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Christopher Otey v. Crowdflower

May 8, 2013

CHRISTOPHER OTEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CROWDFLOWER, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jon S. Tigar United States District Judge

AMENDED ORDER DENYING MOTION TO BIFURCATE AND STAY DISCOVERY; DENYING MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION Re: ECF Nos. 44, 92

In this putative collective action for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, Defendants CrowdFlower, Lucas Biewald, and Chris Van Pelt move under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 15 to stay discovery and motion practice pertaining to Otey's collective action claims until the merits 16 of Otey's individual claims are resolved. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND

In the first amended complaint, Otey alleges that Defendants failed to pay their employees minimum wages as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") and Oregon labor laws.

First Am. Compl. ¶ 1, ECF. No. 2.

Defendants move to stay all discovery and motion practice pertaining to Otey's collective 22 action claims until after the merits of Otey's individual claims are resolved. Specifically, 23 Defendants urge the Court to determine the question of whether CrowdFlower was Otey's 24 employer under the FLSA before Otey is permitted to conduct class discovery, as such a 25 determination could be dispositive of Otey's individual claims and this action. Mot. at 1, ECF No. 26

44. Defendants argue their proposed bifurcation of the case would promote efficiency and prevent 27 them from needlessly undertaking the expensive and "herculean task" of identifying the names and contact information of "over 4,000,000" putative class members.*fn1 Id. at 8. Defendants agree 2 to toll the statute of limitations on the class members' FLSA claims in the event that their motion 3 is granted. Id. at 12. 4

Otey opposes the motion, arguing that Defendants' request to stay discovery pending the 5 resolution of his individual claims is "unprecedented," premature, prejudicial to the putative class 6 members, and inefficient. ECF No. 54. 7

Before this action was reassigned to this Court, Otey filed a motion for conditional class 8 certification. ECF No. 46. District Judge Breyer granted a stipulated request to stay the briefing 9 on that motion until Defendants' motion to stay discovery is resolved. ECF No. 76. 10

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A court may grant a motion to stay or alter the sequence of discovery upon showing of 12 good cause by the moving party. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c) & (d). "Generally, such motions are disfavored because discovery stays may interfere with judicial efficiency and cause unnecessary 14 litigation in the future." See White v. E-Loan, Inc., No. 05-cv-02080 SI, 2006 WL 2850041, at *2 15 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 5, 2006) (citation omitted). Therefore, before the district court grants a request to 16 stay discovery, the moving party must make a "strong showing why discovery should be denied" 17 by establishing a specific need for the stay. Id. (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). 18

III. DISCUSSION

The FLSA allows an employee to bring a collective action on behalf of himself and "other 20 employees similarly situated." 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). An employee is not a party to the collective 21 action unless he opts into the action. Id. Whether a putative collective action can proceed 22 typically depends on whether the plaintiff is able to establish that the putative collective action is certifiable; certification requires a showing that the putative class members are "similarly situated." Lewis v. Wells Fargo, 669 F. Supp. 2d 1124, 1127 (N.D. Cal. 2009) (citation omitted). 24

Most courts in this circuit follow a two-stage process for certifying a putative collective action. In the first stage, the court conditionally certifies the putative collective action and gives 2 the plaintiff permission to conduct class discovery if the plaintiff shows by declarations or other 3 evidence that "the putative class members ...


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