court's order of June 3, 2011 denying defendant's motion for summary judgment. The court grants defendants' motion for reconsideration (ECF No. 51), vacates its order on summary judgment (ECF No. 49), and upon reconsideration denies defendants' motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 38).

I. Reconsideration

"A district court's power to rescind, reconsider, or modify an interlocutory order is derived from the common law, not from the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure." City of Los Angeles v. Santa Monica BayKeeper, 254 F.3d 882, 886 (9th Cir. 2001); McConnell v. Lassen County, No. CIV. S-05-0909 FCD DAD, 2008 WL 4482853, at *2 (E.D. Cal. Oct. 3, 2008) ("Where reconsideration of a non-final order is sought, the court has 'inherent jurisdiction to modify, alter, or revoke it.'" (quoting United States v. Martin, 226 F.3d 1042, 1048-49 (9th Cir. 2000)). In addition, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) authorizes courts to revise "any order or other decision . . . that adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties .. . at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the parties' rights and liabilities." Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b); Regents v. University of Calif. v. Bernzomatic, No. CIV. 2:10-cv-1224 FCD GGH, 2011 WL 666912, at *2 (E.D. Cal. Feb. 11, 2011) (relying on Rule 54 in deciding whether to reconsider the denial of summary judgment). Reconsideration is appropriate where there has been an intervening change in controlling law, new evidence has become available, or it is necessary to correct clear error or prevent manifest injustice. Cachil Dehe Band of Wintun Indians v. California, 649 F. Supp. 2d 1063, 1069 (E.D. Cal. 2009) (citing School Dist. No. 1J Multnomah County, Oregon v. AC&S Inc., 5 F.3d 1255, 1263 (9th Cir. 1993)). In this case, the court grants defendants' motion for reconsideration in order to clarify its prior ruling regarding the scope of the class action release defendants claim forecloses the instant action.

II. Summary Judgment Standards

A court will grant summary judgment "if . . . there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a). The "threshold inquiry" is whether "there are any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986).*fn1

The moving party bears the initial burden of showing the district court "that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party, which "must establish that there is a genuine issue of material fact . . . ." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 585 (1986). In carrying their burdens, both parties must "cit[e] to particular parts of materials in the record . . . or show [] that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c)(1); see also Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586 ("[the nonmoving party] must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts"). Moreover, "the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact . . . . Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48 (emphasis in original).

In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the court draws all inferences and views all evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587-88; Whitman v. Mineta, 541 F.3d 929, 931 (9th Cir. 2008). "Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no 'genuine issue for trial.'" Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587 (quoting First National Bank of Arizona v. Cities Service Co., 391 U.S. 253, 289 (1968)).

III. Factual and Procedural Background

The facts of this case are largely undisputed; the parties' disagreement centers on the effect of an earlier class action suit.

Plaintiff Dolores Prieto began working for defendant U.S. Bank in May 2005. Def.'s Undisputed Fact ( DUF) 2.*fn2 In November 2006, she was promoted to an "In-Store Branch Manager" of a retail bank inside a supermarket. DUF 3. She was terminated from her position in January 2009. DUF 4.*fn3

On Apri1 1, 2009, she filed this putative class action, based on this court's diversity jurisdiction. ECF No. 2 at 4 ¶ 14. Plaintiff claims that she and other In-Store Branch Managers employed by defendant in California had been misclassified as exempt from overtime. DUF 5. The complaint seeks relief for failure to pay overtime compensation, failure to provide rest and meal breaks, failure to pay all wages due at termination under California Labor Code § 203, unlawful business practices under California Business and Professions Code § 17200, et seq., and failure to provide accurate itemized wage statements. DUF 6. The court dismissed the class claims. DUF 8-9.

On April 4, 2007, a case entitled Ross v. U.S. Bank was filed in Alameda County Superior Court; it was removed to the Northern District of California on June 7, 2007. DUF 10-11. In its notice of removal, defendant U.S. Bank identified the federal court's jurisdiction over the overtime and rest and meal break claims brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), its supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims, and diversity under the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2). ECF No. 39-1 at 4-5, ¶¶ 9-14. The third amended complaint in Ross presented wage and hour claims on behalf of employees, including the failure to pay overtime compensation, failure to provide rest and meal breaks, failure to pay all wages due at termination under California Labor Code § 203, unlawful business practices under California Business and Professions Code § 17200, et seq., and failure to provide accurate itemized wage statements. DUF 12. The plaintiffs noted the court had federal question jurisdiction over the FLSA claims, supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1367, independent subjection matter jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S. C. § 1332(d)(2) (CAFA), and added that the named plaintiffs were each diverse with respect to U.S. Bank. ECF No. 39-2 at 6-7.

The Northern District granted conditional class certification and defined the two Ross classes as (1) all hourly employees of U.S. Bank who worked at a U.S. Bank California in-store branch, during a Sunday shift, during the period April 9, 2003, through the date of judgment in that case; and (2) all hourly employees of a U.S. Bank who worked a shift of more than five hours at a U.S. Bank California in-store branch during the same period. DUF 14. Plaintiff Prieto was a member of these classes. DUF 15.

On January 26, 2010, Class Notice was sent to all class-members (those who held a non-exempt position in California during the relevant time period), including Prieto, at her most recent address. DUF 16, 18. The notice was addressed to "ALL PERSONS WHO ARE EMPLOYED OR WHO, SINCE APRIL 9, 2003, HAVE BEEN EMPLOYED IN THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA BY U.S. BANK AS AN HOURLY-PAID IN-STORE EMPLOYEE." Def.'s Request for Judicial Notice (DRJN), ECF No. 38-2 at 6. The notice identified the two classes conditionally certified by the court and described the relief sought on behalf of the class members. DRJN, ECF No. 38-1 at 7. It included information on opting-out of the class:

If you wish to remain a Class Member and have your interests represented by Class Counsel approved by the Court, you do not need to take any action at this time. You will receive further notices as the case progresses. If you remain a Class Member, you will be legally bound by any decision, favorable or unfavorable, in this lawsuit. If you remain a Class Member, and the Plaintiffs obtain money as a result of a trial or a settlement with respect to an issue that pertains to you, you will be notified about the procedure for submitting a claim for payment.

ECF No. 38-1 at 8 (emphasis in original). It continued "if you want to exclude yourself from the Class, you must make your request in writing. . . . If you do not exclude yourself from this lawsuit, any judgment rendered by the Court or jury, whether ...


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