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Forsyth v. HP Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

January 7, 2020

DONNA J. FORSYTH, et al., Plaintiffs,
HP INC., et al., Defendants.



         On August 18, 2016, Plaintiffs filed a putative class action alleging that Defendants violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), and other California laws. Complaint ¶ 4, Dkt. 1. Bryant Fonseca (“Fonseca”) seeks to intervene in this action. Notice and Motion for Intervention as Plaintiff and Memorandum of Points and Authorities (“Mot.”), Dkt. 346. Both Plaintiffs and Defendants oppose Fonseca's motion to intervene. The Court finds this motion suitable for consideration without oral argument. See N.D. Cal. Civ. L.R. 7-1(b). Having considered the Parties' papers, Fonseca's motion to intervene is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         In October 2013, HP's Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) Meg Whitman stated during a Securities Analyst Meeting that HP planned to “recalibrate and reshape” the workforce by “replacing” existing workers with “a whole host of young people.” Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”) ¶ 3, Dkt. 168; see also Declaration of Erik A. Dos Santos in Support of Motion for Intervention of Plaintiff (“Santos Decl.”), Ex. A (First Amended Complaint in Fonseca Action) ¶ 22, Dkt. 346-1. Plaintiffs filed this action alleging that HP's Workforce Reduction Plan (“WFR”) caused age discrimination in violation of the ADEA, FEHA, and other California laws. See SAC ¶¶ 162-94. Plaintiffs' original Complaint and the operative pleading, the SAC, both plead facts arguing that Defendants are liable under disparate treatment and disparate impact (two commonly accepted age discrimination theories). Id. ¶¶ 146, 152, 160, 170-71.

         On May 8, 2017, Fonseca was terminated from his employment with HP pursuant to the WFR. Santos Decl., Ex. A at ¶ 42. On November 29, 2017, Fonseca filed an action against Defendants Hewlett-Packard Company, HP, Inc., and HP Enterprise Services, LLC, in which he alleged, similar to Plaintiffs, that Defendants violated FEHA, ADEA, and other California laws. See Santos Decl. ¶ 2; Id., Ex. A. On January 12, 2018, Defendants removed the Fonseca action to federal court. Id. ¶ 13. On September 5, 2018, the federal court remanded Fonseca's action. Id. ¶ 16. Defendants filed a motion to stay the Fonseca action pending the final resolution of this action. Declaration of Richard W. Black in Support of Defendants' Opposition (“Black Decl.”) ¶ 9, Dkt. 348-1. On April 12, 2019, the state court stayed the age discrimination claims because of the “clear overlap” between Fonseca's action and this case. Id., Ex. 7 at 4. The Fonseca action includes antitrust claims, which are currently being litigated in federal court, and are irrelevant to this action. Mot. at 4 n.1.

         B. Procedural History

         From April 22 to July 20, 2019, Fonseca states that his counsel met and conferred with Forsyth's counsel about mediations and possible intervention. Declaration of Tyler J. Belong in Support of Motion for Intervention as Plaintiff (“Belong Decl.”) ¶¶ 3-7. On July 23, 2019, Fonseca filed his Motion to Intervene. On November 18, 2019, Defendants filed their Opposition. Defendants' Opposition to Bryant Fonseca's Motion for Intervention as Plaintiff (“D Opp.”), Dkt. 348. Plaintiffs also filed an Opposition on November 18, 2019. Plaintiffs' Response to Fonseca Motion for Intervention (“P Opp.”), Dkt. 349. On November 26, 2019, Fonseca filed two Reply briefs: (1) Proposed Intervenor's Reply to Defendants' Opposition to Motion to Intervene (“D Reply”), Dkt. 351 and (2) Proposed Intervenor's Reply to Plaintiffs' Response to Motion to Intervention (“P Reply”), Dkt. 352.


         A court must permit a nonparty to intervene in a pending lawsuit and gain party status if a federal statute confers an unconditional right to intervene. Fed.R.Civ.P. 24(a)(1). Where, as here, the nonparty does not claim a right to intervene by a federal statute, the party must show that:

(1) it has a ‘significant protectable interest' relating to the property or transaction that is the subject of the action; (2) the disposition of the action may, as a practical matter, impair or impede the applicant's ability to protect its interest; (3) the application is timely; and (4) the existing parties may not adequately represent the applicant's interest.

Donnelly v. Glickman, 159 F.3d 405, 409 (9th Cir. 1998) (citation and quotation marks omitted); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(a)(2); U.S. ex rel. McGough v. Covington Techs. Co., 967 F.2d 1391 (“Generally, Rule 24(a)(2) is construed broadly in favor of proposed intervenors and ‘we are guided primarily by practical considerations.'” (quoting United States v. Stringfellow, 783 F.2d 821, 826 (9th Cir. 1986))).

         If a party cannot meet the standard to intervene as of right, the Court may still allow permissive intervention. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(b)(1)(B) (allowing intervention if the party has a claim or defense that shares with the main action a common question of law or fact). An applicant who seeks permissive intervention must prove that it meets three threshold requirements: “(1) it shares a common question of law or fact with the main action; (2) its motion is timely; and (3) the court has an independent basis for jurisdiction over the applicant's claims.” Donnelly, 159 F.3d at 412. Even if an applicant satisfies those threshold requirements, the court retains discretion to deny intervention. See Orange Cty. v. Air Cal., 799 F.2d 535, 539 (9th Cir. 1986) (“Permissive intervention is committed to the broad discretion of the district court . . . .”).

         III. ...

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