United States District Court, S.D. California
REID YEOMAN and RITA MEDELLIN, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
IKEA U.S.A. WEST, INC., Defendant.
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO BELATEDLY AMEND THE SCHEDULE IN ORDER TO FILE A MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AS TO THE CLAIMS OF ABSENT CLASS MEMBERS
BERNARD G. SKOMAL, Magistrate Judge.
Defendant filed the instant motion seeking leave to amend the schedule in order to file a motion for summary judgment. The proposed motion seeks summary judgment as to "the absent class members' claims on the ground that Plaintiff has no evidence to, and no witness who can, establish the occurrence of a violation of the Song Beverly Credit Card Act other than with respect to Plaintiff's own claim." (Doc. Nos. 129 at 4; 138). Plaintiff opposes the motion. (Doc. No. 140.) The Court has thoroughly reviewed all of the papers filed by both parties, not only with respect to the pending motion to amend the schedule, but also all of the papers filed in support of and opposition to Defendant's motion to decertify and motion in limine regarding its process for entering zip codes at the register, as well as Judge Hayes's orders on the motions. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's request is Denied.
I. BACKGROUND RELEVANT TO INSTANT MOTION
Plaintiff's complaint alleges that "Ikea systematically and intentionally violates the [Song-Beverly Credit Card Act of 1971] by uniformly requesting that cardholders provide personal identification information, including their ZIP codes, during credit card transactions, and then recording that information in electronic database systems." ( Id. at 2.) Plaintiff's Motion for Class Certification was granted on May 4, 2012. (Doc. No. 43.) The certified class consisted of "all persons from whom Ikea requested and recorded a ZIP Code in conjunction with a credit card transaction in California from February 16, 2010 through the date of trial in this action." Id.
On July 10, 2012, two months after the order certifying the class was issued, the parties sought to continue fact and expert discovery for 90 days because Plaintiff believed additional Rule 30(b)(6) depositions were necessary and could not be completed before the July 13, 2012 fact discovery deadline. (Doc. No. 48-1 at 2.) In their motion to extend time, the parties asked for an additional 90 days for discovery but did not ask to extend any other deadlines. ( Id. ) Accordingly, the Court found good cause to extend discovery solely to take the Rule 30(b)(6) witness deposition, but did not find good cause to otherwise extend any other dates or deadlines. (Doc. No. 50.) Thus, the deadline to file motions other than motions in limine remained set for October 22, 2012. (Doc. Nos. 19, 42, 50.)
On September 7, 2012, Defendant filed a motion to decertify or modify the class because during discovery it learned: 1) many cashiers circumvented the ZIP Code recording process; 2) Defendant's records cannot distinguish between certain signature debit card transactions, which are not covered by the Song-Beverly Credit Card Act, and credit card transactions; and 3) transactions made at self-checkout kiosks are not covered by or are exempt from the Song-Beverly Credit Card Act. ( Id. at 51-1.)
Notably, when Defendant filed the motion for decertification, it did not seek to extend the deadline to file further motions, including any potential motions for summary judgment. Further, the motion to decertify explicitly raised the very issue that Defendant's requested motion for summary judgment intends to address. ( Id. )
On September 28, 2012-about a month before the deadline to file dispositive motions-the parties jointly requested to continue expert discovery deadlines. (Doc. No. 64.) The request only sought to extend the deadline to exchange supplemental expert reports and complete expert witness depositions. Defendant did not address a need to amend the schedule in order to reserve the right to file a motion for summary judgment. ( See id. ) And on January 3, 2013, the parties filed a motion to continue the pretrial conference date by 90 days because Defendant's motion to decertify, Plaintiff's motion to exclude witnesses, and Plaintiff's motion to compel class notice remained pending. (Doc. No. 87.) The parties sought to be relieved of their duty to prepare pretrial submissions because they did not know the outcome of the significant pending motions. ( Id. ) Importantly, the motion made no mention of Defendant's intent to file a motion for summary regarding the claims of absent class members. The Court vacated the deadlines to complete expert discovery and the final pretrial conference. (Doc. No. 88.) The Court further directed the parties to contact Judge Skomal's chambers within three days of receiving a decision on any of the pending motions so that the expert discovery deadline and pretrial conference could be reset. Because the parties never contacted the undersigned's chambers as directed, on March 19, 2013, the Court sua sponte issued an amended scheduling order setting a deadline for the completion of "any and all remaining expert discovery, " as well as a date for the final pretrial conference and corresponding pretrial filings. (Doc. No. 94.)
Throughout March and April 2013, the parties litigated the issue of class notice. (Doc. Nos. 95, 96, 98.) Although Defendant filed extensive briefing and exhibits in opposition to Plaintiff's plan for notice, Defendant never mentioned its intent to belatedly amend the schedule in order to file a motion for summary judgment as to the absent class members' claims. ( See generally Doc. No. 96.)
Also relevant to Defendant's present request to amend the schedule is the fact that Plaintiff moved to amend the schedule in April 2013-after the decision on Defendant's motion to decertify was issued. (Doc. No. 100.) In opposition to Plaintiff's motion, Defendant strenuously objected to amending the schedule because it would cause delay. In fact, Defendant characterized Plaintiff's request as a "lengthy and unexplained delay in pursuing the relief she now so belatedly seeks...." (Doc. No. 102 at 7.) Defendant's opposition emphasized that the Court amended the schedule on the parties' request numerous times, but Plaintiff never expressed a need to take further discovery in any of those requests for extensions. ( Id. at 11-12.) As the parties are well aware, the Court denied Plaintiff's motion to amend the schedule.
On October 14, 2013, Defendant filed the parties' Joint Motion to Continue the Mandatory Settlement Conference and final Pretrial Conference. (Doc. No. 123.) The motion specifically contemplated the parties' need to complete class notice before proceeding to trial, but notably omitted any reference to the need to amend the schedule in order for Defendant to file a motion for summary after class notice was sent. ( Id. at 2.) In fact, Defendant waited until eight months after Judge Hayes denied Defendant's motion to decertify before first mentioning its intent to file a motion for summary judgment as to the absent class members' claims. ( See Mot. in Limine to Exclude Ikea's Process for Entering Zip Codes; Doc. No. 127.)
Significantly, the motion Defendant seeks to file if allowed to amend the schedule would not dispose of the case. The motion solely seeks a decision akin to decertification of the class action. Defendant argues "Plaintiff cannot offer any admissible evidence by which to prove the occurrence of requests for or the recording of zip codes of any putative class member that violates the Song Beverly Credit Card Act other than with respect to three particular individuals." (Doc. No. 138 at 2 (emphasis added).) Defendant, however, raised this same issue in its Motion in Limine to exclude its "Process for entering Zip Codes at the register' (IKEA 000286) and any testimony about IKEA's cashiering process...." (Doc. No. 127-a at 6.) On February 20, 2014, Defendant's motion in limine was denied because the court found "Defendant has not established that Rule 406, or any other authority, precludes the admission of the Process for entering Zip Codes at the register, ' at this state in the proceedings." (Doc. No. 153 at 5.)
Although Judge Hayes denied the motion in limine, Defendant still seeks to amend the schedule in order to file a motion for summary judgment ...