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Pitre v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

October 18, 2019





         Before the Court are three motions (the “Motions”): Defendant Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.'s (“Defendant” or “Wal-Mart”) Motion for Summary Judgment or, in the Alternative, for Summary Adjudication (“MSJ”) (Dkt. 62); Defendant's Motion to Decertify (Dkt. 63); and Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Adjudication of First Cause of Action (“MSA”) (Dkt. 72).[1] Having reviewed the papers submitted by Plaintiffs and Defendant, the Court finds that it must GRANT Defendant's Motion to Decertify and REMAND the action to the Superior Court of California, County of Orange. Accordingly, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Adjudication are both DENIED AS MOOT.

         I. Background

         This case arises from Defendant's job application process, and whether its background check procedures complied with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq., and the Investigative Consumer Reporting Agency Act (“ICRAA”), Cal. Civ. Code § 1786 et seq. (West 2019).

         A. Facts

         The following facts are drawn from Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) (Dkt. 51), the Responses and Supplemental Responses of Named Plaintiffs to Defendant's Interrogatories (“Pitre Interrog., ” “Wilson Interrog., ” and “Walters Interrog.”) (Dkt. 63-3, Exhibits 4, 5, and 6, respectively), and Defendant's Supplemental Responses to Plaintiffs' Special Interrogatories (“Wal-Mart Interrog.”) (Dkt. 72-13, Ex. 10).[2]

         Each of the Named Plaintiffs applied for a job at Wal-Mart, and each was subsequently hired: Pitre in November 2015, Wilson in December 2017, and Walters in February 2014. FAC ¶¶ 4-6. Defendant is a Delaware corporation doing business in the State of California. Id. ¶ 7. Plaintiffs allege that, while evaluating Plaintiffs for employment, Defendant procured credit and background reports about Plaintiffs in violation of the FCRA and ICRAA.[3] Id. ¶ 29. Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that Defendant ran afoul of the FCRA's disclosure requirements by willfully including extraneous information in disclosure forms, id. ¶¶ 34-35, and by inadequately informing Plaintiffs of their rights under the FCRA, id. ¶¶ 44-49. This same conduct, according to Plaintiffs, also violated the analogous provisions of the ICRAA. Id. ¶¶ 56-64. Based on Defendant's discovery responses, Plaintiffs claim that Wal-Mart procured background checks on approximately 6, 547, 400 job applicants using deficient disclosure forms in the relevant time period (between June 2012 and March 2019). Wal-Mart Interrog., Dkt. 72-13, Ex. 10 at 3-4.

         B. Procedural History

         Plaintiff Pitre filed his original Complaint in the Orange County Superior Court on June 20, 2017. The case was then removed to this Court, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss as to certain state law claims (Dkt. 13), which this Court granted on November 8, 2017 (Dkt. 26). On October 15, 2018, Plaintiff Pitre filed a Motion for Class Certification (Dkt. 34), and, in light of his health problems, also moved to add Plaintiffs Wilson and Walters as additional class representatives (Dkt. 33). The Court granted both motions on January 17, 2019 (Dkt. 47). The Class was defined as follows:

All of DEFENDANTS' current, former and prospective applicants for employment in the United States who applied for a job with DEFENDANTS at any time during the period for which a background check was performed beginning five years prior to the filing of this action and ending on the date that final judgment is entered in this action.

Dkt. 47 at 3. Named Plaintiffs filed their FAC on March 6, 2019, in which they brought the following three claims on behalf of themselves and the Class:

(1) failure to make proper disclosure in violation of the FCRA (15 U.S.C. § 1681b(b)(2)(A));
(2) failure to give proper summary of rights in violation of the FCRA (15 U.S.C. §§ 1681d(a)(1), 1681g(c)); and
(3) failure to make proper disclosure in violation of the ICRAA (Cal. Civ. Code § 1786 et seq.).

See generally FAC.

         On July 24, 2019, Defendant filed the instant MSJ and Motion to Decertify. Plaintiffs filed the instant MSA on July 25, 2019. Each of the three Motions was followed by Opposition and Reply briefs, the last of which was submitted on October 1, 2019.[4]

         II. Legal Standard

         A. Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment is proper if “the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Summary judgment is to be granted cautiously, with due respect for a party's right to have its factually grounded claims and defenses tried to a jury. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). A court must view the facts and draw inferences in the manner most favorable to the non-moving party. United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1992); Chevron Corp. v. Pennzoil Co., 974 F.2d 1156, 1161 (9th Cir. 1992). The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact for trial, but it need not disprove the other party's case. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. When the non-moving party bears the burden of proving the claim or defense, the moving party can meet its burden by pointing out that the non-moving party has failed to present any genuine issue of material fact as to an essential element of its case. See Musick v. Burke, 913 F.2d 1390, 1394 (9th Cir. 1990).

         Once the moving party meets its burden, the burden shifts to the opposing party to set out specific material facts showing a genuine issue for trial. See Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 248-49. A “material fact” is one which “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Id. at 248. A party cannot create a genuine issue of material fact simply by making assertions in its legal papers. S.A. Empresa de Viacao Aerea Rio Grandense v. Walter Kidde & Co., Inc., 690 F.2d 1235, 1238 (9th Cir. 1982). Rather, there must be specific, admissible evidence identifying the basis for the dispute. See Id. The Court need not “comb the record” looking for other evidence; it is only required to consider evidence set forth in the moving and opposing papers and the portions of the record cited therein. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3); Carmen v. S.F. Unified Sch. Dist., 237 F.3d 1026, 1029 (9th Cir. 2001). The Supreme Court has held that “[t]he mere existence of a scintilla of evidence . . . will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for [the opposing party].” Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 252.

         B. Standing

         Under Article III of the Constitution, the judicial power of the United States, vested in the federal courts, extends only to “Cases” and “Controversies.” U.S. Const. art. III, §§ 1-2. Because the Constitution does not precisely define the reach of this judicial power, courts have developed the doctrine of standing. While some aspects of standing doctrine are “merely prudential considerations, ” it also contains a “core component, ” the case-or-controversy requirement. Lujan v. Defs. of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560 (1992). To prevent “federal courts [from] exceed[ing] their authority, ” the law of Article III standing “confines the federal courts to a properly judicial role” by “limit[ing] the category of litigants empowered to maintain a lawsuit in federal court.” Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S.Ct. 1540, 1547 (2016) (citations omitted).

         This “irreducible constitutional minimum” has three requirements. First, the plaintiff must have suffered a concrete and particularized injury in fact, which must be actual or imminent, rather than speculative. Second, the injury must be fairly traceable to the defendant's alleged conduct. Third, the injury must be likely redressable by a favorable decision by the court. Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560-61 (1992). These requirements must be met for each claim the plaintiff brings, and ...

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