United States District Court, N.D. California, San Francisco Division
ORDER DENYING RECONSIDERATION [RE: ECF NOS. 125,
BEELER United States Magistrate Judge.
an overtime-pay case under the federal Fair Labor Standards
Act ("FLSA") and counterpart California laws. (4th
Am. Compl. - ECF No. 128.) The plaintiffs work or have worked for
defendant Wells Fargo Advisors as licensed financial
advisors. They claim that Wells Fargo misclassified them as
exempt from the overtime-pay mandate of the FLSA and similar
California laws and so failed to pay them requisite
compensation. Beyond their overtime claim, the plaintiffs
also sue for wrongful deductions from their pay, failure to
timely pay wages that were due when their employment ended,
and other related theories. (E.g., Id. at 11-14
[¶¶ 45-65].) All the plaintiffs‘ claims arise
from their work at Wells Fargo. (See, e.g., Id. at
7-9 [¶¶ 26-33].) The court previously granted Wells
Fargo summary judgment against the FLSA claims of plaintiffs
Vlad Tsyn and Catherine Horan-Walker and dismissed those
claims with prejudice. (ECF No. 105.) Other plaintiffs‘
FLSA claims have not yet come before the court for
plaintiffs then moved the court to certify its
summary-judgment order for interlocutory appeal under 28
U.S.C. § 1292 or Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b).
(ECF No. 106.) The court denied that motion. (ECF No. 120.)
The court‘s driving reason was that the dismissed FLSA
claim overlapped completely with the plaintiffs‘
effectively identical overtime-pay claims under California
law - claims that were then still pending. (See id.,
plaintiffs have since filed a Fourth Amended Complaint that
omits the California-law overtime claims but that otherwise
continues to advance numerous federal- and state-law theories
based upon their employment at Wells Fargo. (ECF No. 128.)
The plaintiffs now move the court to reconsider and vacate
its previous Rule 54(b) order, and under that rule to certify
its FLSA summary judgment for immediate appeal. (ECF Nos.
125, 126.) The court held a hearing on this motion on June
23, 2016. For the reasons given below, the court denies the
court accepts that, in these circumstances, the
plaintiffs‘ dismissing their overlapping California
overtime claims constitutes the "emergence of new
material facts" for purposes of Civil Local Rule
7-9(b)(2). Even if it did not, however, the court could still
entertain the reconsideration motion. Local Rule 7-9 sets
demands that litigants must meet to seek
reconsideration of interlocutory decisions. See
Civil L.R. 7-9(a)-(c). That rule does not restrict the
court's ability to revisit its previous orders.
It is rudimentary that, for as long as it has jurisdiction of
a case, a trial court has the "inherent . . .
power" to "reconsider, rescind, or modify" its
interlocutory decisions. City of Los Angeles, Harbor Div.
v. Santa Monica Baykeeper, 254 F.3d 882, 885 (9th Cir.
2001) (emphasis removed); see also Fed. R. Civ. P.
54(b) ("[A]ny order . . . may be revised at any time
before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims
and all the parties‘ rights and liabilities.").
Moreover, "[a] district court may reconsider and reverse
a previous interlocutory decision for any reason it deems
sufficient, even in the absence of new evidence or an
intervening change in or clarification of controlling
law." Abada v. Charles Schwab & Co., 127
F.Supp.2d 1101, 1102 (S.D. Cal. 2000). The district court may
sua sponte reconsider a Rule 54(b) ruling. See
Santa Monica Baykeeper, 254 F.3d at 886.
54(b) provides a device for parties to seek interlocutory
review of orders that are not truly "final" because
they "do not dispose of all of the claims" in a
suit. See generally, e.g., Jewel v. Nat'l Sec.
Agency, 810 F.3d 622, 627-28 (9th Cir. 2015). A two-step
process guides the Rule 54(b) analysis. "A district
court must first determine that it has rendered a
‗final judgment, ‘ that is, a judgment that is
‗an ultimate disposition of an individual claim entered
in the course of a multiple claims action.‘"
Wood v. GCC Bend, LLC, 422 F.3d 873, 878 (9th Cir.
2005) (quoting Curtiss- Wright Corp. v. Gen. Elec.
Co., 446 U.S. 1, 7 (1980)) (further quotation omitted).
"Then it must determine whether there is any just reason
for delay." Wood, 422 F.3d at 878. The latter
determination should consider: (1) the interrelationship of
the certified claims and the remaining claims in light of the
policy against piecemeal review; and (2) equitable factors
such as prejudice and delay. See Curtiss-Wright, 446
U.S. at 8-10; Gregorian v. Izvestia, 871 F.2d 1515,
1518-20 (9th Cir. 1989).
54(b) "was adopted specifically to avoid the possible
injustice of delay[ing] judgment o[n] a distinctly separate
claim [pending] adjudication of the entire case. . . . The
Rule thus aimed to augment, not diminish, appeal
opportunity." Jewel, 810 F.3d at 628 (quoting
Gelboim v. Bank of Am. Corp., 135 S.Ct. 897, 902-03
(2015)). The Ninth Circuit has indicated in this vein that
the modern trend is toward permitting Rule 54(b)
certification, or, more exactly, "toward greater
deference to a district court‘s decision to certify
under Rule 54(b)." Texaco, Inc. v. Ponsoldt,
939 F.2d 794, 798 (9th Cir. 1991). That court has also called
the "unusual case" and "pressing needs"
limitations of Morrison-Knudsen Co. v. Archer, 655
F.2d 962 (1981) "outdated and overly restrictive."
Ponsoldt, 939 F.2d at 798. This assessment is
consistent with the Supreme Court‘s disavowal of early
guidance (from a 1946 Advisory Committee note) that confined
Rule 54(b) certification to the "infrequent harsh
case." See Curtiss-Wright, 446 U.S. at
Under this more lenient view, certified claims "do not
have to be separate from and independent of the remaining
claims" if a Rule 54(b) appeal will aid the
"expeditious decision" of the case.
Ponsoldt, 939 F.2d at 797 (quoting Sheehan v.
Atlanta Int'l Ins. Co., 812 F.2d 465, 468 (9th Cir.
rule is nevertheless applied "to prevent piecemeal
appeals in cases which should be reviewed only as single
units." Jewel, 810 F.3d at 628 (quoting
Curtiss-Wright, 446 U.S. at 10). The main concern
will normally be to adopt the approach that most efficiently
disposes of a lawsuit. "It is left to the sound judicial
discretion of the district court to determine the appropriate
time‘ when each final decision in a multiple claims
action is ready for appeal. This discretion is to be
exercised in the interest of sound judicial
administration.‘" Id. (quoting
Curtiss-Wright, 446 U.S. at 7) (quoting in turn
Sears, Roebuck & Co. v. Mackey, 351 U.S. 427, 437
(1956)); see also Jewel, 810 F.3d at 628
("juridical concerns" regarding piecemeal appeals
are reviewed de novo; otherwise, "discretionary
judgment of the district court should be given substantial
dismissal of the FLSA claim is "final" for purposes
of Rule 54(b). It is not the "partial adjudication of a
single claim." Ariz. Carpenters Pension Trust Fund
v. Miller,938 F.2d 1038, 1039-40 (9th Cir. 1991)
(quoting Sussex Drug Prods. v. Kanasco, Ltd, 920
F.2d 1150, 1154 (3d Cir. 1990)). It is instead "a
judgment‘ in the sense that it is a decision upon a
cognizable claim for relief, and . . . final‘ in the
sense that it is an ultimate disposition of an individual
claim entered in the course of a multiple claims
action.‘" Curti ...