United States District Court, E.D. California
KOUROSH KENNETH HAMIDI, et al., AND THE CLASS THEY SEEK TO REPRESENT, Plaintiffs,
SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION LOCAL 1000, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT, MOTION TO DECERTIFY THE CLASS, AND MOTION TO AMEND
CLASS CERTIFICATION ORDER
WILLIAM B. SHUBB UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Kourosh Kenneth Hamidi et al., and the class they represent
(“the Employees”), brought this class action
against defendants Service Employees International Union
Local 1000 (“Local 1000”) and the California
state controller,  alleging that Local 1000's
‘opt-out' system for collecting optional union fees
violates the Employees' First Amendment rights. In light
of the Supreme Court's recent decision in Janus v.
AFSCME, Council 31, 138 S.Ct. 2448 (2018), requiring
employees' affirmative consent prior to any collection of
union fees, the court is now presented with the parties'
cross-motions for summary judgment, defendant's motion to
decertify the class, and plaintiffs' motion to amend the
class certification order.
Factual and Procedural Background
27, 2018, the Supreme Court decided Janus and held that
payment to a union may not be collected from an employee
without the employee's affirmative consent. 138 S.Ct. at
2486. The decision overruled Abood v. Detroit Board of
Education, 431 U.S. 209 (1977), and its progeny, which
established that unions may require nonmembers to pay a fee
to the union that would be used to fund expenditures germane
to collective bargaining.
are employees of the State of California. (Local 1000 Resp.
to Statement of Undisputed Material Facts
(“SUMF”) at 7, ¶ 6 (Docket No. 152-1).)
Local 1000 is the exclusive representative for collective
bargaining purposes of plaintiffs and other state employees.
(Id. at 8, ¶ 8).
Janus, employees represented by Local 1000 could either join
the union as dues-paying members (id. at 11, ¶ 12) or
remain nonmembers and pay Local 1000 a ‘fair share'
fee. (Id. at II, ¶ 12). Nonmembers could choose
to pay the “full” fair share fee, which Local
1000 used to fund expenditures both germane and not germane
to collective bargaining, or a “reduced” fair
share fee, which defendant used to fund only expenditures
that were germane to collective bargaining. (See Decl. of
Brian Calderia (“Caldeira Decl.” ¶ 3 (Docket
No. 37).) Non-germane expenditures, also known as
non-chargeable expenditures, included, for example,
contributions to “political or ideological causes only
incidentally related to the terms and conditions of
employment.” (Local 1000 Resp. to SUMF at 12, ¶ 13
(Docket No. 152-1)).
that pre-Janus system, in deciding whether to charge a
nonmember the full or reduced fair share fee, Local 1000 had,
with the state's authorization and assistance,
implemented an ‘opt-out' system. (Id. at
3-4, ¶ 1). Prior to each annual fee cycle, Local 1000
sent nonmembers, a notice (“Hudson notice”)
informing them that they will be charged the full fair share
fee for the upcoming cycle unless they opt out by sending
back a written statement stating that they wish to be charged
only the reduced fair share fee. (Local 1000 Resp. to SUMF at
11-12, ¶ 13.) Employees who did not object were charged
the full fair share fee. (Pls.' Mot. in Sup. Summ. J. at
3-4 (Docket No. 149-1).) The day after Janus was decided, the
California State Controller's Office cancelled the
deduction of agency fees from all nonconsenting public
employees. (See June 18, 2019 Order at 5 (Docket No. 139).)
January 31, 2014, plaintiffs brought this action under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that Local 1000's fee
collection system violated nonmembers' First and
Fourteenth Amendment rights. (Compl. at 1-2, ¶ 1 (Docket
No. 1).) This court first certified plaintiff's cause of
action for class treatment to the extent it is brought as a
facial challenge to the constitutionality of Local 1000's
opt-out requirement and procedure. (See May 22, 2015 Order at
3 n.3, 20 (Docket No. 53).) Then, evaluating Local 1000's
fee collection system under pre-Janus precedent, this court
granted summary judgment in favor of defendants and denied
plaintiffs' challenge to the constitutionality of Local
1000's opt-out requirement. (See Feb. 8, 2017 Order at
14, 18 (Docket No. 94).) After the Court decided Janus, this
court dismissed as moot plaintiffs' claims for
declaratory and injunctive relief. (See June 18, 2019 Order
at 16 (Docket No. 139).) Plaintiff's “sole
remaining claim” is “for retrospective monetary
relief.” (Joint Status Report at 1 (Docket No. 143).)
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment
seeks repayment of all fees -- both germane and non-germane
to collective bargaining -- collected from nonmembers prior
to the Court's decision in Janus. (Pls.' Mot. in
Supp. Summ. J. at 46 (Docket No. 149-1).) Defendant does not
contest that Local 1000's opt-out system to collect
agency fees from nonmembers violates nonmembers' First
Amendment rights under Janus. Defendant instead asserts a
good faith defense to § 1983 liability because the law
at the time of Local 1000's collection of agency fees
permitted such a system. This court agrees that such a
defense applies here.
Section 1983 Good-Faith Defense
Wyatt v. Cole, the Supreme Court did not foreclose
“the possibility that private defendants faced with
§ 1983 liability . . . could be entitled to an
affirmative defense based on good faith.” Wyatt v.
Cole, 504 U.S. 158, 169 (1992); see also Richardson
v. McKnight, 521 U.S. 399, 413-14 (1997) (“Wyatt
explicitly stated that it did not decide whether or not the
private defendants before it might assert, not immunity, but
a special ‘good-faith' defense . . . we do not
express a view on this last-mentioned question.”).
Supreme Court in Janus “itself did not specify whether
the plaintiff was entitled to retrospective monetary relief
for conduct the Supreme Court had authorized for the previous
forty years.” Cooley v. California Statewide Law
Enf't Ass'n, 385 F.Supp.3d 1077, 1081 (E.D. Cal.
2019) (citing Janus, 138 S.Ct. at 2486). The controlling law
in the Ninth Circuit, however, recognizes a good faith
defense in shielding private defendants from liability in
§ 1983 actions. In Clement v. City of Glendale,
the Ninth Circuit granted summary judgment in favor of
defendant -- a towing company -- as to the plaintiff's
§ 1983 claim because the defendant “did its best
to follow the law” in that “the tow was
authorized by the police department, conducted under close
police supervision and appeared to be permissible under both
local ordinance and state law.” 518 F.3d 1090, 1097
(9th Cir. 2008). Since Clement, “[t]he threshold
question of whether the good faith defense is available to
private parties in § 1983 actions has been answered
affirmatively by the Ninth Circuit.” Cook v.
Brown, 364 F.Supp.3d 1184, 1190 (D. Or. 2019).
Application of ...