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Hanks, v. Briad Restaurant Group, L. L. C.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

May 1, 2017

ERIN HANKS,, Plaintiffs,
v.
BRIAD RESTAURANT GROUP, L.L.C., Defendant.

          ORDER

          Gloria M. Navarro, Chief Judge United States District Judge

         Pending 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.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This 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).[1]

         On 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)?

         (Joint Mot. for Certification of Question of Law (“Joint Mot.”) 3:27-28, ECF No. 130).

         The 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.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Joint Motion to Certify Question

         Pursuant 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 request:

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.

         Nev. R. 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).

         Whether 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 and ...


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