United States District Court, E.D. California
TITA RODAS, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, and on behalf of the general public, Plaintiff,
MONETARY MANAGEMENT OF CALIFORNIA, INC., a Delaware Corporation, and DOES 1 through 10, inclusive, Defendants.
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STRIKE
TROY L. NUNLEY, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court pursuant to Defendant Monetary Management of California, Inc.'s ("Defendant") Motion to Strike Class and Representative Allegations from Plaintiff's Complaint or, in the Alternative, Exclude Certain Class Members from the Action ("Motion to Strike"). (Mot. to Strike, ECF No. 9.) Plaintiff Tita Rodas ("Plaintiff") has filed an opposition to Defendant's Motion. (Pl.'s Opp'n to Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 12.) The Court has carefully considered the arguments raised in Defendant's Motion and Reply as well as Plaintiff's Opposition. For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES Defendant's Motion to Strike.
Plaintiff filed a putative class action against her previous employer Monetary Management of California, Inc., on behalf of herself, all others similarly situated, and the general public in California Superior Court, San Joaquin County on May 6, 2014. (Compl., ECF No. 1-2, Ex. A.) Plaintiff's Complaint states that she was employed by Defendant during 2014. (ECF No. 1-2, Ex. A at ¶ 7.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant failed to pay her and all others similarly situated for all overtime wages; failed to provide rest periods, meal periods, or compensation thereof; failed to comply with itemized employee wage statement provisions; failed to timely pay wages due at separation of employment; and failed to pay all accrued but unused paid time off and vacation wages at separation. (ECF No. 1-2, Ex. A.) Plaintiff alleges violations of the California Labor Code and California Business and Professions Code Section 17200 et seq, and Plaintiff seeks recovery as part of a class action under California Code of Civil Procedure Section 382. (ECF No. 1-2, Ex. A at ¶ 13.) Plaintiff further asserts that this is a Representative Private Attorney General Action and Class Action for Unfair Business Practices ("PAGA") and seeks to enforce "important rights affecting the public interest" within the meaning of California Code of Civil Procedure § 1021.5. (ECF No. 1-2, Ex. A at ¶ 51.) Defendant filed a Notice of Removal on June 10, 2014 pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 ("CAFA"). (ECF No. 1.)
Plaintiff seeks to represent three classes. (ECF No. 1-2, Ex. A at ¶ 13.) Plaintiff defines the first class as "[a]ll current and former non-exempt California employees of [Defendant] who worked overtime and earned a bonus or commission during the same pay period since the date four  years preceding the filing of this Action." (ECF No. 1-2, Ex. A at ¶ 13.) Plaintiff defines the second class as "[a]ll current and former non-exempt California employees of [Defendant] since the date four  years preceding the filing of this Action. (ECF No. 1-2, Ex. A at ¶ 14.) Plaintiff defines the third class as "[a]ll former California employees of [Defendant] who separated their employment with Defendant on or after the date three  years preceding the filing of this Action." (ECF No. 1-2, Ex. A at ¶ 15.)
Defendant contends that the overwhelming majority of the potential putative class members entered into arbitration agreements with Defendant and must resolve their disputes with Defendant through arbitration. (ECF No. 9 at 7.) Thus, Defendant moves the Court to strike the class representative allegations from the Complaint, or in the alternative, exclude the signatories to the Arbitration Agreements from the class, pursuant to Rule 12(f) and Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (ECF No. 9 at 2.)
II. STANDARD OF LAW
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f) permits the Court to "strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f). "Redundant allegations are those that are needlessly repetitive or wholly foreign to the issues involved in the action." Olney v. Job.Com, Inc., No. 1:12-CV-01724-LJO-SKO, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 141339, at *7-8 (E.D. Cal. Sept. 30, 2013) (citing Cal. Dept. of Toxic Substances Control v. Alco Pacific, Inc., 217 F.Supp.2d 1028, 1033 (C.D. Cal. 2002)). Immaterial matter is "that which has no essential or important relationship to the claim for relief or the defenses being pleaded." Fantasy, Inc. v. Fogerty, 984 F.2d 1524, 1527 (9th Cir. 1993) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted), rev'd on other grounds, 510 U.S. 517 (1994).
