United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION [DKT.
50]; ORDER GRANTING JOINT MOTIONS TO SEAL
[DKTS. 48, 84]
Honorable Larry Alan Burns Chief United States District Judge
before the Court is Plaintiff Raymond Ramirez's Motion
for Class Certification. For the reasons below, that motion
is granted in part and denied in part.
GEO Group and its subsidiaries own and operate private
prisons throughout the United States. From 2000 until 2017,
Plaintiff Raymond Ramirez served as a corrections officer at
the Western Region Detention Facility (“the
Facility”) in San Diego. The Facility is owned by GEO
Group subsidiary GEO Corrections and Detentions, LLC
(collectively, “GEO”) and houses between 700 and
770 federal detainees awaiting trial, sentencing, or a
hearing. At issue in this case are Ramirez's allegations
that GEO violated various provisions of California labor law
by, among other things, failing to provide adequate meal and
rest breaks, failing to reimburse employees for job-related
expenses, and improperly rounding employee time.
on these and other alleged violations of California law,
Ramirez brought this suit in San Diego County Superior Court
in August 2018. GEO timely removed the case to this Court,
and Ramirez now seeks class certification. Ramirez originally
purported to represent all correctional officers
employed by GEO in California, but now limits the putative
class to only those correctional officers employed by GEO at
the San Diego Facility from August 9, 2014 to present. GEO
opposes Ramirez's motion, arguing that its policies do
not violate California law and that Ramirez cannot meet the
requirements for class certification.
Class Certification Generally
party seeking class certification must satisfy the
requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a) and the requirements of at
least one of the categories under Rule 23(b).” Wang
v. Chinese Daily News, 737 F.3d 538, 542 (9th Cir.
four requirements of Rule 23(a) are:
(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is
impracticable; (2) there are questions of law or fact common
to the class; (3) the claims or defenses of the
representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses
of the class; and (4) the representative parties will fairly
and adequately protect the interests of the class.
are commonly referred to as the numerosity, commonality,
typicality, and adequacy requirements. The Court must perform
“a rigorous analysis [to ensure] that the prerequisites
of Rule 23(a) have been satisfied.” Wal-Mart Stores
v. Dukes, 564 U.S. 338, 345 (2011). Ramirez seeks
certification under Rule 23(b)(3), which contains two
additional requirements: (1) that common questions
predominate over individualized ones and (2) that a class
action is the superior mechanism for dispute resolution.
determining the propriety of a class action, the question is
not whether the plaintiff has stated a cause of action or
will prevail on the merits, but rather whether the
requirements of Rule 23 are met.” Eisen v. Carlisle
& Jacquelin, 417 U.S. 156, 178 (1974). The Court
considers the merits of the underlying claims to the extent
they overlap with the Rule 23(a) analysis, but it does not
determine whether Ramirez actually could prevail on those
claims. See Ellis v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 657
F.3d 970, 983 n.8 (9th Cir. 2011).
Court must generally accept the substantive allegations made
in the complaint as true, but it must also consider the
nature and range of proof necessary to establish those
allegations. See In re Petroleum Prods. Antitrust
Litig., 691 F.2d 1335, 1342 (9th Cir. 1982). “In
addition, the court may consider supplemental evidentiary
submissions of the parties.” Keilholtz v. Lennox
Hearth Products Inc., 268 F.R.D. 330, 335 (N.D. Cal.
2010). “Neither the possibility that a plaintiff will
be unable to prove his allegations, nor the possibility that
the later course of the suit might unforeseeably prove the
original decision to certify the class wrong, is a basis for
declining to certify a class which apparently satisfies Rule
23.” United Steel, Paper & Forestry v.
ConocoPhillips Co., 593 F.3d 802, 809 (9th Cir. 2010)
(citation and brackets omitted).
requires that there be questions of law or fact common to the
class. Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a)(2). “What matters to class
certification is not the raising of common questions . . .
but rather the capacity of a classwide proceeding to generate
common answers apt to drive the resolution of the
litigation.” Dukes, 564 U.S. at 350. The
commonality requirement is construed permissively, and indeed
less rigorously than the predominance requirement of Rule
23(b)(3). “All questions of fact and law need not be
common to satisfy the rule.” Hanlon v. Chrysler
Corp., 150 F.3d 1011, 1019 (9th Cir. 1998). One
“significant question of law or fact” common to
the class may be sufficient to warrant certification.
Abdullah v. U.S. Sec. Associates, Inc., 731 F.3d
952, 957 (9th Cir. 2013) (quoting Mazza v. Am. Honda
Motor Co., 666 F.3d 581, 589 (9th Cir. 2012)).
under Rule 23(a)(3) requires that the claims or defenses of
the representative parties be typical of the claims or
defenses of the class. Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a)(3). The
representative claims don't need to be
“substantially identical” to those of absent
class members, just “reasonably coextensive.”
Hanlon, 150 F.3d at 1020.
23(a)(4) permits certification of a class only if the
“representative parties will fairly and adequately
protect the interests of the class.” This factor
requires that the lead plaintiff not have conflicts of
interest with the proposed class, and that the lead plaintiff
is represented by qualified and competent counsel who will
vigorously prosecute the action on behalf of the class.
Hanlon, 150 F.3d at 1020.
addition to establishing commonality, Ramirez must still
prove that common questions of law or fact predominate over
questions affecting only individual class members.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(3). The predominance inquiry tests whether
proposed classes are sufficiently cohesive to warrant
adjudication by representation. Amchem Prods., Inc. v.
Windsor, 521 U.S. 591, 623 (1997). “When common
questions present a significant aspect of the case and they
can be resolved for all members of the class in a single
adjudication, there is clear justification for handling the
dispute on a representative rather than on an individual
basis.” Hanlon, 150 F.3d at 1022 (quotation
requires consideration of four factors. See Zinser v.
Accufix Research Inst., Inc., 253 F.3d 1180, 1190 (9th
Cir. 2001). They are:
(A) the class members' interests in individually
controlling the prosecution or defense of separate actions;
(B) the extent and nature of any litigation concerning the
controversy already begun by or against class members;
(C) the desirability or undesirability of concentrating the
litigation of the claims in the particular forum; and
(D) the likely difficulties in managing a class action.
Civ. P. 23(b)(3). When analyzing these factors, the Court
must “focus on the efficiency and economy elements of
the class action so that cases allowed under subdivision
(b)(3) are those that can be adjudicated most profitably on a
representative basis.” Zinser, 253 F.3d at
1190 (internal quotations and citations omitted).