Wilson v. Frito-Lay North America, Inc. et al

Filing 150

ORDER by Judge Samuel Conti granting 136 Motion to Stay. (sclc2, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 7/20/2015)

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1 2 3 4 5 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 6 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 7 8 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 9 10 MARKUS WILSON and DOUG COMPEN, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs, 11 12 13 v. FRITO-LAY NOTH AMERICA, INC., Defendant. 14 15 ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) Case No. 12-CV-1586 SC ORDER GRANTING STAY PENDING RESOLUTION OF RELEVANT NINTH CIRCUIT CASES 16 17 The Court now turns to a request by Plaintiffs for a stay in 18 the above captioned case pending the results of a Ninth Circuit 19 case, Jones v. Conagra Foods, Inc., No. 14-16327 (9th Cir. Filed 20 July 14, 2014). 21 See ECF Nos. 139, 141. 22 for resolution without oral argument under Civil Local Rule 7-1(b). 23 ECF Nos. 136. The matter has been fully briefed. The Court finds the matter is appropriate "[T]he power to stay proceedings is incidental to the power 24 inherent in every court to control the disposition of the causes on 25 its docket with economy of time and effort for itself, for counsel, 26 and for litigants." 27 (1936). 28 consider "the possible damage which may result from the granting of Landis v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 When deciding whether to stay a case, a court should 1 a stay, the hardship or inequity which a party may suffer in being 2 required to go forward, and the orderly course of justice measured 3 in terms of the simplifying or complicating of issues, proof, and 4 questions of law which could be expected to result from a stay." 5 CMAX, Inc. v. Hall, 300 F.2d 265, 268 (9th Cir. 1962). 6 Pardini v. Unilever United States, Case No. 13-cv-01675, ECF No. 59 7 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 15, 2015); Leonhart v. Nature's Path Foods, Inc., 8 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73269, *9-10 (N.D. Cal. June 5, 2015) 9 (quoting Gustavson v. Mars, Inc., No. 13—cv—04537—LHK, 2014 U.S. See also United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 Dist. LEXIS 171736, 2014 WL 6986421, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 10, 11 2014)). Parties seem to minimally dispute whether a stay is proper 12 13 with respect to consideration of the motion for class 14 certification. 15 the analysis in Pardini largely applies to this case, and on a 16 similar analysis finds a stay of the class action certification 17 motion is appropriate. 18 with respect to the class certification motion, there is any 19 cognizable damage to the parties, hardship beyond merely waiting 20 (discovery is complete and parties are waiting on further expert 21 depositions), or legal complications that disfavor a stay. 22 the Court agrees with Plaintiffs that a stay here would promote 23 judicial efficiency by requiring the Court to evaluate the issues a 24 single time, minimize supplemental briefings, and avoid duplicate 25 expert depositions. 26 matter of whether a stay is appropriate with respect to the motion 27 for summary judgment. 28 /// Insofar as it is challenged, the Court finds that The Court simply is not convinced that, Rather, The Court therefore turns to the more disputed 2 1 Upon review of the underlying cases cited by Defendant, ECF 2 No. 139 at 4, the Court agrees it would normally not be appropriate 3 to make Defendant wait on the motion for summary judgment when the 4 Court could still move forward on that matter. 5 agrees with Plaintiffs that there is efficiency in deposing experts 6 a single time, it appears Plaintiffs had an opportunity to gather, 7 review, and present expert opinions in their summary judgment 8 response, ECF No. 133, and thus have already collected whatever 9 evidence they deemed necessary for the issues presented as part of While the Court United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 the motion for summary judgment. Thus the Court would normally be 11 inclined to side with Defendant. However, two factual matters 12 successfully persuade the Court that a stay of the entire case is 13 appropriate here. 14 First, Defendant relies on the district court decision 15 appealed in Jones when arguing the merits of its motion for summary 16 judgment here (without any mention that an appeal was pending) -- 17 once distinguishing it where it otherwise appeared to be 18 instructive on the legal burdens applicable to the Plaintiffs, and 19 once citing that this case is factually comparable and thus the 20 district court's approach in Jones should be followed. 21 123 at 13, 21. 22 months before filing its opposition to the stay. 23 inconsistent for Defendant to suggest that Jones will provide no 24 relevant guidance yet cite as authority to the underlying case 25 being appealed. 26 is not relevant for the purposes of the Court's evaluation of 27 summary judgment or it is. 28 concludes Jones is likely to be relevant to -- if not dispositive See ECF No. Defendant filed its motion for summary judgment Thus it is Defendant cannot have it both ways. Either Jones After careful consideration, the Court 3 1 of -- both the motion for class certification and the motion for 2 summary judgment. Second, the Court has reviewed decisions by sister courts 3 4 within this Judicial District considering whether to grant stays 5 relating to Jones, including Leonhart v. Nature's Path Foods, Inc., 6 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73269, *9 (N.D. Cal. June 5, 2015). 7 stay was also granted pursuant to Brazil, a case where a ruling 8 partially on summary judgment in a food case is now pending before 9 the Ninth Circuit. There, a Brazil v. Dole Packaged Foods, LLC, No. 14- United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 17480, (9th Cir. Filed Dec. 18, 2014) (appealing Case No. 12-cv- 11 01831-LHK, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 169943, 2014 WL 6901867 (N.D. Cal. 12 Dec. 8, 2014). 13 appeal is whether "the district court err[ed] at summary judgment 14 in ruling Plaintiff failed to provide sufficient evidence of how 15 reasonable consumers would be deceived by Dole’s 'all natural' 16 labels[.]" 17 briefs pending before the Ninth Circuit call directly into question 18 many of the same factual circumstances and points of law Defendant 19 argues merit the grant of summary judgment in this case. 20 Defendant cites Brazil in both its original summary judgment motion 21 brief and its summary motion reply brief (again with no indication 22 an appeal was pending). 23 Brazil appears it will be largely if not directly on-point for the 24 summary judgment motion at bar, it would be just as ill advised to 25 proceed with this motion prior to a resolution of Brazil as it 26 would be to proceed on the class certification motion without 27 resolution of Jones. 28 /// The fifth issue being considered as part of the The underlying district court decision and the appeal Moreover, ECF Nos. 123 at 21, 22; 143 at 12-13. 4 As 1 Analysis of the balancing test factors supports this 2 conclusion. There is little if any damage resulting from granting 3 a stay, as the delay will cause no harm to the merits of the case 4 and no loss of evidence. 5 easily justified by the judicial efficiency of hearing the matter 6 only once and reducing the duplication of efforts by counsel to re- 7 brief and re-depose experts. 8 by having clear guidance largely if not directly on point to help 9 it simplify complex issues of law and adequacy of proof. The hardship associated with a stay is Finally, the Court is greatly aided United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 Therefore, the Court finds all three factors weigh in favor of 11 granting a stay. 12 Accordingly, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs' motion and STAYS the 13 case pending resolution in Jones and Brazil. The parties are 14 ordered to notify the Court within 14 days of publication of a 15 decision by the Ninth Circuit in Jones and within 14 days of 16 publication of a decision by the Ninth Circuit in Brazil. 17 two are not issued contemporaneously, upon request of either party 18 the Court will entertain motions to partially lift the stay and 19 proceed on one motion or the other. If the 20 21 IT IS SO ORDERED. 22 23 Dated: July 20, 2015 UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 24 25 26 27 28 5

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