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Columbia Sussex Management, LLC v. City of Santa Monica

United States District Court, C.D. California

December 18, 2019

COLUMBIA SUSSEX MANAGEMENT LLC, and CW HOTEL LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, individually and on behalf of all other hotel owners and managers operating hotels in Santa Monica, California, Plaintiffs,




         Plaintiffs Columbia Sussex Management, LLC, and CW Hotel Limited Partnership (“Plaintiffs”) sued the City of Santa Monica (“City”) seeking a finding that Santa Monica Municipal Code (“SMMC”) Chapter 4.67.030(a) (the “Ordinance”) is unconstitutional, invalid, and preempted. (First Am. Compl. (“FAC”) ¶ 4, ECF No. 4.) Plaintiffs move with expedited briefing for a preliminary injunction to prevent the Ordinance from taking effect (“Motion”). (See Mot. Prelim. Inj. (“Mot.”), ECF No. 24.) For the reasons below, the Court DENIES Plaintiffs' Motion.[1]


         On September 10, 2019, the Santa Monica City Council adopted Chapter 4.67, including the Ordinance, with the stated purpose “to Enhance Protection of Hotel Workers in the Local Hospitality Industry.” (FAC ¶ 18.) Entitled “Measures to Provide Fair Compensation for Workload, ” the Ordinance limits hotel employees who clean guest rooms (“Room Attendants”) from cleaning more than a specified square footage of floor space during their scheduled shift. (Mot. 1; FAC ¶ 20 (quoting the Ordinance).) At hotels with fewer than forty rooms, Room Attendants may not be required to clean more than 4000 square feet in an eight-hour workday. SMMC § 4.67.030(a). At hotels with forty or more rooms, Room Attendants may not be required to clean more than 3500 square feet in an eight-hour workday. Id. If a Room Attendant is required to exceed these limits, the hotel employer must compensate the Room Attendant at twice the regular rate of pay for all hours worked in that workday. Id. The Ordinance may be waived “pursuant to a bona fide collective bargaining agreement.” Id. § 4.67.110. As relevant here, Chapter 4.67 will take effect on January 1, 2020. Id. § 4.67.130.

         On November 21, 2019, Plaintiffs filed this class action lawsuit on behalf of “all of the other 40 hotels located within Santa Monica.” (See Compl., ECF No. 1; FAC ¶ 45.) Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief, including findings that the Ordinance is unconstitutional, invalid, and preempted. (FAC ¶¶ 47-66.) On November 27, 2019, the parties stipulated to an expedited briefing schedule for Plaintiffs' Motion. (Stipulation, ECF No. 17.) Accordingly, on December 2, 2019, Plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction to prevent the Ordinance from going into effect as scheduled. (See Mot.) The City opposed and Plaintiffs replied. (Opp'n to Mot. (“Opp'n”), ECF No. 26; Reply, ECF No. 32.) The Court now addresses Plaintiffs' Motion.


         A preliminary injunction is an “extraordinary remedy that may only be awarded upon a clear showing that the plaintiff is entitled to such relief.” Winter v. Nat. Res. Def. Council, 555 U.S. 7, 22 (2008); see Earth Island Inst. v. Carlton, 626 F.3d 462, 469 (9th Cir. 2010) (discussing that plaintiffs “face a difficult task in proving that they are entitled to this ‘extraordinary remedy'”). Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65, a court may grant preliminary injunctive relief to prevent “immediate and irreparable injury.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 65(b). To obtain this relief, a plaintiff must establish the “Winter” factors: (1) “he is likely to succeed on the merits”; (2) “he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief”; (3) “the balance of equities tips in his favor”; and (4) “an injunction is in the public interest.” Am. Trucking Ass'ns, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles, 559 F.3d 1046, 1052 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Winter, 555 U.S. at 20).

