Crossfit, Inc. v. National Strength and Conditioning Association

Filing 171

ORDER (1) Denying 126 Motion for Certificate of Interlocutory Appeal, And (2) Denying as Moot 126 Motion to Stay. It is ordered that the Court concludes that defendant has not sufficiently established that this case is one of the few " ;exceptional" ones that warrants certifying an interlocutory appeal. Accordingly, the Court denies defendant's motion for interlocutory appeal, and denies as moot defendant's motion to stay. Signed by Judge Janis L. Sammartino on 4/3/2017. (dxj)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 12 CROSSFIT, INC., a Delaware corporation, 15 16 ORDER (1) DENYING MOTION FOR CERTIFICATION OF INTERLOCUTORY APPEAL, AND (2) DENYING AS MOOT MOTION TO STAY Plaintiff, 13 14 Case No.: 14cv1191 JLS (KSC) v. NATIONAL STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING ASSOCIATION, a Colorado corporation, (ECF No. 126) Defendant. 17 18 19 Presently before the Court is Defendant’s Motion for Certification Under 28 U.S.C. 20 § 1292(b) and Motion to Stay (“Mot. for Interloc. Appeal”). (ECF No. 126.) Also before 21 the Court are Plaintiff’s Opposition to, (ECF No. 132), and Defendant’s Reply in Support 22 of, (ECF No. 139), Defendant’s Motion for Interlocutory Appeal. The Court took the 23 Motion for Interlocutory Appeal under submission without oral argument pursuant to Civil 24 Local Rule 7.1(d)(1). (ECF No. 141.) Having considered the Parties’ arguments and the 25 law, the Court DENIES Defendant’s Motion for Interlocutory Appeal. 26 /// 27 /// 28 /// 1 14cv1191 JLS (KSC) 1 BACKGROUND 2 CrossFit brought suit against the National Strength and Conditioning Association 3 (“NSCA”) for damages flowing from a NSCA-published study that attributed incorrect 4 injury data to certain study participants’ use of the CrossFit program. (See generally First 5 Am. Compl., ECF No. 71-6.) CrossFit asserts that this alleged wrong constitutes various 6 causes of action, including (1) False Advertising under the Lanham Act (15 U.S.C. 7 § 1125(a)); (2) False Advertising under California Business and Professions Code section 8 17500; (3) Unfair Competition under California Business and Professions Code section 9 17200; and (4) a common-law claim for trade libel. (Id.) However, causes of action (1)– 10 (3) may only be maintained in the present case if the NSCA-published study is legally 11 classified as “commercial speech.” 12 Attempting to foreclose these claims, NSCA moved for summary judgment on the 13 commercial speech issue. (ECF No. 102.) The Court denied the Motion as to that issue, 14 and concluded that a reasonable trier of fact could conclude both that the injury data 15 constituted commercial speech and that the data were not “inextricably intertwined with 16 the remainder of the article.” (Order (1) Granting CrossFit Inc.’s Partial MSJ and (2) 17 Granting in Part and Den. in Part Nat’l Strength and Conditioning Ass’n’s MSJ 9–14, ECF 18 No. 121.) NSCA now moves the Court to certify a particular aspect of that ruling for 19 interlocutory appeal, specifically 20 whether under the first step of the Ninth Circuit’s commercial speech test set forth in Dex Media West, Inc. v. City of Seattle, 696 F.3d 952, 957 (9th Cir. 2012), a court is limited to considering only the speech itself—and should not consider extrinsic evidence of the speaker’s economic motivation and purported falsity or fabrication of the speech—when determining whether speech “does no more than propose a commercial transaction” under the traditional “core” commercial speech test from Virginia State Bd. of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, Inc., 425 U.S. 748 (1976). 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 (Mot. for Interloc. Appeal 1.) 28 /// 2 14cv1191 JLS (KSC) 1 LEGAL STANDARD 2 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b) provides, in pertinent part, that a district judge may certify an 3 order for immediate interlocutory appeal if the judge is “of the opinion” that: (1) the order 4 “involves a controlling question of law”; (2) there is “substantial ground for difference of 5 opinion” as to the resolution of that question; and (3) “an immediate appeal from the order 6 may materially advance the ultimate termination of the litigation.” See Kaltwasser v. AT&T 7 Mobility, 2011 WL 5417085, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 8, 2011); In re LDK Solar Sec. Litig., 8 584 F. Supp. 2d 1230, 1258 (N.D. Cal. 2008). All three criteria must be met. Couch v. 9 Telescope Inc., 611 F.3d 629, 633 (9th Cir. 2010). And such certification should only be 10 granted “in extraordinary cases where decision of an interlocutory appeal might avoid 11 protracted and expensive litigation.” U.S. Rubber Co. v. Wright, 359 F.2d 784, 785 (9th 12 Cir. 1966). 