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Heredia v. Eddie Bauer LLC

United States District Court, N.D. California

April 10, 2017

STEPHANIE HEREDIA, Plaintiff,
v.
EDDIE BAUER LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER ON DISCOVERY DISPUTE JOINT REPORT RE DISCOVERY OF CONTACT INFORMATION FOR PUTATIVE CLASS MEMBERS RE: DKT. NO. 21

          SUSAN VAN KEULEN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the Court is the parties' joint report concerning a dispute over Plaintiff's request for discovery of contact information for all putative class members. ECF 21. After consideration of the joint report, relevant legal authority, and good cause appearing, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's request on the terms and conditions set forth below.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff alleges that she was employed by Defendant Eddie Bauer LLC at a retail store in Gilroy, California. Complaint, ECF 1-1, at ¶ 8. Plaintiff alleges that she was required to undergo security checks after she clocked out of work, as well as after she clocked out to take 30-minute meal breaks and 10-minute rest breaks, but that she was not paid any applicable minimum wages and/or overtime for these security checks. See id. at ¶ 18. Plaintiff alleges violations of California Labor Code §§ 226, 226.7, 510, 512, 558, 1194, 1197, 1197.1, and 2698 et seq. and California's Unfair Competition Law, Business and Professions Code § 17200 et seq. Id. at ¶ 9. Plaintiff seeks to bring these claims on behalf of a class of all non-exempt retail store employees who were employed by Defendants in the State of California at any time from September 28, 2012, through the present. Id. at ¶ 17.

         Defendant denies Plaintiff's allegations and denies that this case should proceed as a class action. See Joint CMC Statement, ECF 16, at 2. Defendant admits that it has an “exit inspection policy” under which “[n]on-exempt store associates have their bags, packages, briefcases, backpacks and other parcels inspected by a member of store management whenever they leave the store.” Id. Defendant argues, however, that “[e]mployees may not be subject to a bag check or exit inspection if they do not have a bag or other container when leaving the store.” Id.; see also ECF 21 at 4. Defendant also claims that any exit inspections are not compensable because they are de minimis. ECF 16 at 2.

         A. Legal Standards

         A member of a class may sue on behalf of all class members only if: “(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable; (2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class; (3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class; and (4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a).

         The availability and scope of pre-certification discovery lie within the discretion of the Court. Vinole v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 571 F.3d 935, 942 (9th Cir. 2009). The Ninth Circuit has held that it is not an abuse of discretion to deny pre-certification discovery where the plaintiff does not either make a prima facie showing that the Rule 23 class action requirements are satisfied or show “that discovery is likely to produce substantiation of the class allegations.” Mantolete v. Bolger, 767 F.2d 1416, 1424 (9th Cir. 1985). The Ninth Circuit, however, has also noted that “the better and more advisable practice for a District Court to follow is to afford the litigants an opportunity to present evidence as to whether a class action is maintainable.” Vinole, 571 F.3d at 942 (quoting Doninger v. Pac. Northwest Bell, Inc., 564 F.2d 1304, 1313 (9th Cir. 1977)).

         B. Discussion

         1. Contact information for putative class members

         To the extent such a showing is required before pre-certification discovery is allowed, the Court finds that Plaintiff has made a prima facie showing that the class action requirements of Rule 23 are met and that, even if she had not, the limited discovery she seeks may substantiate her class certification allegations.

         Courts often rely on the plaintiff's reasonable allegations for concluding that the plaintiff has made a prima facie showing. Barerras v. Michaels Stores, Inc., No. C 12-4474 (PJH), 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54166, at *9-10 (N.D. Cal. April 24, 2015). Here, Plaintiff alleges that (1) the class, i.e., all non-exempt retail store employees who were employed by Defendants in the State of California at any time from September 28, 2012, through the present, is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable; (2) there are questions of law or fact concerning Defendant's alleged policies and practices for payment of wages, provision of breaks, and provision of payroll records that are common to the class; (3) the claims or defenses of Plaintiff are typical of the claims or defenses of the class; and (4) Plaintiff will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class. ECF 1-1 at ¶¶ 17-30. These allegations establish a prima facie showing that the class action requirements of Rule 23 are met.

         The Court also concludes that the discovery Plaintiff seeks-the contact information for all putative class members-is necessary to her class certification motion. Disclosure of putative class members' contact information “is a common practice in the class action context.” Rodriguez v. Nike Retail Servs., Inc., No. 5:14-cv-01508-BLF (HRL), 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56377, at *4 (N.D. Cal. April 29, 2015) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted), motion for relief from non-dispositive order denied at ECF 43; see also Bell v. Delta Air Lines, Inc., No. C13-01199YGR (LB), 2014 WL 985829, at *3 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 7, 2014) (collecting cases).

         Defendant does not dispute that Plaintiff is entitled to discovery of contact information for putative class members who were employed during the relevant time period at the same store in Gilroy, California where Plaintiff worked. The parties' present dispute is instead over whether Plaintiff is entitled to obtain contact information for all of Defendant's California employees during the relevant time period. Defendant's main arguments are that (1) its security inspections do not impact all employees because employees who leave a store without carrying any bags are not ...


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