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Barker v. U.S. Bancorp

United States District Court, S.D. California

June 16, 2017

ELIZABETH BARKER and YADIRA ESQUEDA, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
U.S. BANCORP Defendants.


          Hon. Cathy Ann Bencivengo United States District Judge.

         Order This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' motion for class certification. The motion has been fully briefed, and the Court deems it suitable for submission without oral argument. Accordingly, the motion of Defendant U.S. Bancorp (“USB”) [Doc. No. 66] for oral argument is denied. As discussed below, Plaintiffs' motion for class certification is denied as well.

         I. Background

         USB operates bank branches located within grocery stores in California. Plaintiffs Elizabeth Barker and Yadira Esqueda are former In-Store Branch Managers (“IBMs”) at these in-store banking locations. USB classified Plaintiffs and other IBMs as exempt employees, meaning that were not paid overtime. Plaintiffs allege that their exempt classification was improper because they spent more than half of their time performing non-managerial duties similar to those of a “Universal Banker, ” which is a non-exempt position.

         In the operative first amended complaint (“FAC”), Plaintiffs sought to represent a Rule 23 class consisting of “all persons currently or formerly employed by USB in California as an [IBM] or any other similar position at any time since four years preceding the filing of this complaint.” [Doc. No. 20 at ¶ 16A.] The FAC asserts two claims under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) which are not relevant to this motion, as well as various claims on behalf of the putative Rule 23 class for California labor code violations attributable to USB's alleged misclassification of IBMs as exempt employees. Plaintiffs now move for certification of a Rule 23 class.

         II. Legal Standard for Class Certification

         “The class action is an exception to the usual rule that litigation is conducted by and on behalf of the individual named parties only.” Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 564 U.S. 338, 348 (2011) (internal quotation marks omitted). “Parties seeking class certification must satisfy each of the four requirements of [Federal Rule of Civil Procedure] 23(a) . . . and at least one of the requirements of Rule 23(b).” Briseno v. ConAgra Foods, Inc., 844 F.3d 1121, 1124 (9th Cir. 2017). “Rule 23(a) states four threshold requirements applicable to all class actions: (1) numerosity (a class so large that joinder of all members is impracticable); (2) commonality (questions of law or fact common to the class); (3) typicality (named parties' claims or defenses are typical of the class); and (4) adequacy of representation (representatives will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class). Amchem Prods, Inc. v. Windsor, 521 U.S. 591, 613 (1997) (internal quotation marks, brackets, and ellipses omitted). In considering class certification, district courts must engage in “a rigorous analysis” to determine whether “the prerequisites of Rule 23(a) have been satisfied.” Dukes, 564 U.S. at 350-51 (citing Gen. Tel. Co. of the Sw. v. Falcon, 457 U.S. 147, 161 (1982)).

         Plaintiffs here contend that in addition to satisfying these four Rule 23(a) requirements, class certification is warranted under Rule 23(b)(3). Rule 23(b)(3) “requires that common questions of law or fact found under Rule 23(a)(2) ‘predominate over any questions affecting only individual members, and that a class action is superior to other available methods for fairly and efficiently adjudicating the controversy.'” Torres v. Mercer Canyons Inc., 835 F.3d 1125, 1132 (9th Cir. 2016) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(3)). “For purposes of [the predominance] analysis, an individual question is one where members of a proposed class will need to present evidence that varies from member to member, while a common question is one where the same evidence will suffice for each member to make a prima facie showing or the issue is susceptible to generalized, class-wide proof.” Id. at 1134 (citing Tyson Foods v. Bouaphakeo, 136 S.Ct. 1036, 1045 (2016)) (internal quotation marks and brackets omitted). “What matters to class certification is not the raising of common ‘questions'-even in droves-but, rather the capacity of a classwide proceeding to generate common answers apt to drive the resolution of the litigation.” Id. at 1133 (quoting Dukes, 564 U.S. at 350) (emphasis in original; internal ellipses omitted).

         III. Discussion

         In their motion, Plaintiffs propose the following class definition, which they claim is a narrower class than the class defined in the FAC:

         All current and former U.S. Bank In-Store Branch Managers who, at any time since July 23, 2011, were: (1) employed in California; (2) classified as exempt from overtime; and (3) for at least one workweek, spending [sic] over 50% of their time performing the same duties as non-exempt In-Store Bankers:

(a) Being accountable for sales and service activities for in-store branch locations;
(b) Proactively seeking new customers through in-store marketing and ...

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