O'Connor et al v. Uber Technologies, Inc. et al

Filing 750

ORDER by Judge Edward M. Chen Denying 588 627 637 644 677 Motions to Intervene and Denying 591 Motion to Disqualify Counsel. (Attachments: # 1 Certificate/Proof of Service). (emcsec, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 8/18/2016)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 DOUGLAS O’CONNOR, et al., Plaintiffs, 8 UBER TECHNOLOGIES, INC., et al., Docket Nos. 588, 591, 627, 637, 644, 677 Defendants. 11 12 For the Northern District of California United States District Court ORDER DENYING MOTIONS TO INTERVENE AND DENYING MOTION TO DISQUALIFY COUNSEL v. 9 10 Case No. 13-cv-03826-EMC 13 On April 21, 2016, Plaintiffs Thomas Colopy, Elie Gurfinkel, and Matthew Manahan filed 14 a motion for preliminary approval of a class action settlement. Docket No. 518. Since the filing 15 of that motion, plaintiffs in other on-going cases against Defendant Uber Technologies, Inc. have 16 filed motions to intervene and a motion to disqualify class counsel. Docket No. 588 (Ghazi Mot. 17 to Intervene); 591 (Mot. to Disqualify); 627 (Congdon Mot.); 637 (Price Mot.); 644 (John Doe 18 Mot.); 677 (Tabola Mot.). The Court DENIES these motions. 19 20 The proposed interveners are not entitled to intervention as of right. In determining whether intervention as of right is appropriate, the Ninth Circuit applies a four-part test: 21 (1) the motion must be timely; (2) the applicant must claim a “significantly protectable” interest relating to the property or transaction which is the subject of the action; (3) the applicant must be so situated that the disposition of the action may as a practical matter impair or impede its ability to protect that interest; and (4) the applicant’s interest must be inadequately represented by the parties to the action. 22 23 24 25 State ex rel. Lockyer v. United States, 450 F.3d 436, 440 (9th Cir. 2006) (internal quotation 26 omitted). 27 28 The proposed interveners have not established that they have a significantly protectable interest that they cannot protect. First, the Court has denied preliminary approval of the No. 748. Second, proposed interveners can protect and indeed have protected their interest by 3 objecting to the settlement. Moreover, had the settlement been preliminary approved, they could 4 object to final approval, or opt out of the class and pursue their claims separately. See, e.g., 5 Zepada v. Paypal, Inc., Case No. C: 10-2500-SBA, 2014 WL 4354386, at *5 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 2, 6 2014) (denying motion to intervene because “[i]f the class is certified and Putative Interveners are 7 members of the class, then Putative Interveners do have means to protect their interests. That is, 8 they may object to the settlement during the hearings on motions for preliminary approval or final 9 approval, or they may opt out of the class and pursue their claims separately”); Cotter v. Lyft, Inc., 10 Case No. 13-cv-4065-VC, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83963, at *2-3 (N.D. Cal. June 28, 2016) (“The 11 Zamora plaintiffs’ ability to protect their interest in the claims released by the Cotter action will 12 For the Northern District of California settlement, and thus the interveners and their respective lawsuits will be unaffected. See Docket 2 United States District Court 1 not be impaired by the Cotter settlement, because the Zamora plaintiffs may file formal objections 13 and appear at the final approval hearing, or opt out of the Cotter settlement and continue to pursue 14 their claims against Lyft if they wish”); Carroll v. Wells Fargo & Co., Case No. 15-cv-2321- 15 EMC, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 96149, at *3 (N.D. Cal. July 22, 2016) (no impairment of interest 16 because “[t]he three can make objections if and when Ms. Carroll moves to certify; they can also 17 object and/or opt out if, e.g., a settlement class is contemplated”). 18 Second, permissive intervention under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(b) is not 19 warranted in this case. “An applicant who seeks permissive intervention must prove that it meets 20 three threshold requirements: (1) it shares a common question of law or fact with the main action; 21 (2) its motion is timely; and (3) the court has an independent basis for jurisdiction over the 22 applicant’s claims.” Donnelly v. Glickman, 159 F.3d 405, 412 (9th Cir. 1998) (internal citation 23 omitted); see also Peruta v. Cnty. of San Diego, 771 F.3d 570, 579 (9th Cir. 2014). As an initial 24 matter, the vast majority of proposed interveners have not established the three threshold 25 requirements. For example, the Ghazi, Price, and Tabola proposed interveners have not shown an 26 independent basis for jurisdiction, as they are each California residents bringing California claims 27 on behalf of a class made up exclusively of California (or in the case of the Tabola plaintiffs, San 28 Francisco) residents against Uber, a California citizen. Thus, the Court lacks diversity or federal 2 1 question jurisdiction over these claims.1 The Congdon proposed interveners have failed to 2 establish that their case shares a common question of law or fact with the instant case, as Congdon 3 is a contract case whereas O’Connor is an employment misclassification case. Moreover, Uber 4 has agreed that the breach of contract claims raised by Congdon will not be affected by O’Connor. 5 Docket No. 664 at 1-2. Similarly, it appears Doe’s suit is focused on “mandating that Uber obtain 6 federal operating authority and appropriate insurance and surety bonds as required by law,” also a 7 separate issue from the misclassification claims. Doe Mot. at 32. However, even if the proposed interveners met the three threshold requirements, the Court 8 9 would decline to exercise its discretion to grant permissive intervention. Again, the Court has denied the preliminary approval motion, and thus the settlement will not affect the proposed 11 interveners’ cases. Thus, the Court concludes that intervention is not warranted. 12 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 The Court also denies Ghazi’s motion to disqualify class counsel. Ghazi’s motion is based 13 on an alleged conflict of interest between the O’Connor certified class, the Yucesoy putative class, 14 and the individual plaintiffs in Colopy v. Uber Technologies, Inc. Mot. to Disqualify at 6-7. In so 15 arguing, Ghazi focuses on the different allocations of the class fund under the proposed settlement 16 to these three groups. Id. at 11-12. This argument is moot as the Court has already denied the 17 motion for preliminary approval. In any event, the Court is satisfied that the different allocations 18 were reasonably explained as reflecting the respective strengths of the claims, which involve 19 different risks to each of these three groups. There is no basis to take the extreme step of 20 removing class counsel at this juncture. 21 /// 22 /// 23 /// 24 /// 25 /// 26 1 27 28 The Court also lacks jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), as the home state mandatory abstention exception applies when “two-thirds or more of the members of all proposed plaintiff classes in the aggregate, and the primary defendants, are citizens of the State in which the action was originally filed.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(4)(B). 3 1 2 3 In conclusion, the Court DENIES the motions to intervene and the motion to disqualify class counsel. This order disposes of Docket Nos. 588, 591, 627, 637, 644, 677. 4 5 IT IS SO ORDERED. 6 7 8 9 Dated: August 18, 2016 ______________________________________ EDWARD M. CHEN United States District Judge 10 12 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 11 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

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