         In the Ninth Circuit, the Winter factors may be evaluated on a sliding scale: “serious questions going to the merits, and a balance of hardships that tips sharply towards the plaintiff can support issuance of a preliminary injunction, so long as the plaintiff also shows that there is a likelihood of irreparable injury and that the injunction is in the public interest.” All. for the Wild Rockies v. Cottrell, 632 F.3d 1127, 1135 (9th Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks omitted). Thus, “[r]egardless of how the test for a preliminary injunction is phrased, the moving party must demonstrate irreparable harm.” Am. Passage Media Corp. v. Cass Commc'ns, Inc., 750 F.2d 1470, 1473 (9th Cir. 1985). “The court may issue a preliminary injunction or a temporary restraining order only if the movant gives security in an amount that the court considers proper to pay the costs and damages sustained by any party found to have been wrongfully enjoined or restrained.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 65(c).


         As a preliminary matter, both parties request that the Court take judicial notice of various documents. Federal Rule of Evidence 201 allows a court to take judicial notice of a fact that “is not subject to reasonable dispute because it: (1) is generally known within the trial court's territorial jurisdiction; or (2) can be accurately and readily determined from sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned.” Fed.R.Evid. 201(b); United States v. Ritchie, 342 F.3d 903, 909 (9th Cir. 2003).

         Plaintiffs request judicial notice of four documents but provide no support for the authenticity of the documents or the propriety of judicial notice. (See Pls.' Req. for Judicial Notice (“RJN”), ECF No. 24-3.) Accordingly, the Court DENIES Plaintiffs' request. The City requests judicial notice of SMMC Chapter 4.63 and California Code of Regulation, title 8, section 3345. (City's RJN, ECF No. 27.) The Court DENIES the City's request as moot because “the Court need not judicially notice these authorities in order to consider them.” Otero v. Zeltiq Aesthetics, Inc., No. CV 17-3994-DMG (MWRx), 2018 WL 3012942, at *1 (C.D. Cal. June 11, 2018.)

         V. DISCUSSION

         Plaintiffs move for a preliminary injunction to prevent the challenged portions of the Ordinance from taking effect on January 1, 2020. (Mot. 1-2.) Plaintiffs challenge only section 4.67.030(a) (“Ordinance” or “Workload Limitation”) and its corresponding collective bargaining waiver provision, section 4.67.110 (“Waiver”); Plaintiffs challenge no other part of the Chapter. (Mot. 1 n.1.) Plaintiffs contend the putative class of Santa Monica hotel owners and operators will be irreparably harmed if these provisions are permitted to take effect on January 1, 2020. (Mot. 2.) They argue the Ordinance is (1) preempted by the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 151 et seq. (“NLRA”) under Machinists preemption; (2) invalid under the dormant Commerce Clause (“DCC”); and (3) preempted by the California Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1973, Cal. Lab. Code § 6300 et seq. (“CalOSHA”). (Mot. 2.)

         A. Irreparable Harm

         “[P]laintiffs seeking preliminary injunctive relief [must] demonstrate that irreparable injury is likely in the absence of an injunction.” Winter, 555 U.S. at 22. A mere possibility of irreparable harm is insufficient. Id. “[A] party is not entitled to a preliminary injunction unless he or she can demonstrate more than simply damages of a pecuniary nature.” Regents of Univ. of Cal. v. Am. Broad. Cos., 747 F.2d 511, 519 (9th Cir. 1984) (citing Los Angeles Mem. Coliseum Comm'n v. NFL, 634 F.2d 1197, 1202 (9th Cir. 1980)); but see Herb Reed Enters., LLC v. Florida Entm't Mgmt., 736 F.3d 1239, 1250 (9th Cir. 2013) (discussing, in the trademark context, that “[e]vidence of loss of control over business reputation and damage to goodwill could constitute irreparable harm”). “[P]laintiff must demonstrate potential harm which cannot be redressed by a legal or an equitable remedy following a trial. The preliminary injunction must be the only way of protecting the plaintiff from the harm.” Campbell Soup Co. v. ConAgra, Inc., 977 F.2d 86, 91 (3d Cir. 1992).

         Plaintiffs argue they will suffer irreparable harm because they will have to pay their current Room Attendants double their current rate, or hire and pay additional Room Attendants, because their Room Attendants currently clean more than the permitted square footage under the Ordinance. (Mot. 6.) They contend that additional administrative costs will also result from the need to track Room Attendants' assigned square footage. (Mot. 7.) Plaintiffs argue this additional cost may result in loss of customers and customer ...

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