Sampson v. Knight Transportation, Inc

Filing 115

ORDER granting 110 Motion for Leave to File Amicus Brief. The Clerk is directed to RENOTE the motion for class certification (Dkt. No. 52 ) for May 4, 2020. Signed by U.S. District Judge John C Coughenour. (TH)

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Case 2:17-cv-00028-JCC Document 115 Filed 05/04/20 Page 1 of 4 THE HONORABLE JOHN C. COUGHENOUR 1 2 3 4 5 6 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT SEATTLE 7 8 9 10 VALERIE SAMPSON and DAVID RAYMON, on their own behalf and on the behalf of all other similarly situated, 11 14 15 16 ORDER Plaintiff, v. 12 13 CASE NO. 17-0028-JCC KNIGHT TRANSPORTATION, INC., an Arizona corporation, KNIGHT REFRIGERATED, LLC, an Arizona limited liability company and KNIGHT PORT SERVICES, LLC, an Arizona limited liability company, 17 Defendant. 18 19 This matter comes before the Court on the Washington State Department of Labor and 20 Industries’ (“L&I”) motion for leave to file an amicus curiae brief (Dkt. No. 110). Having 21 thoroughly considered the motion, the parties’ briefing, and the relevant record, the Court finds 22 oral argument unnecessary and hereby GRANTS the motion for the reasons explained herein. 23 I. 24 BACKGROUND The Court set forth the underlying facts of this case in a previous order and will not 25 repeat them here. (See Dkt. No. 37.) In response to Defendants’ motion for partial summary 26 judgment, Plaintiffs asked the Court to certify a question to the Washington State Supreme Court ORDER 17-0028-JCC PAGE - 1 Case 2:17-cv-00028-JCC Document 115 Filed 05/04/20 Page 2 of 4 1 to determine whether their “on duty, not driving” claim was cognizable under Washington law. 2 (Dkt. No. 80 at 9.) The Court certified the following question: “Does the Washington Minimum 3 Wage Act [(“MWA”)] require non-agricultural employers to pay their piece-rate employees per 4 hour for time spent performing activities outside of piece-rate work?” (Dkt. No. 92 at 17.) The 5 Washington Supreme Court answered “no,” holding that “WAC 296-126-021 implements the 6 MWA and allows employers to use workweek averaging to measure compliance with the MWA 7 for nonagricultural workers paid on a piecework basis.” Sampson v. Knight Transportation, Inc., 8 448 P.3d 9, 17 (Wash. 2019); (Dkt. No. 108 at 2). Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification is 9 pending before the Court for consideration, and the parties have supplied supplemental briefing 10 addressing the Washington Supreme Court’s answer to the certified question. (See Dkt. Nos. 11 108, 109.) L&I now moves for leave to file an amicus brief concerning the impacts on 12 Washington law of a recent Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) decision 13 regarding a California labor law. (Dkt. No. 110 at 1–2.) 14 II. 15 DISCUSSION District courts have “broad discretion” regarding the appointment of amici. Hoptowit v. 16 Ray, 682 F.2d 1237, 1260 (9th Cir. 1982). District courts frequently welcome amicus briefs from 17 non-parties “concerning legal issues that have potential ramifications beyond the parties directly 18 involved.” Skokomish Indian Tribe v. Goldmark, Case No. C13-5071-JLR, Dkt. No. 91 at 1 19 (W.D. Wash. 2013) (quoting Ryan v. Commodity Futures Trading Comm’n, 125 F.3d 1062, 1064 20 (7th Cir. 1997)). The Ninth Circuit has said “there is no rule that amici must be totally 21 disinterested.” Funbus Sys., Inc. v. State of Cal. Pub. Utils. Comm’n, 801 F.2d 1120, 1125 (9th 22 Cir. 1986) (citation omitted); See Hoptowit, 682 F.2d at 1260 (affirming district court’s 23 appointment of amicus curiae, although amicus entirely supported only one party’s arguments). 24 L&I has submitted a motion for leave to file an amicus brief to provide Washington’s 25 interpretation of the labor laws at issue in this case. L&I asserts that leave to file an amicus brief 26 is appropriate “based on the interest and unique perspective that L&I can provide in these ORDER 17-0028-JCC PAGE - 2 Case 2:17-cv-00028-JCC Document 115 Filed 05/04/20 Page 3 of 4 1 circumstances.” (Dkt. No. 110 at 3.) L&I is the Washington State agency that enforces laws 2 respecting working conditions and wages of employees of business and industry in the state. (See 3 id.); Wash. Rev. Code § 43.22.270(4). These regulations encompass Washington’s rest break 4 rules, which are central to this case. (Dkt. No. 110 at 3.) In its proposed amicus brief, L&I opines 5 that the FMCSA decision preempts California’s meal-and-rest break laws as applied to certain 6 drivers, but it does not apply to Washington law under the standards set forth in 49 U.S.C. § 7 31141. (Dkt. No. 110-1 at 1–3.) That statute gives the Secretary of Transportation power to 8 preempt a particular state regulation “after applying statutory standards to that regulation.” (Id. at 9 8.) 10 Plaintiffs support L&I’s motion for leave to file an amicus brief in the event “the Court 11 finds it necessary to analyze the merits” of Plaintiffs’ claim for class certification. (Dkt. No. 113 12 at 1.) Defendants argue that the FMCSA preemption determination regarding California law 13 should be applicable to similar laws in Washington State. (Dkt. No. 112 at 8–9). Defendants 14 argue that L&I’s amicus brief “adds nothing,” attempts to “opine on the preemptive effect of a 15 federal statute it does not administer,” and is duplicative of arguments made by Plaintiffs. (Id. at 16 7.) Defendants contend that L&I’s arguments are meritless because the Washington laws at issue 17 are “substantially similar to California’s and are thus preempted” for the same reason. (Id. at 7.) 18 Defendants state that L&I’s amicus brief does not convey the arguments of an impacted 19 individual but rather “reiterates the same exact arguments made by Plaintiffs.” (Id. at 8.) 20 Defendants also assert that L&I’s brief addresses only the preemptive force of the FMCSA 21 determination and does not provide “particular expertise and insight” on applicable Washington 22 labor laws. (Dkt. No. 110-1 at 8.) 23 A determination regarding FMCSA’s effect on Washington labor law is likely to impact 24 parties outside the immediate litigation as these laws apply to all applicable Washington business 25 and industry, not just these parties. L&I’s informed position on the effects of the FMCSA 26 determination on Washington’s labor laws and regulations may prove helpful to the Court. ORDER 17-0028-JCC PAGE - 3 Case 2:17-cv-00028-JCC Document 115 Filed 05/04/20 Page 4 of 4 1 Therefore, the motion for leave to file an amicus brief is GRANTED. 2 III. CONCLUSION 3 For the foregoing reasons, the motion for leave to file an amicus curiae brief (Dkt. No. 4 110) is GRANTED. The Clerk is directed to RENOTE the motion for class certification (Dkt. 5 No. 52) for May 4, 2020. 6 DATED this 4th day of May 2020. A 7 8 9 John C. Coughenour UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 ORDER 17-0028-JCC PAGE - 4

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