United States District Court, D. Nevada
M. Navarro, Chief Judge United States District Judge
before the Court is the Joint Motion for Certification of
Question of Law to the Nevada Supreme Court, (ECF No. 130),
filed by Plaintiffs Erin Hanks, Jeffrey Anderson, and Robert
Baker (collectively “Plaintiffs”), and Defendant
Briad Restaurant Group, LLC (“Defendant”). For
the reasons discussed below, the Court
DENIES the Joint Motion.
case arises out of alleged violations of an amendment to the
Nevada Constitution setting certain minimum wage requirements
for employers (the “Minimum Wage Amendment”).
Plaintiffs are employees of the restaurant chain TGI
Friday's and work at several of the chain's various
locations throughout Nevada. (Am. Compl. ¶ 1, ECF No.
6). Plaintiffs allege that this action “is a result of
[Defendant's] failure to pay Plaintiffs and other
similarly-situated employees who are members of the Class the
lawful minimum wage, because [Defendant] improperly claimed
eligibility to compensate employees at a reduced minimum wage
rate under Nev. Const. art. XV, § 16.”
(Id. ¶ 2).
September 15, 2015, the Court granted a temporary stay of the
case pending resolution of a certified question to the Nevada
Supreme Court, denying with leave to refile the parties'
Motions for Summary Judgment. (Orders, ECF Nos. 118, 123). On
October 27, 2016, the Nevada Supreme Court answered the
certified question. See MDC Rests., LLC v. Eighth
Judicial Dist. Court of State in & for County of
Clark, 383 P.3d 262, 265 (Nev. 2016). In light of this
ruling, Plaintiffs filed a Renewed Motion to Certify Class,
(ECF No. 127), on December 15, 2016, and Defendants filed a
Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment, (ECF No. 128), the next
day. Shortly thereafter, the parties filed the instant Joint
Motion for Certification of a Question of Law, (ECF No. 130),
asking the Court to certify an additional question to the
Nevada Supreme Court:
What constitutes “health benefits” offered by an
employer for purposes of paying below the upper-tier minimum
hourly wage rate under Nev. Const. art XV, sec 16(A)?
Mot. for Certification of Question of Law (“Joint
Mot.”) 3:27-28, ECF No. 130).
parties also filed a Stipulation and Order for Temporary Stay
of Briefing Deadlines (“Stipulation”).
(See ECF No. 132). In the Stipulation, the parties
ask the Court for a temporary stay on briefing deadlines
until determination of their Joint Motion. (Id.
1:27-2:2). If the Court denies the Stipulation, the parties
request that “the Court extend the time in which
Plaintiffs may respond to Defendants' Renewed Motion for
Summary Judgment.” (Id. 2:3-5). The Court did
not issue ruling on the Stipulation, and the parties have not
filed any subsequent briefing.
Joint Motion to Certify Question
to Nevada Rule of Appellate Procedure 5, the Nevada Supreme
Court may answer questions of law certified to it by a United
States District Court upon the certifying court's
if there are involved in any proceeding before those courts
questions of law of this state which may be determinative of
the cause then pending in the certifying court and as to
which it appears to the certifying court there is no
controlling precedent in the decisions of the supreme court
of this state.
App. P. 5(a); see also Volvo Cars of N. Am., Inc. v.
Ricci, 137 P.3d 1161, 1163-64 (Nev. 2006). A certifying
court may invoke Rule 5 upon its own motion or upon the
motion of any party. Nev. R. App. P. 5(b).
to certify a question to the state's highest court lies
within the federal court's discretion. Lehman Bros.
v. Schein, 416 U.S. 386, 391 (1974). Factors a federal
court should consider in exercising this discretion include
whether the state law question presents a significant
question of important state public policy, whether the issue
involved has broad application, whether law from other states
is instructive, the state court's case load, and comity