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Trosper v. Stryker Corporation

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

April 22, 2014

TANNER TROSPER, on behalf of himself, individually, and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
STRYKER CORPORATION, HOWMEDICA OSTEONICS CORPORATION and DOES 1-10, inclusive, Defendants.

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT STRYKER CORPORATION'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

LUCY H. KOH, District Judge.

Plaintiff Tanner Trosper ("Trosper") filed this putative class action against his former employers, Stryker Corporation ("Stryker") and Howmedica Osteonics Corporation ("Howmedica"), alleging that he had not been indemnified for employment-related expenses in violation of California Labor Code § 2802 and California's Unfair Competition Law (Bus. and Prof. Code § 17200 et seq. ) ("UCL"). Before the Court is Defendant Stryker's Motion for Summary Judgment. See ECF No. 34. Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), the Court finds this matter appropriate for resolution without oral argument and hereby VACATES the hearing on this Motion set for May 1, 2014, at 1:30 p.m. The Case Management Conference scheduled for May 1, 2014, at 1:30 p.m. remains as set. The Court, having considered the record in this case, applicable law, and parties' briefs, DENIES Stryker Corporation's Motion for Summary Judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

Trosper was employed by Howmedica as a Sales Representative from approximately November 2008[1] until May 2011. ECF No. 1, ¶ 9 (Complaint, hereinafter "Compl."). Trosper worked in the Stryker Craniomaxillofacial division ("Stryker CMF") of Howmedica. ECF No. 36-1 ("Trosper Depo.") at 52:12-15. Howmedica is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Stryker, and both corporations are in the business of manufacturing and marketing medical devices. Compl. ¶¶ 10-11; ECF No. 34-1 ¶ 4. In the Complaint, Trosper claims he incurred numerous expenses in the course of his employment and for the benefit of his employer, including costs associated with operating his personal vehicle and mobile phone; use of a fax machine, landlines, office space, office supplies, internet access, storage, entertainment; dining with clients; and travel expenses (such as airfare, lodging, and local transportation). Compl. ¶¶ 20-21.

Trosper alleges that during the Class Period[2] Stryker and Howmedica did not have a policy providing for the reimbursement of expenses to putative class employees, and Defendants' existing policy expressly prohibited employee reimbursement for business expenses. Id. ¶ 24. Trosper alleges that in February 2011 and October 2012, Defendants changed their policy to allow reimbursement of certain expenses to some employees. Id. ¶¶ 25-26. The putative class consists of "all person who have been, or currently are, employed by Defendants in California during the Class Period as Sales Representatives.'" Id. ¶ 1.

Trosper contends that Defendants' policy prohibiting expense reimbursement violated California Labor Code § 2802, which provides that "[a]n employer shall indemnify his or her employee for all necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee in direct consequence of the discharge of his or her duties." Id. ¶¶ 23, 39-40. Moreover, Trosper alleges that Defendants' policy constituted an "unfair" and "unlawful" business practice in violation of the UCL. Id. ¶¶ 45-48.

B. Procedural History

Trosper filed his Complaint against Howmedica and Stryker on February 12, 2013. ECF No. 1. Defendants answered on March 29, 2013, ECF No. 16. On October 28, 2013, the parties filed a joint statement indicating that they disagreed as to whether Stryker was a properly named defendant and that Defendants planned on filing a motion for summary judgment seeking to dismiss Stryker from the case. ECF No. 31. Stryker filed the instant motion on January 23, 2014, ECF No. 34 ("Mot."), and Trosper filed his opposition on February 6, 2014. ECF No. 35 ("Opp'n"). On February 13, 2014, Stryker filed a reply. ECF No. 36 ("Reply"). The parties also filed various declarations in support of their arguments. In support of its motion for summary judgment and its reply, Stryker filed the Michelle Shinevare Declaration, ECF No. 34-1 ("Shinevare Decl."), and the Soo Cho Declaration, ECF No. 36-1 ("Soo Cho Decl."). In support of Plaintiff's opposition, Plaintiff filed the Trosper Declaration, ECF No. 35-3 ("Trosper Decl."), and the Hanna Raanan Declaration, ECF No. 35-1 ("Raanan Decl.").

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate if, viewing the evidence and drawing all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, there are no genuine disputed issues of material fact, and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A fact is "material" if it "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law, " and a dispute as to a material fact is "genuine" if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable trier of fact to decide in favor of the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). "If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, " the court may grant summary judgment. Id. at 249-50 (citation omitted). At the summary judgment stage, the Court "does not assess credibility or weigh the evidence, but simply determines whether there is a genuine factual issue for trial." House v. Bell, 547 U.S. 518, 559-60 (2006).

The moving party has the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of fact for trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. To meet its burden, "the moving party must either produce evidence negating an essential element of the nonmoving party's claim or defense or show that the nonmoving party does not have enough evidence of an essential element to carry its ultimate burden of persuasion at trial." Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Fritz Companies, Inc., 210 F.3d 1099, 1102 (9th Cir. 2000) (citation omitted). Once the moving party has satisfied its initial burden of production, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to show that there is a genuine issue of material fact. Id. at 1103.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Stryker's Evidentiary Objections to ...


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