United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS; GRANTING LEAVE TO
FILE STATEMENTS OF RECENT DECISION RE: DKT. NO. 22, 31,
Gonzalez Rogers United States District Court Judge
pending before the Court is the motion of defendants Service
Employees International Union, Local 1021, and Service
Employees International Union to dismiss plaintiff Stacey
Penning's complaint. (Dkt. No. 22.) Having considered the
papers and underlying evidence filed in support of and in
opposition to the motion, the arguments of the parties on
December 10, 2019, and the recently issued authorities,
for the reasons set forth herein, the Court
Grants the motion to dismiss Without
Leave To Amend.
alleges, on behalf of himself and a putative class of
non-members of the union defendants, claims for: (1)
violation of 42 U.S.C. section 1983; (2) the federal
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201; (3) state
law conversion, and (4) a state law common count for
restitution of money had and received. Plaintiff alleges that
his employer, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission,
withheld fair-share fees from his wages and forwarded them to
Local 1021, the exclusive collective bargaining
representative for public sector employees in his unit, to
pay for Local 1021's collective bargaining activities.
Plaintiff contends that the compulsory collection of
fair-share fees violates his constitutional rights under
Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, 138 S.Ct. 2448 (2018)
(“Janus”) and seeks declaratory and
injunctive relief against compulsory fair-share fees,
retrospective refunds of fees previously collected.
move under Fed. R. Civ. Proc. (“FRCP”) 12(b)(1)
to dismiss plaintiff's claims on three separate grounds.
First, they move to dismiss claims for declaratory and
injunctive relief on the ground that this Court lacks
subject-matter jurisdiction over those claims. Next, they
move to dismiss plaintiff's claim for retrospective
monetary relief under Section 1983 pursuant to the
“good faith” defense. Finally, defendants move to
dismiss plaintiff's state law claims on the grounds that
those claims are preempted by the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act and
barred by California Government Code §1159.
claims for prospective relief fail because they are moot. All
fair-share fee deductions from plaintiff and the putative
class members ceased when the United States Supreme Court
issued its decision in Janus, i.e. nearly one year
before plaintiff filed his complaint. Accordingly,
there is no reasonable likelihood of such deductions
recurring since Janus declared them
unconstitutional. “[E]very other district court to
consider this issue has found claims for prospective relief
moot after Janus.” Babb v. Cal. Teachers
Ass'n, 378 F.Supp.3d 857, 871 (C.D. Cal. 2019)
(citing cases), appeal pending, No. 19-55692 (9th
Cir.); Danielson v. AFSCME Council 28, 340 F.Supp.3d
1083, 1084 (W.D. Wash. 2018), affirmed Danielson v.
Inslee, No. 18-36087, 945 F.3d 1096, ___, 2019 WL
7182203 at *2 n.2 (9th Cir. Dec. 26, 2019) (noting that
plaintiffs do not contest the dismissal of their claims for
declaratory and injunctive relief). This Court agrees that
the claims for prospective relief are moot.
respect to the claims for repayment of fair-share fees
previously deducted before Janus, the good faith
doctrine precludes such relief under section 1983. As the
Ninth Circuit recently held last month, affirming dismissal
of a similar post-Janus action:
a union defendant can invoke an affirmative defense of good
faith to retrospective monetary liability under section 1983
for the agency fees it collected pre-Janus, where
its conduct was directly authorized under both state law and
decades of Supreme Court jurisprudence. The Union was not
required to forecast changing winds at the Supreme Court and
anticipatorily presume the overturning of Abood.
Instead, we permit private parties to rely on judicial
pronouncements of what the law is, without exposing
themselves to potential liability for doing so.
* * *
The ability of the public to rely on the courts'
pronouncements of law is integral to the functioning of our
judicial system. After all, “[i]t is emphatically the
province and duty of the judicial department to say what the
law is.” Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch)
137, 177, 2 L.Ed. 60 (1803). If private parties could no
longer rely on the pronouncements of even the nation's
highest court to steer clear of liability, it could have a
destabilizing impact on the judicial system.
Because the Union's action was sanctioned not only by
state law, but also by directly on-point Supreme Court
precedent, we hold that the good faith defense shields the
Union from retrospective monetary liability as a matter of
law. In so ruling, we join a growing consensus of courts
across the nation
Danielson, 945 F.3d 1096, ___, 2019 WL 7182203, at
*3, 7. Consequently, the Court finds that plaintiff's
claims for retrospective relief pursuant to section 1983 fail
as a matter of law.
with respect to plaintiffs claims for retrospective relief
under state law, such claims are preempted by the
Meyers-Milias-Brown Act, Cal. Gov't Code §§
3500-11, and barred by California Government Code §
1159. See Babb, 378 F.Supp.3d at 877, 878 (claims
must be dismissed based both on preemptive effect of
state's public employee collective-bargaining statute
over state common law refund claims, and on Government Code
§ 1159 expressly barring such claims).
the Court finds all of plaintiff s claims must be dismissed
as a matter of law and any amendment would be futile, no
leave to amend is permitted.
action is Dismissed and the Clerk is