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Bell v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. California

November 5, 2019

SANDY BELL, MARTIN GAMA, and MICHAEL GAMA, individually, and on behalf of others similarly situated, and as aggrieved employees pursuant to the Private Attorneys General Act “PAGA”, Plaintiffs,
v.
HOME DEPOT U.S.A., INC., a Delaware corporation; JOHN BROOKS, an individual; and DOES 1-10 inclusive, Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS'SUCCESSIVE MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          JOHN A. MENDEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Sandy Bell, Martin Gama, and Michael Henry (“Plaintiffs”) allege Defendants-Home Depot, U.S.A. and John Brooks, the regional manager for the Home Depot stores where Plaintiffs worked-violated California law by designing Home Depot's workday to evade overtime obligations. Since this case began, Defendants have filed four motions for summary judgment. Plaintiffs argue the Court should not adjudicate Defendants' most-recent motion because it raises arguments that either have already been adjudicated or are legally baseless. The Court agrees. For the reasons discussed below, the Court denies Defendants' successive motion for summary judgment.[1]

         I. BACKGROUND

         In 2012, Sandy Bell and Martin Gama brought a wage-and-hour class action in state court, alleging Defendants violated several provisions of the California Labor Code. Compl., ECF No. 2-3. Defendants removed the suit this Court, where it was ultimately consolidated with Henry v. Home Depot, U.S.A., a case transferred from the Northern District of California. See ECF No. 136.

         Over the past six years, Defendants have filed four motions for summary judgment. In September 2015, before Bell and Henry's cases were consolidated, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment in Henry's case. See, Henry v. Home Depot, U.S.A., No. 3:14-cv-04858-JST at ECF No. 29. Henry filed suit in the Northern District of California, alleging Defendants designed Home Depot's workday to avoid overtime obligations. Id. at ECF No. 1-2. Judge Tigar denied Defendants' motion for summary judgment on this claim, finding they failed to show, as a matter of law, that Home Depot's workday was not designed to evade overtime compensation. Henry v. Home Depot, U.S.A., No. 14-cv-04858-JST, 2016 WL 39719, at *4 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 4, 2016).

         The next month, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment in Bell's case. ECF No. 72. This Court granted Defendants' motion in all but one respect. Largely adopting the reasoning set forth in Judge Tigar's decision, this Court denied Defendants' motion on Plaintiffs' claim that Home Depot's workday was designed to evade overtime compensation. See Transcript for February 23, 2016 Hearing at 28:7-24, ECF No. 98.

         After the Court consolidated Bell and Henry's cases, Defendants filed a motion for summary adjudication on Plaintiffs' Section 203 and 226 claims. May 2017 Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 146. Section 203 and 226 levy penalties against employers who “willfully” fail to pay final wages (section 203) or “knowingly and intentionally” fail to provide proper wage statements (section 226). This Court granted Defendants' motion for summary adjudication in full. ECF No. 158.

         Following this series of motions, Plaintiffs' only remaining claim is that Defendants designed the Home Depot workday to evade overtime obligations. The current motion for summary judgment, ECF No. 173, maintains Defendants are entitled to judgment on that claim.

         II. OPINION

         A. Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 does not limit the number of motions for summary judgment a party may file. Hoffman v. Tonnemacher, 593 F.3d 908, 911 (9th Cir. 2010). Indeed allowing a party to file a successive motion for summary judgment is sometimes “logical[] and [] fosters the just, speedy, and inexpensive resolution of suits.” Id. at 911 (citing Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 1). This is particularly true when a successive motion is based on an “expanded factual record.” Id. Even so, courts must be “conscious of the potential for abuse of the procedure.” Id. For this reason, “district courts retain discretion to weed out frivolous or simply repetitive motions.” Id.

         B. Analysis

         Defendants argue the Court should adjudicate its successive motion for summary judgment because the motion (1) is based on an expanded record; and (2) proffers a new legal theory that would resolve the case in its entirety. Mot. at 6-7. Plaintiffs disagree, arguing the motion is premised on a baseless legal theory and facts ...


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