United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR EQUITABLE TOLLING
WILLIAM ALSUP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
putative wage-and-hour class action, plaintiff moves for
equitable tolling of his putative Fair Labor Standards Act
collective claims that were stayed by a previous order. For
the reasons stated below, plaintiff's motion is
October 2016, Plaintiff Wyatt Coppernoll filed this putative
wage-and-hour class action asserting claims under the Fair
Labor Standards Act, the California Labor Code, and the
California Business and Professions Code.
Hamcor, Inc., moved to stay the action and compel arbitration
pursuant to the arbitration sections of Coppernoll's job
application agreement and employment agreement with Hamcor. A
January 2017 order denied that motion, finding both parties
agreed the arbitration terms were unenforceable under
Morris v. Ernst & Young, 834 F.3d 975 (9th Cir.
2016), and the fact that our Supreme Court granted a writ of
certiorari did not change the law of our court of appeals for
the time being (Dkt. No. 41). The order limited the parties,
however, to individual discovery as to Coppernoll's
claims, rather than the putative class, pending the upcoming
review of Morris.
February 2017, the parties stipulated request to stay all
class and collective claims in the action was granted. The
order staying the claims required the parties to update the
undersigned on Morris by August 16, or when briefing
was completed, whichever came sooner.
now requests equitable tolling of the FLSA claims as of the
order staying class discovery, January 12, 2017, and until
the stay is lifted (Dkt. No. 56 at 2). Such an order would
preserve claims of putative class members whose claims would
otherwise be extinguished by the FLSA statute of limitations
while the stay is in place.
order follows full briefing and oral argument.
purposes of calculating the timeliness of a FLSA claim, the
statute of limitations is tolled for each putative class
member individually upon filing a written consent to
become a party plaintiff. 29 U.S.C. 256(b). This opt-in
standard differs from the opt-out standard in a Rule 23 class
action, where the statute of limitations is tolled for
all putative class members when the complaint is
filed. Thus, without equitable tolling, the statute of
limitations on a putative class member's FLSA claim
continues to run in the time between the filing of the
collective action complaint and the filing of their written
consent opting-in. See 29 U.S.C. 256; Woodard v.
FedEx Freight East, Inc., 250 F.R.D. 178, 194 (M.D. Pa.
Feb. 19, 2008) (Judge Thomas Vanaskie).
legal issue presented is whether a court-issued stay pending
our Supreme Court's review of controlling precedent
justifies equitably tolling the statute of limitations on
FLSA collective action claims. Our court of appeals has not
addressed the issue squarely, but it has provided guidance on
equitably tolling FLSA claims generally.[*]
FLSA statute of limitations is a procedural limitation that
may be tolled when equity warrants. See Partlow v. Jewish
Orphan's Home of Southern California, Inc., 645 F.2d
757, 761 (9th Cir. 1981) (abrogated on other grounds).
“Equitable tolling applies when the plaintiff is
prevented from asserting a claim by wrongful conduct on the
part of the defendant, or when extraordinary circumstances
beyond the plaintiff's control ma[ke] it impossible to
file a claim on time.” Stoll v. Runyon, 165
F.3d 1238, 1242 (9th Cir. 1999).
does not make this motion under the first standard, expressly
disclaiming making this motion based on wrongful conduct by
Hamcor (Dkt. No. 56 at 2). Coppernoll does not outright
acknowledge the second standard - that an extraordinary
circumstance beyond putative plaintiffs' control prevents
them from making a timely claim. Rather, he bases this motion
on the stay of FLSA proceedings in this action pending our
Supreme Court's disposition of Morris and
provides similar district court decisions that equitably
tolled FLSA claims pending California Supreme Court review of
relevant decisions. See Castle v. Wells Fargo Financial,
Inc., 2007 ...