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Risinger v. SOC LLC

United States District Court, D. Nevada

September 30, 2019

KARL E. RISINGER, Plaintiff,
v.
SOC LLC, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          MIRANDA M. DU, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. SUMMARY

         This is a former class action involving a dispute over the terms of employment for armed guards hired to work in Iraq. Before the Court is Plaintiff Karl E. Risinger's motion for reconsideration (“Motion”) (ECF No. 370) of the Court's order decertifying the class (ECF No. 362), as well as Plaintiff's motion to seal exhibits attached to the Motion (ECF No. 371). The Court finds it unnecessary to consider additional briefing related to the Motion. For the following reasons, the Court denies Plaintiff's Motion. The Court agrees with Plaintiff that compelling reasons exist to seal the exhibits designated as confidential under the Protective Order and will grant the motion to seal.

         II. BACKGROUND

         The Court certified a class in this case consisting “of armed guards who worked for SOC in Iraq between 2006 and 2012.” (ECF No. 254 at 7 (citing ECF No. 155 at 19, 27).) The Court later clarified that certain guards known as Reclassified Guards were members of the class. (See ECF No. 281 at 2-4.) The Court then decertified the class after Defendants introduced evidence showing that some class members had no damages, and Plaintiff failed to offer any feasible method for identifying and removing those individuals from the class. (See generally ECF No. 362.) The Court's decision was predicated on the legal conclusion that damages and liability are intertwined in the context of Plaintiff's claims. (Id. at 6; see also ECF No. 155 at 6, 14 (listing damages as an element of Plaintiff's fraud claim as well as Plaintiff's breach of contract claim).) Given that legal context, the Court found that individualized questions about liability predominated over common questions and that the class was unmanageable besides. (See generally ECF No. 362.)

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         A motion to reconsider must set forth “some valid reason why the court should reconsider its prior decision” and set “forth facts or law of a strongly convincing nature to persuade the court to reverse its prior decision.” Frasure v. United States, 256 F.Supp.2d 1180, 1183 (D. Nev. 2003). Reconsideration is appropriate if this Court “(1) is presented with newly discovered evidence, (2) committed clear error or the initial decision was manifestly unjust, or (3) if there is an intervening change in controlling law.” Sch. Dist. No. 1J v. AC&S, Inc., 5 F.3d 1255, 1263 (9th Cir. 1993). “A motion for reconsideration is not an avenue to re-litigate the same issues and arguments upon which the court already has ruled.” Brown v. Kinross Gold, U.S.A., 378 F.Supp.2d 1280, 1288 (D. Nev. 2005).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         The Court addresses Plaintiff's arguments related to predominance before addressing Plaintiff's arguments related to manageability and the creation of subclasses.

         A. Predominance

         The Court found that individualized questions regarding liability predominated over common questions based on Defendants' undisputed evidence that some class members never worked more than the 6-day/12-hour work schedule in conjunction with Plaintiff's failure to offer a feasible way to isolate and extract those individuals from the class. (See ECF No. 362 at 7.)

         Plaintiff first argues that the Court committed clear error by weighing the evidence. (ECF No. 370 at 12.) According to Plaintiff, the Court weighed the testimony of class members who did not work more than the 6-day/12-hour work schedule against the testimony of Defendants' 30(b)(6) designees and the declarations of 24 class members who did work more than the 6-day/12-hour work schedule. (See Id. at 12-13.)

         It was not necessary for the Court to weigh any evidence to conclude that individual questions of liability predominate over common questions in this case. It is undisputed that some class members never worked more than the 6-day/12-hour work schedule and that others did so for a variety of reasons, including personal choice. (See ECF No. 362 at 6-12.) Plaintiff's purportedly common proof that class members worked more than the 6-day/12-hour work schedule (a uniform policy of understaffing) turned out not to be common at all. Defendants introduced evidence that class members at many sites never worked more than the 6-day/12-hour work schedule. (See Id. at 6-8.) Plaintiff did not dispute the evidence, nor did Plaintiff's purported common proof rebut it. It was not necessary for the Court to evaluate credibility or consider the weight of competing evidence. Rather, it was clear and undisputed that some class members never worked more than the 6-day/12-hour work schedule. And Plaintiff failed to offer a feasible method for weeding those individuals out of the class. Plaintiff suggested that the Court hire a special master to conduct more than 1, 000 individualized inquiries. The Court found that those individualized inquiries would predominate over any common questions. (ECF No. 362 at 9.)

         Plaintiff next argues that the Court clearly erred by extrapolating to the entire class the testimony of four class members who did not work more than the 6-day/12-hour work schedule. (ECF No. 370 at 13-14.) The Court did not extrapolate their testimony to the entire class. Rather, the presence of some members in the class to whom Defendants have no liability-in conjunction with Plaintiff's failure to offer a way to identify them- demonstrates that individualized questions about liability predominate over common questions. Moreover, Plaintiff ignores the undisputed (and sweeping) testimony of certain class members that guards at entire sites never worked more than the 6-day/12-hour work schedule. (See ECF No. 362 at 8 n.6 (citing testimony that guards at Taji and Adder did not work more than the 6-day/12-hour work ...


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