Federal Rule of Procedure 12(f) states that when the Court strikes material from a pleading, the Court "may act: (1) on its own; or (2) on motion made by a party either before responding to the pleading or, if a response is not allowed, within 21 days after being served with the pleading."
The function of a Rule 12(f) motion is "to avoid the expenditure of time and money that must arise from litigating spurious issues by dispensing with those issues prior to trial." Whittlestone, Inc. v. Handi-Craft Co., 618 F.3d 970, 973 (9th Cir. 2010). "Motions to strike are generally regarded with disfavor because of the limited importance of pleading in federal practice, and because they are often used as a delaying tactic." Alco Pacific, 217 F.Supp.2d at 1033; see also Neveu v. City of Fresno, 392 F.Supp.2d 1159, 1170 (E.D. Cal. 2005) (Motions to strike are generally disfavored and "should not be granted unless it is clear that the matter to be stricken could have no possible bearing on the subject matter of the litigation."). "Given their disfavored status, courts often require a showing of prejudice by the moving party before granting the requested relief." Alco Pacific, 217 F.Supp.2d at 1033 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). "The possibility that issues will be unnecessarily complicated or that superfluous pleadings will cause the trier of fact to draw unwarranted' inferences at trial is the type of prejudice that is sufficient to support the granting of a motion to strike." Id. (citing Fogerty, 984 F.2d at 1528).
Regarding class certification, the Supreme Court has observed that "[s]ometimes the issues are plain enough from the pleadings to determine whether the interests of the absent parties are fairly encompassed within the named plaintiff's claim, and sometimes it may be necessary for the court to probe behind the pleadings before coming to rest on the certification question." Gen. Tel. Co. of Sw. v. Falcon, 457 U.S. 147, 160 (1982); see also Olney, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 141339, at *9-10. "Where the complaint demonstrates that a class action cannot be maintained on the facts alleged, courts have granted motions to strike class allegations." Olney, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 141339, at *10; see also Sanders v. Apple Inc., 672 F.Supp.2d 978, 990-91 (N.D. Cal. 2009) (granting motion to strike with leave to amend to define a narrower class); Hovsepian v. Apple, Inc., No. 08-5788 JF (PVT), 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117562, at *19 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 17, 2009) (same). "However, motions to strike class allegations are disfavored because a motion for class certification is a more appropriate vehicle for arguments pertaining to class allegations." Olney, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 141339, at *10; see also Thorpe v. Abbott Labs., Inc., 534 F.Supp.2d 1120, 1125 (N.D. Cal. 2008); Kazemi v. Payless Shoesource Inc., 2010 WL 963225, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27666, at *5 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 16, 2010).
Defendant moves the Court to strike the class representative allegations from Plaintiff's Complaint, or in the alternative, exclude the signatories to the Arbitration Agreements from the class, pursuant to Rule 12(f) and Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (ECF No. 9 at 2.) Defendant contends that the overwhelming majority of the putative class members entered into Arbitration Agreements with Defendant and thus must resolve their disputes with Defendant through arbitration. (ECF No. 9 at 7.) Defendant contends that striking Plaintiff's class allegations at this stage would eliminate redundancy and allow the Court to focus on the substantive merits of Plaintiff's allegations. (ECF No. 13 at 12.) Defendant, however, acknowledges that courts are disinclined to strike allegations at an early juncture. (ECF No. 9 at 7.)
Plaintiff argues that Defendant's Motion is premature. (ECF No. 12 at 7 & 9.) Plaintiff argues that the Pretrial Scheduling Order (ECF No. 8) explicitly prohibits discovery to address merits issues on behalf of putative class members until after the Court has ruled on Plaintiff's motion for class certification. (ECF No. 12 at 9.) Thus, Plaintiff asserts that analysis of the Arbitration Agreements is a merits issue and the Court should reserve its ruling. (ECF No. 12 at 9.) Plaintiff has ...