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Bui v. Northrop Grumman Systems Corp.

United States District Court, S.D. California

June 12, 2017

ANH BUI, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
NORTHROP GRUMMAN SYSTEMS CORP., a Delaware Corporation, Defendant.

          ORDER

          WILLIAM Q. HAYES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The matter before the Court is the Motion to Stay filed by Defendant Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation (“Defendant”) (ECF No. 39).

         I. Background

         On April 14, 2015, Plaintiff Anh Bui commenced this action by filing the Class Action Complaint in San Diego County Superior Court. (ECF No. 1-3 at 6). On May 21, 2015, Plaintiff filed the First Amended Class Action Complaint (“FAC”), which is the operative complaint in this case. (ECF Nos. 1 at 2; 1-3 at 30). The FAC asserts (1) four California state-law wage and hour claims arising from Plaintiff's employment with Defendant; (2) a claim for violation of California Business & Professions Code section 17200, et seq.; and (3) a claim under California's Private Attorneys' General Act of 2004 (“PAGA”), seeking civil penalties for Defendant's alleged wage and hour violations. (ECF No. 1 at 3). On June 25, 2015, Defendant removed the action to this Court pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1441, 1446, and 1453. (ECF Nos. 1 at 2-3; 1-3 at 30-46).

         On July 2, 2015, Defendant filed a Motion to Compel Bilateral Arbitration and Stay Proceedings, or Alternatively, to Dismiss Under Rule 12(b)(3). (ECF No. 3). On August 10, 2015, Plaintiff filed a “non-opposition to Defendant's Motion to Compel Bilateral Arbitration of Plaintiff's Individual Claims except for her [PAGA] Claims.” (ECF No. 11 at 2). In the non-opposition, Plaintiff “agree[d] to dismiss her putative class and putative class claims without prejudice and submit her individual claims to arbitration.” Id. On December 10, 2015, the Court issued an order granting Defendant's Motion to Compel Bilateral Arbitration and Stay Proceedings. (ECF No. 20). The Court ordered that

pursuant to Plaintiff's request, Plaintiff's first through fifth putative class and class claims are dismissed without prejudice. (ECF No. 11 at 1). IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Motion to Compel Bilateral Arbitration and Stay Proceedings is granted (ECF No. 3). Pursuant to 9 U.S.C. § 4, the parties are directed to proceed to arbitration in accordance with the terms of the Arbitration Agreement with respect to all of Plaintiff's remaining claims. This litigation is stayed pending the outcome of the arbitration.

Id. at 15.

         On December 9, 2016, the Court issued an order granting Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration of the December 10, 2015 order. (ECF No. 36). The Court concluded that the “‘Class Action Claims' section of the Arbitration Agreement in this case is similarly restrictive of Plaintiff's ability to bring a concerted action against Defendant” to the clause ruled unenforceable by the Court of Appeals in Morris v. Ernst & Young LLP, 834 F.3d 975 (9th Cir. 2016). Id. at 7-8. In Morris, the Court of Appeals found that a concerted action waiver “violate[d] the NLRA [National Labor Relations Act] and cannot be enforced.” Id. (quoting Morris, 834 F.3d at 980). The Court ordered that the portion of its December 10, 2015 order stating that “pursuant to Plaintiff's request, Plaintiff's first through fifth putative class and class claims are dismissed without prejudice” was vacated. Id. at 8 (quoting ECF No. 20 at 15). The Court ordered the parties to submit a status report “as to how they intend to proceed on Plaintiff's first through fifth putative class and class claims.” Id. at 8.

         In two status reports, Defendant stated that it intended to file a motion to stay this action if the Supreme Court granted the petition for certiorari in Morris. (ECF Nos. 37 at 3; No. 38 at 3). On January 13, 2017, the Supreme Court granted the petition for a writ of certiorari in Morris. Ernst & Young, LLP v. Morris, 137 S.Ct. 809 (U.S. Jan. 13, 2017) (mem.).

         On February 6, 2017, Defendant filed the Motion to Stay. (ECF No. 39). On February 27, 2017, Plaintiff filed a response in opposition. (ECF No. 40). On March 6, 2017, Defendant filed a reply. (ECF No. 41).

         II. Contentions of the Parties

         Defendant contends that this Court should issue “a stay of all proceedings pending the Supreme Court's decision in Morris.” (ECF No. 39-1 at 5). Defendant contends that “the basis for Plaintiff's reconsideration motion and this Court's reconsideration order will disappear” and “Plaintiff will again be required to arbitrate her wage-and-hour and UCL claims on an individual basis, not litigate them in court on a putative classwide basis” if the Supreme Court reverses the Morris decision. Id. at 10. Defendant contends that it should not be required to litigate Plaintiff's class claims now “even though Morris may make clear later that Plaintiff was required to arbitrate her claims on a bilateral basis.” Id. at 10-11.

         Plaintiff contends that she will suffer prejudice if this action is stayed pending the Supreme Court's decision in Morris. Plaintiff contends that continued delays will halt her progress in finalizing discovery and will result in evidence being lost, and witnesses becoming either unavailable or forgetting pertinent facts relating to this action. Plaintiff contends that Defendant has not demonstrated it will suffer a hardship if this action is not stayed. Plaintiff contends this action should not be stayed because of “the uncertainty and the unknown duration” of the period when the Supreme Court will issue a ruling in Morris. (ECF No. 40 at 6).

         III. ...


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