13 ANALYSIS 14 Defendant fails to demonstrate that this is an exceptional case warranting an override 15 of the general policy disfavoring piecemeal appeals. Although Defendant makes a solid 16 case that the commercial-speech issue involves a controlling issue of law and that there is 17 a substantial ground for difference of opinion as to the resolution of the issue presented, 18 Defendant fails to establish the third criterion. Specifically, Defendant admits that even if 19 the Court certified the commercial speech issue for interlocutory appeal and the Circuit 20 disagreed with this Court, “CrossFit would be left with its trade libel claim . . . .” (Recon. 21 Mot. 2.) “As a result, . . . the case would still proceed to trial based on [another] theory.” 22 Ill. Union Ins. Co. v. Intuitive Surgical, Inc., No. 13-CV-04863-JST, 2016 WL 5905935, 23 at *3 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 11, 2016) (denying motion for interlocutory appeal due to same). And 24 here, the elements largely overlap between trade libel and at least one of the claims 25 implicated by the requested interlocutory appeal. Compare New.Net, Inc. v. Lavasoft, 356 26 F. Supp. 2d 1090, 1113 (C.D. Cal. 2004) (“To prove trade libel, Plaintiff must show (1) a 27 statement that (2) was false, (3) disparaging, (4) published to others in writing, (5) induced 28 others not to deal with it, and (6) caused special damages.”), with Southland Sod Farms v. 3 14cv1191 JLS (KSC) 1 Stover Seed Co., 108 F.3d 1134, 1139 (9th Cir. 1997) (“The elements of a Lanham Act 2 § 43(a) false advertising claim are: (1) a false statement of fact by the defendant in a 3 commercial advertisement about its own or another’s product; (2) the statement actually 4 deceived or has the tendency to deceive a substantial segment of its audience; (3) the 5 deception is material, in that it is likely to influence the purchasing decision; (4) the 6 defendant caused its false statement to enter interstate commerce; and (5) the plaintiff has 7 been or is likely to be injured as a result of the false statement . . . .” (footnotes omitted)). 8 Therefore, evidence presented at trial will largely be the same regardless of the outcome of 9 the requested interlocutory appeal, and Defendant’s assertions that “a favorable appeal can 10 influence different avenues for resolution of the case” and “streamline trial and simplify 11 (or obviate) any post-judgment appeal” do not alone make this an “extraordinary case” for 12 purposes of interlocutory appeal certification. See Yeager v. Cingular Wireless LLC, No. 13 207CV02517FCDGGH, 2010 WL 935431, at *2 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 15, 2010) (certifying 14 interlocutory appeal on commercial-speech issue because Circuit classifying speech 15 differently would “call[] into question” the “viability of all of plaintiff’s claims[,]” but 16 Circuit ultimately denying same interlocutory appeal (Yeager v. AT&T Mobility, LLC, Case 17 No. 10-80074 (9th Cir. Jun. 14, 2010) (ECF No. 5))). 18 Additionally, and as Plaintiff notes in its Opposition, “Defendant[’s] certification 19 ‘[m]otion comes after [multiple] years of extensive discovery and dispositive motion 20 practice” and was filed very close to “final resolution of this matter at trial . . . .” Cali. 21 Sportfishing Prot. All. v. Chico Scrap Metal, Inc., No. 2:10-CV-01207-GEB-AC, 2016 WL 22 64419, at *2 (E.D. Cal. Jan. 5, 2016) (quoting Cmty. Ass’n for Restoration of the Env’t, 23 Inc. v. Cow Palace, LLC, No. 2:13-CV-3016-TOR, 2015 WL 403178, at *2 (E.D. Wash. 24 Jan. 28, 2015)). Although the trial deadlines have now been postponed due to alleged 25 discovery misconduct by Defendant, it is nonetheless true that, “[a]t this late stage in the 26 action, ‘allowing an interlocutory appeal would [not] avoid protracted and expensive 27 litigation.’ ” Cali. Sportfishing, 2016 WL 64419, at *2 (second alteration in original) 28 (quoting In re Cement Antitrust Litig., 673 F.2d 1020, 1026 (9th Cir. 1982)); see Mann v. 4 14cv1191 JLS (KSC) 1 Cty. of San Diego, No. 3:11-CV-0708-GPC-BGS, 2016 WL 245480, at *3 (S.D. Cal. Jan. 2 21, 2016) (“Immediate appeal may be found inappropriate if there is a good prospect that 3 . . . the character of the trial is not likely to be affected.” (quoting 16 Charles Alan Wright 4 & Arthur R. Miller et al., Federal Practice and Procedure § 3930 (3d ed. 2017))). 5 CONCLUSION 6 Given the foregoing, the Court concludes that Defendant has not sufficiently 7 established that this case is one of the few “exceptional” ones that warrants certifying an 8 interlocutory appeal. Accordingly, the Court DENIES Defendant’s Motion for 9 Interlocutory Appeal, and DENIES AS MOOT Defendant’s Motion to Stay. 10 11 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: April 3, 2017 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 5 14cv1191 JLS (KSC)

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