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Rosales v. El Rancho Farms

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

January 29, 2014

MARGARITA ROSALES and ANGELICA ROSALES, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
EL RANCHO FARMS and DOES 1-20, Defendants.


JENNIFER L. THURSTON, Magistrate Judge.


Defendant El Rancho Farms ("El Rancho") seeks modification of the Court's Scheduling Order to permit the filing of an additional dispositive motion to request decertification of the class. (Doc. 146.) Plaintiffs Margarita Rosales and Angelica Rosales oppose modification of the Scheduling Order. (Doc. 154.) The Court heard the oral arguments of the parties at a hearing on January 23, 2014.

For the following reasons, Defendant's motion to modify the Scheduling Order is DISREGARDED. Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(c)(1)(C), the Court recommends the motion for decertification be DENIED.

I. Relevant Procedural History

On November 9, 2005, Plaintiffs' counsel initiated an action against table grape growers based in Kern County. ( Doe v. D.M. Camp & Sons , Case No. 1:05-cv-1417-AWI-SMS, Doc. 2.)[1] At the time the complaint was filed, the plaintiffs were unnamed former and current employees of the defendants. See id. On December 6, 2005, Plaintiffs filed their First Amended Complaint, identifying additional defendants, including El Rancho Farms. ( Doe, Doc. 9.) The Court acknowledged the Doe matter was related to several other cases initiated against grape growers. See Doe v. D.M. Camp & Sons, 624 F.Supp.2d 1153 (E.D. Cal. 2008).

Defendants in Doe, including El Rancho, filed motions to dismiss, which were granted by the Court on March 31, 2008. ( Doe, Docs. 81, 168.) In addition, the Court granted motions to sever the action, and the Court ordered the plaintiffs to file amended pleadings against each defendant. Id. On May 29, 2008, "Angelica Rosales"[2] and Margarita Rosales were identified as plaintiffs in the Third Amended Complaint against El Rancho Farms. ( Doe, Doc. 173.) On March 31, 2009, the Court ordered Plaintiffs to re-file in a new action within twenty days to finalize severance. ( Doe, Doc. 241.)

On April 20, 2009, Plaintiffs filed their complaint against El Rancho, alleging the following: violation of the Agricultural Workers Protection Act, 29 U.S.C. § 1801; failure to pay wages; failure to pay reporting time wages; failure to provide meal and rest periods; failure to pay wages of terminated or resigned employees; knowing and intentional failure to comply with itemized employee wage statement provisions; penalties under Labor Code § 2699, et seq.; breach of contract; and violation of unfair competition law. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiffs filed the action "on behalf of Plaintiffs and members of the Plaintiff Class comprising all non-exempt agricultural, packing shed, and storage cooler employees employed, or formerly employed, by each of the Defendants within the State of California." ( Id. at 4.)

In compliance with the Court's deadline for seeking class certification, Plaintiffs filed a motion on September 9, 2011. (Doc. 33.) Plaintiffs sought certification of classes for unpaid rest breaks, untimely rest and meal breaks, off-the-clock work, and tool reimbursement. Each of these classes included "fieldworkers employed or jointly employed by El Rancho." However, Plaintiffs failed to show Defendant was a joint employer of the fieldworkers. Also, Plaintiffs failed to demonstrate they worked a pure piece rate basis and lacked standing to represent the unpaid rest break class. Conflicting evidence defeated certification of the remaining classes. The recommendations were adopted in full on January 31, 2012, and Plaintiffs' motion for class certification was denied. (Doc. 56.)

Plaintiffs filed a motion for reconsideration based upon new evidence, seeking to demonstrate El Rancho was a joint employer and three narrowed class definitions satisfied the requirements of class certification. (Doc. 60.) On July 6, 2012, the Court granted Plaintiffs' motion in part, and gave leave "to file a second motion for class certification with respect to meal periods of Garza employees who worked at El Rancho facilities." (Doc. 95 at 9.) Accordingly, Plaintiffs filed their second motion for class certification on July 26, 2012. (Doc. 97.)

On August 19, 2012, the Court recommended Plaintiffs' second motion for class certification be granted. (Doc. 106.) After considering the objections filed by Defendant and Plaintiffs' response thereto, the findings and recommendations were adopted in full on March 25, 2013. (Doc. 112). Accordingly, the class is defined as follows:

All employees of Garza Contracting, Inc. who worked at El Rancho Farms facilities from 11/9/2001 through 12/31/2008 and who were provided a 12:00 noon meal break on shifts starting before 7:00 a.m.

(Doc. 106 at 13; Doc. 112 at 6.)

Following resolution of the motion for class certification, the Court held a status conference with the parties to considering scheduling the remainder of the case. The parties filed a Joint Status Report in which Plaintiffs requested additional discovery, while Defendant argued the discovery period had closed, and the deadlines for filing non-dispositive and dispositive pre-trial motions had passed. (Doc. 114.) On April 19, 2013, the Court issued an "Order Amending the Scheduling Order, " declining to reopen discovery, but amending the filing deadlines for non-dispositive and dispositive motions in light of the fact that the deadlines "expired while the parties were awaiting rulings on Plaintiffs' motions for class certification." (Doc. 117 ...

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