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Brazil v. Dole Packaged Foods, LLC

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

June 16, 2014

CHAD BRAZIL, an individual, on his own behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,


LUCY H. KOH, District Judge.

On May 30, 2014, this Court issued an order granting in part and denying in part Plaintiff Chad Brazil's ("Brazil") motion for class certification. ("Class Cert. Order") ECF No. 142. Defendant Dole Packaged Foods, LLC ("Dole") now moves for leave to file a motion for reconsideration of the Court's class certification order under Civil Local Rule 7-9. ("Mot.") ECF No. 145 at vi. In the alternative, Dole requests either that the Court undertake a " Daubert " review of the methodology of Brazil's damages expert, Dr. Oral Capps, or that the Court certify its class certification order for interlocutory review under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b). Id. For the reasons discussed below, Dole's Motion for Leave to File is DENIED. Dole's requests for a Daubert review and certification under Section 1292(b) are also DENIED.


A. Motion for Reconsideration

Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-9(a), "[b]efore the entry of a judgment adjudicating all of the claims and the rights and liabilities of all the parties in a case, any party may make a motion before a Judge requesting that the Judge grant the party leave to file a motion for reconsideration of any interlocutory order.... No party may notice a motion for reconsideration without first obtaining leave of Court to file the motion." Civil Local Rule 7-9(b) provides three grounds for reconsideration of an interlocutory order:

(1) That at the time of the motion for leave, a material difference in fact or law exists from that which was presented to the Court before entry of the interlocutory order for which reconsideration is sought. The party also must show that in the exercise of reasonable diligence the party applying for reconsideration did not know such fact or law at the time of the interlocutory order; or
(2) The emergence of new material facts or a change of law occurring after the time of such order; or
(3) A manifest failure by the Court to consider material facts or dispositive legal arguments which were presented to the Court before such interlocutory order.

Rule 7-9(c) further requires that "[n]o motion for leave to file a motion for reconsideration may repeat any oral or written argument made by the applying party in support of or in opposition to the interlocutory order which the party now seeks to have reconsidered."

Dole contends that reconsideration is warranted for two reasons. First, Dole asserts that the California Supreme Court's recent decision in Duran v. U.S. Bank National Ass'n, ___ Cal.4th ___, No. S200923, 2014 WL 2219042 (May 29, 2014), changed the legal standard for certifying a class in cases alleging violations of California's Unfair Competition Law ("UCL"), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17200 et seq. Mot. at 1. Second, Dole asserts that the Court's decision to certify a Rule 23(b)(3) damages class rests on incorrect factual assumptions about the damages model proposed by Dr. Capps. Id. at 1-2. The Court addresses each contention in turn.

1. Duran

Dole argues that Duran, a decision issued one day before this Court's class certification order, is a "paradigm-shifting decision" that fundamentally alters the class certification standards that govern this case. Mot. at 1. The Court disagrees. As an initial matter, to the extent Duran discusses the procedural requirements-such as the necessity of developing a manageable trial plan, see Duran, 2014 WL 2219042 at *15-16-governing class actions proceeding in California state court, the Court notes that class action procedure in federal court is governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. See, e.g., In re First Alliance Mortg. Co., 471 F.3d 977, 992 (9th Cir. 2006). More importantly, most, if not all, of the discussion in Duran has no relevance to this case. The class action at issue in Duran was a wage and hour suit in which the plaintiffs challenged their classification as exempt employees under the California Labor Code's "outside salesperson" exemption. See Duran, 2014 WL 2219042 at *1. Although the plaintiffs' claim was technically brought under the UCL, see id. at *3, the California Supreme Court's opinion focuses entirely on the substantive labor law underlying the alleged UCL violation.[1] Indeed, Duran mentions the UCL only twice: once, in discussing the procedural history of the case, see id. at *3, and again in a footnote, see id. at *22 n.35. As should go without saying, the substantive law governing California's outside salesperson exemption is very different from the substantive law governing Brazil's UCL misrepresentation claims in this case.[2] For this reason alone, the Court questions whether Duran has any bearing at all on the substantive legal questions in this case.

In any event, to the extent Duran has any relevance to the instant litigation, this Court's class certification order is consistent with Duran. Dole emphasizes that Duran prohibits class certification where a defendant has no liability toward a significant portion of the class. See Mot. at 7-8. True enough. Nevertheless, the class certified in this case avoids that pitfall. Dole asserts that its liability for allegedly misleading consumers based on "All Natural" statements appearing on Dole's product labels hinges on whether individual class members relied on and were misled by these label statements, see id. at 10-11, but this is simply not the case. Instead, liability in a UCL misrepresentation case turns on whether the defendant's misrepresentations are misleading to reasonable consumers, see, e.g., Cel-Tech, 20 Cal.4th at 180, and the California Supreme Court has held that "relief under the UCL is available without individualized proof of deception, reliance and injury, " In re Tobacco II Cases, 46 Cal.4th 298, 320 (2009).[3] Because Dole's liability toward the class does not require proof that individual class members relied on the allegedly unlawful and misleading "All ...

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