Rojas v. Uber Technologies, Inc.
ORDER DENYING TRANSFER re: pldg. (8 in FLS/1:16-cv-23670, 10 in MDL No. 2784, 6 in NCM/1:16-cv-00998, 6 in TNE/3:16-cv-00371), ( 3 in MDL No. 2784), ( 1 in MDL No. 2784) The motion to transfer, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1407, is DENIEDSigned by Judge Sarah S. Vance, Chair, PANEL ON MULTIDISTRICT LITIGATION, on 5/30/2017. Associated Cases: MDL No. 2784, FLS/1:16-cv-23670, NCM/1:16-cv-00998, TNE/3:16-cv-00371 (CMD)
UNITED STATES JUDICIAL PANEL
IN RE: UBER TECHNOLOGIES, INC., WAGE
AND HOUREMPLOYMENT PRACTICES
LITIGATION (No. II)
MDL No. 2784
ORDER DENYING TRANSFER
Before the Panel:* Plaintiff in one action in the Southern District of Florida (Rojas) moves
under 28 U.S.C. § 1407 to centralize this litigation in the Southern District of Florida. This litigation
currently consists of three actions pending in three districts, as listed on Schedule A. This litigation
arises from the allegation that defendants Uber Technologies, Inc., and its subsidiaries1 (collectively,
Uber), misclassify Uber transportation providers as independent contractors instead of employees
and, thus, have not paid minimum wage, overtime wages, and work-related expenses, all in violation
of the Fair Labor Standards Act.2
The Uber defendants and all responding plaintiffs oppose centralization. Alternatively,
plaintiffs in the Romine and Hood actions on Schedule A propose the Middle District of North
Carolina or the Eastern District of Tennessee as the transferee district. Objecting plaintiffs in one
potential tag-along action (Razak) alternatively propose the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Misclassification litigation against Uber has a history before the Panel. In February 2016,
we denied a motion for centralization filed by a different group of plaintiffs seeking centralization
of actions raising substantially the same misclassification allegation against Uber, but asserting the
claims under state law, rather than federal law. See In re: Uber Techs., Inc. Wage and Hour Emp’t
Practices Litig., MDL No. 2686, 158 F. Supp. 3d 1372, 1373 (J.P.M.L. 2016) (Uber No. I). The
motion sought centralization of seven actions pending in seven districts against Uber Technologies,
Inc., and one subsidiary. At that time, there were ten potentially related actions. In denying
centralization, we observed that the actions involved common factual issues, but determined that
Judge Lewis A. Kaplan took no part in the decision of this matter.
The alleged subsidiaries, which are co-defendants in various actions, are: Rasier LLC,
Rasier-CA, LLC, Rasier-PA, LLC, Rasier-DC, LLC, Rasier-MT, LLC, and Hinter-NM, LLC.
Since the filing of the motion for centralization, the Panel has been notified of 13 related
actions involving FLSA claims. Additionally, the Panel is aware of at least four pending actions
alleging similar misclassification claims under state law.
-2voluntary coordination was preferable to centralization for a number of reasons: (1) “the standards
for determining whether independent contractors are employees vary substantially from state to state
and involve a broad range of factors which require consideration of distinct aspects of the alleged
employer’s relationship with plaintiffs”; (2) the actions “involve[d] non-overlapping certified and
putative state-specific classes”; (3) there were a limited number of involved counsel, and a common
defendant; and (4) one advanced action (O’Connor) was nearing the end of pretrial proceedings. See
id. Since issuance of that decision, the majority of the actions that were before the Panel have been
terminated, certain actions have continued to advance, and new misclassification actions asserting
claims under federal and/or state law have been filed.
In this second motion for centralization, the movant argues that centralization of the three
actions he has selected for his motion is warranted because they are nearly identical nationwide
FLSA actions on behalf of substantially the same proposed collective of Uber drivers. In opposing
centralization, Uber and plaintiffs in Hood, Romine, and Razak principally argue that (1) the Panel’s
concern over centralization of state-specific issues in Uber No. I still is applicable because the Hood,
Romine, and Razak actions – and many other related actions – involve pending state law claims and
putative state-specific classes; (2) the actions are in procedurally disparate postures; and (3)
voluntary coordination remains preferable to centralization.
On the basis of the papers filed and the hearing session held, we conclude that centralization
will not serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses or further the just and efficient conduct
of the litigation. First, although movant attempts to get around the obstacles to centralization noted
in Uber No. I by seeking centralization only of nationwide FLSA misclassification claims, the
inclusion of actions with significant state-specific issues would be unavoidable, as two of the three
actions on the motion and nearly all potential tag-along actions assert state law claims and putative
statewide or citywide classes. Movant asks that the Panel eliminate the state-specific issues by
separating and remanding all state law and class certification claims from any action centralized in
the MDL. But on this record, such an approach would result in the proliferation of duplicative
litigation, as nearly every action centralized would require separation and remand – ironically,
exacerbating the problem of duplicative litigation that centralization is intended to remedy.
Moreover, centralization based on the statute invoked, as movant proposes, is inconsistent with the
Section 1407 directive to centralize actions based on “one or more common questions of fact,” in
contrast to common questions of law.
Second, the procedural disparity among the actions further weighs against centralization. In
Rojas, fact discovery is set to close shortly after the Panel hearing, and a trial date has been set for
this fall. The other two actions on the motion have not yet commenced discovery.3
The procedural postures of the potential tag-along actions further confirm the likelihood
of inefficiencies from centralization. Most are at varying stages of motions practice, which involve
case-specific motions to compel arbitration and motions to dismiss concerning state law. At least
-3Third, voluntary coordination remains practicable. There are only three actions on the
motion, involving two groups of plaintiffs’ firms. Those two firms represent plaintiffs in 7 of the
13 potential tag-along actions. Uber Technologies, Inc., and its wholly-owned subsidiaries are the
sole defendants in these actions, and are represented by the same defense counsel in all actions. All
responding plaintiffs and Uber represent that they are committed to voluntary coordination.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the motion for centralization of the actions listed on
Schedule A is denied.
PANEL ON MULTIDISTRICT LITIGATION
Sarah S. Vance
Marjorie O. Rendell
Ellen Segal Huvelle
Catherine D. Perry
two have reached an advanced stage of discovery.
Charles R. Breyer
R. David Proctor
IN RE: UBER TECHNOLOGIES, INC., WAGE
AND HOUR EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES
LITIGATION (No. II)
MDL No. 2784
Southern District of Florida
ROJAS v. UBER TECHNOLOGIES, INC., ET AL., C.A. No. 1:16-23670
Middle District of North Carolina
HOOD v. UBER TECHNOLOGIES, INC., ET AL., C.A. No. 1:16-00998
Eastern District of Tennessee
ROMINE v. UBER TECHNOLOGIES, INC., ET AL., C.A. No. 3:16-00371
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