Garcia v. CitiGroup, Inc.

Filing 30


Download PDF
1 **E-Filed 8/25/2011** 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 SAN JOSE DIVISION 11 12 13 ANGELA GARCIA, individually, and on behalf of other members of the general public similarly situated, 14 Plaintiff, 15 16 17 Case No. 11-cv-00692-JF (PSG) ORDER1 GRANTING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO STAY PROCEEDINGS AND TERMINATING MOTION TO DISMISS AS MOOT v. [Re: Docket No. 18] CITIGROUP INC., a Delaware corporation; CITIBANK, N.A., a national association; and Does 1 through 10, 18 Defendants. 19 20 Defendants Citigroup Inc. and Citibank, N.A. move to stay proceedings in this case, or in 21 the alternative, to dismiss Plaintiff’s class action complaint pursuant to Fed. Rule Civ. P. 22 12(b)(6). The Court has considered the moving and responding papers and the oral arguments of 23 counsel presented at the hearing on July 8, 2011. For the reasons discussed below, the motion to 24 stay will be granted, and the motion to dismiss will be terminated as moot. 25 26 27 28 1 This disposition is not designated for publication in the official reports. Case No. 11-cv-00692-JF (PSG) ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO STAY PROCEEDINGS ETC. (JFEX2) 1 I. BACKGROUND 2 The following allegations are set forth in the operative First Amended Complaint 3 (“FAC”). Plaintiff Angela Garcia works for Defendants as a personal banker in Palo Alto, 4 California. FAC ¶ 23. The position personal banker is non-exempt. FAC ¶ 23. Garcia alleges 5 that during her employment, Defendants required her and other class members to work off the 6 clock, depriving her and other class members of overtime compensation and minimum wage. 7 FAC ¶ 46-47. 8 9 Garcia also alleges that Defendants failed to reimburse her and other class members for necessary business expenses that they incurred. FAC ¶ 70-73. She claims that even though 10 Defendants required her to contact and meet clients when off the clock, Defendants never 11 reimbursed her for mileage and telephone expenses. FAC ¶ 70. She asserts that Defendants 12 required her and other class members to work split shifts without additional compensation. FAC 13 ¶ 79. Finally, she alleges that Defendants forced her and other class members to work frequently 14 through their meal and rest periods without additional compensation. FAC ¶ 87. 15 16 17 II. DISCUSSION A. Motion to Stay Defendants argue that the Court should stay the instant proceedings because a similar 18 lawsuit, Mark Davis v. Citibank, N.A., presently is pending in the Orange Superior Court and that 19 litigation is substantially advanced. Mot. to Stay Proceedings at 2-5. Defendants assert that 20 Davis and this case are substantially similar because the plaintiffs in both cases are non-exempt 21 Citibank employees and the claims in both cases arise under California’s wage and hour laws. 22 Id. at 5. Defendants rely upon Colorado River Conservation District v. United States. 424 U.S. 23 800, 817 (1976). Under Colorado River, while the pendency of a state court action does not bar 24 an action regarding the same matter in federal court, in exceptional circumstances 25 “considerations of wise judicial administration” outweigh the duty to exercise federal 26 jurisdiction, and a federal court may stay an action. Id. at 818. 27 Garcia opposes a stay. She argues that this case and Davis are not substantially similar, in 28 part because her claims with respect to split-shift premiums and unreimbursed business expenses 2 Case No. 11-cv-00692-JF (PSG) ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO STAY PROCEEDINGS ETC. (JFEX2) 1 2 are not presented in Davis. Garcia also points out that she is not a party in Davis. A court must balance carefully several factors to determine whether a stay in favor of 3 state proceedings is appropriate: (1) whether either court has asserted jurisdiction over the res or 4 property; (2) the inconvenience of the forum; (3) the avoidance of piecemeal litigation; (4) the 5 order in which each court obtained jurisdiction; (5) whether state or federal law controls; (6) 6 whether the state proceeding can address adequately the rights of the parties. Moses H. Cone. 7 Mem’l Hosp. v. Mercury Ctr., 460 U.S. 1, 16 (1983). 8 9 The federal and state actions need not have identical claims for a federal court to apply the Colorado River doctrine; substantial similarity suffices. Nakash v. Marciano, 882 F.2d 1411, 10 1416 (9th Cir. 1989). Here, while this action and Davis are not identical, both actions relate to 11 Citibank’s alleged wrongful employment practices. The actions involve the same California 12 statutes and assert substantially similar claims. Although Garcia asserts that her claims with 13 respect to split-shift premiums and unreimbursed business expenses will not be resolved in the 14 Davis action, in fact the Davis complaint makes specific reference to split-shift premiums and 15 unreimbursed business expenses. See Stecher Decl. Ex. A.2 16 The Court concludes that on balance, the Colorado River factors warrant a stay of the 17 instant proceedings. Because this case does not involve a res or property, the first Colorado 18 River factor is irrelevant. Although Garcia suggests that the federal courts are a better forum for 19 litigating class actions, she does not make any showing that the Orange Superior Court is an 20 inconvenient or inadequate forum. Maintaining this action while Davis is being litigated will 21 result in a waste of judicial resources, and litigating two concurrent actions may result in 22 unnecessary duplication and conflicting rulings or judgments. A stay will encourage resolution 23 of all the related claims and avoid piecemeal litigation. Davis was filed three years before this 24 25 26 27 28 2 Plaintiff and the Class “were deprived reporting time and split shift pay in violation of IWC Wage Order 4 § 5, and were deprived of mileage reimbursements.” ¶ 49; Defendants “will continue to fail to pay overtime, straight time, meal and rest period, split shift and reporting time wages and mileage reimbursements to Plaintiff and the Class.” ¶ 55; “[T]hese employees were not paid... split shift compensation.” ¶ 64; “[N]one of the Class were ever paid... split shift.” ¶ 65. 3 Case No. 11-cv-00692-JF (PSG) ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO STAY PROCEEDINGS ETC. (JFEX2) 1 action, and both cases raise only state law claims. Finally, Garcia conceded at oral argument that 2 she could take part in Davis as an intervenor or objector if necessary. 3 B. 4 12(b)(6) Dismissal Defendants argue alternatively that the Court should dismiss this action because the FAC 5 fails to state a claim. Because it concludes that a stay is warranted, the Court need not address 6 Defendants’ alternative motion to dismiss. The Court notes, however, that Garcia does not 7 identify who told her to work off the clock; provide the dates when she worked without pay; 8 elaborate how Defendants required her to work split shifts and through her meal and rest periods; 9 or explain what specific policy Defendants had in place to deny her reimbursement of her 10 business expenses. 11 12 IV. ORDER The motion to stay the proceedings is GRANTED. The alternative motion to dismiss is 13 terminated as moot. 14 IT IS SO ORDERED. 15 16 DATE: 8/25/2011 JEREMY FOGEL United States District Judge 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4 Case No. 11-cv-00692-JF (PSG) ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO STAY PROCEEDINGS ETC. (JFEX2)

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?