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Perez v. Valley Garlic, Inc.,

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 11, 2017

EDWARD C. HUGLER, Acting Secretary of Labor, United States Department of Labor Plaintiff,
VALLEY GARLIC, INC., dba SEQUOIA PACKING CO., a California Corporation; CHRISTIAN BARRERE MARRIONE, an individual; DAVID CLARK ANDERSON, an individual; X-TREME AG LABOR, INC., a California corporation; ISABELLA ALVAREZ CAMACHO, an individual; OFELIA RAMIREZ MORALES, an individual; and CESAR NERI, an individual, Defendants.


         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Edward C. Hugler is the Acting United States Secretary of Labor (the “Secretary”). He seeks reconsideration of the Court's order denying issuance of a preliminary injunction. The injunction that the Secretary seeks would enjoin Defendant Valley Garlic Inc.[1]from causing vehicles to be used to transport migrant and seasonal agricultural workers without ensuring the vehicle safety requirements of 29 U.S.C. § 1841 (“Section 1841”) are met. Doc. 34. After considering the Secretary's motion for preliminary injunction, the Court determined that the Secretary was not entitled to a presumption of irreparable injury and the Secretary's showing of irreparable injury was inadequate to carry his burden. The Secretary now (1) submits new evidence to support his claim of irreparable injury and (2) contends that the court erred[2] in failing to recognize that Valley Garlic's violation of the vehicle safety provisions of the Agricultural Workers Protection Act (“AWPA”) is likely to cause irreparable injury.

         For the following reasons, The Secretary's motion for reconsideration will be denied.[3]

         II. Background

         On February 27, 2017, this Court resolved the Secretary's second motion for preliminary injunction. The Court first found a likelihood of success on the merits of the Secretary's claim. The Court found that Valley Garlic employs the field workers recruited by its farm labor contractors (“FLCs”) within the meaning of the Agricultural Workers Protection Act, 29 U.S.C. § 1801, et seq. (“AWPA”). Doc. 41 at 7-19; see 29 U.S.C. § 1802(5). The Court also found that Valley Garlic knows that transportation by an FLC is a necessary element in recruitment of at least some of its workers and Valley Garlic has done nothing to preclude that transportation. Doc. 41 at 19-23. Valley Garlic conceded not having taken the safety measures required under Section 1841. The Court concluded that Valley Garlic is violating Section 1841 by causing to be used vehicles transportation of its agricultural employees by FLCs without implementing the safety measures required by Section 1841.

         To meet the irreparable injury prong, the Secretary relied primarily on a presumption of irreparable injury. The Court declined to apply such a presumption in light of the Supreme Court's prohibition of categorical rules governing the exercise of equitable jurisdiction without clear Congressional indication to the contrary. Doc. 41 at 27-29; Porter v. Warner Holding Co., 328 U.S. 395, 398 (1946); see Cottonwood Environmental Law Ctr. v. U.S. Forest Serv., 789 F.3d 1075, 1089-1090 (9th Cir. 2015). In making that determination, the Court considered the language, history, structure, and underlying policy of the AWPA to conclude that Congress did not intend to limit the Court's full consideration of equitable factors. Doc. 41 at 29-32. The Court concluded that, absent the presumption of irreparable harm, the Secretary's showing of irreparable harm was inadequate. On that basis it denied the Secretary's motion for preliminary injunction.

         III. Legal Standard

         A district court should not grant a motion for reconsideration “absent highly unusual circumstances.” McDowell v. Calderon, 197 F.3d 1253, 1255 (9th Cir. 1999) (citations omitted). Specifically, Local Rule 230(j) requires Plaintiff seeking reconsideration of an order to show “what new or different facts or circumstances are claimed to exist which did not exist or were not shown upon such prior motion, or what other grounds exist for the motion and … why the facts or circumstances were not shown at the time of the prior motion.” Local Rule 230(j) (E.D. Cal.); see Marlyn Nutraceuticals, Inc. v. Mucos Pharma GmbH & Co., 571 F.3d 873, 880 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotations marks and citations omitted) (“A motion for reconsideration should not be granted, absent highly unusual circumstances, unless the district court is presented with newly discovered evidence, committed clear error, or if there is an intervening change in the controlling law.”) Reconsideration is an “extraordinary remedy, ” to be used “sparingly as an equitable remedy to prevent manifest injustice.” Wood v. Ryan, 759 F.3d 1117, 1121 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting Kona Enters., Inc. v. Estate of Bishop, 229 F.3d 877, 890 (9th Cir. 2000)); Lal v. California, 610 F.3d 518, 524 (9th Cir. 2010). “A motion for reconsideration ‘may not be used to raise arguments or present evidence for the first time when they could reasonably have been raised earlier in the litigation.'” Marlyn Nutraceuticals, 571 F.3d at 880 (emphasis in original).

         “A party seeking reconsideration must show more than a disagreement with the Court's decision, and recapitulation ...” of that which was already considered by the Court in rendering its decision.” United States v. Westlands Water Dist., 134 F.Supp.2d 1111, 1131 (E.D. Cal. 2001); see Maraziti v. Thorpe, 52 F.3d 252, 255 (9th Cir. 1995) (A motion to reconsider is properly denied when it “merely reiterate[s] the arguments … already presented.”) To succeed, the new facts or law set forth must be of a strongly convincing nature to induce the court to reverse its prior decision. See Kern-Tulare Water Dist. v. City of Bakersfield, 634 F.Supp. 656, 665 (E.D. Cal. 1986) (affirmed in part and reversed in part on other grounds, 828 F.2d 514 (9th Cir. 1987)).

         III. Discussion

         As detailed in more depth below, the Secretary has submitted statistical and anecdotal evidence tending to suggest that use of unlicensed drivers and unsafe vehicles is endemic to the agriculture industry and that such practices are likely to result in catastrophic injury or death. The Court must consider whether the newly submitted evidence should change the irreparable injury determination and “why the facts or circumstances were not shown at the time of the prior motion.” Local Rule 230(j) (E.D. Cal.)

         A. Irreparable Injury

         In order to obtain preliminary injunctive relief a party must show (1) a likelihood of success on the merits; (2) a likelihood of irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief; (3) that the balance of equities tips in her favor; and (4) an injunction is in the public interest. Winter v. Nat. Resources Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008). All of the other considerations having been established, Doc. 41, this order focuses on the second prong. The mere possibility of irreparable harm is insufficient to justify an injunction. Herb Reed Enterprises, LLC v. Florida Entertainment Management, Inc., 736 F.3d 1239, 1249 (9th Cir. 2013). Instead, a party seeking a preliminary injunction must show irreparable harm is likely. Herb Reed Enterprises, 736 F.3d at 1249. The plaintiff must also show a “sufficient causal connection” between the alleged injury and the conduct the plaintiff seeks to enjoin such that the injunction would effectively minimize the risk of injury. Perfect 10, Inc. v. Google, Inc., 653 F.3d 976, 982 (9th Cir. 2011); accord Fox Broadcasting Co., Inc. v. Dish Network, LLC, 747 F.3d 1060, 1072-1073 (9th Cir. 2013) (The irreparable injury caused must “flow from” the violation to be enjoined.) The activity to be enjoined need not be the exclusive cause of the injury. M.R. v. Dreyfus, 697 F.3d 706, 728 (9th Cir. 2012).

         In order to establish irreparable injury, the Secretary must show that (1) Valley Garlic's agricultural workers are likely to be transported in by unlicensed drivers or in vehicles that fail to meet the Secretary's safety requirements under Section ...

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