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Gonzalez v. Diamond Resorts International Marketing, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

October 10, 2019

DANIEL GONZALEZ, et al., Plaintiffs,



         Pending before the Court are the parties' supplemental briefs. Docket Nos. 69. 70. The Court begins by noting what is not currently before it. On July 29, 2019, United States Magistrate Judge Carl W. Hoffman issued an order, inter alia, conditionally certifying a collective action, requiring notice to potential plaintiffs, and addressing various other aspects of the collective action aspect of this case. Docket No. 52. Upon Judge Hoffman's retirement, the undersigned was assigned to the case. Docket No. 55. As a general matter, judges newly assigned to a case do not change course from the decisions that were entered previously. See, e.g., Fairbank v. Wunderman Cato Johnson, 212 F.3d 528, 530 (9th Cir. 2000) (citing Castner v. First Nat'l Bank of Anchorage, 278 F.2d 376, 397 (9th Cir. 1960)). At this juncture, the only issues before the Court are whether (1) the words “sales representatives” should be deleted from the amended proposed notice, (2) the sentence “Defendants, and their owners, officers, directors, and management staff are not permitted to discuss this case with you or to discuss whether you should or should not be included in the lawsuit” should be deleted from the amended proposed notice, and (3) Defendants must provide the personal email addresses for current employees. Accordingly, the undersigned's evaluation of this matter is limited to these discrete topics, which are addressed in turn below.


         The parties first dispute whether the amended proposed notice properly provides a passing reference to “sales representatives.” Docket No. 69 at 5-6; Docket No. 70 at 5-6. Judge Hoffman already addressed Defendants' concerns that the technical job title at issue in this case is “Vacation Counselors, ” finding as follows:

Lastly, while plaintiffs refer to the job title for the putative class members as “Sales Representatives, ” rather than the technical term of “Vacation Counselors, ” the court still finds that plaintiff have identified a tenable class because of the duties and responsibilities associated with the position. However, given that plaintiffs concede the technical term of the position, the court finds it necessary for plaintiffs to modify the collective class definition to include “Vacation Counselors.” Plaintiffs are also ordered to modify their proposed notice and consent form to include “Vacation Counselors.”

Docket No. 52 at 4. In light of Judge Hoffman's ruling, the amended proposed notice is addressed to “All Current and Former Individuals [sic][1] Who, at Any Time Since March 20, 2016, Held the Position of Vacation Counselor, acting as sales representatives, at Diamond Resorts.” Docket No. 70-1 at 2.

         This sentence is plainly consistent with Judge Hoffman's previous order to include the job title “Vacation Counselors.” Moreover, the undersigned finds nothing objectionable about the additional inclusion of “acting as sales representatives.” Accordingly, Defendants' request to change that language is DENIED.


         The parties next dispute whether it is appropriate for the notice to include a sentence stating that Defendants are not permitted to discuss the case with the potential opt-in plaintiffs. Docket No. 69 at 6-7; Docket No. 70 at 6-7. Plaintiffs argue as a threshold matter that this issue was already resolved by Judge Hoffman and that Defendants are attempting to get a second bite at the apple in light of his retirement. Docket No. 70 at 6. Defendants argue that Judge Hoffman's order did not expressly address this issue, such that it remains a live issue that should be addressed now. See Docket No. 69 at 6 n.4. Plaintiffs have the better argument.

         Defendants concede that they presented this very same argument to Judge Hoffman in the motion practice on conditional certification. Id. Judge Hoffman addressed at length the various arguments presented by the parties with respect to notice and ultimately concluded that: “Plaintiffs are instructed to make all necessary changes consistent with this order, and to meet and confer with defendants' counsel prior to resubmitting an amended proposed notice and consent form.” Docket No. 52 at 8 (emphasis added). Courts are not required to address every argument presented by parties and unaddressed arguments are deemed rejected to the extent inconsistent with the Court's ruling. See, e.g., Gates v. Deukmejian, 987 F.2d 1392, 1400 (9th Cir. 1992) (“we will presume that the district court implicitly rejected those specific challenges to plaintiffs' billing judgment deductions that it did not expressly discuss in its order” (emphasis in original)). In this case, Judge Hoffman thoroughly addressed the proposed notice and identified the required changes to it, changes that did not include omitting the sentence at issue in Defendants' argument. It seems plain that in so doing Judge Hoffman was rejecting the argument that Defendants now attempt to resurrect.

         Defendants have not addressed the applicable standards for reconsideration of a predecessor judge's rulings, let alone shown that they are met here.[2] The undersigned declines to require that the disputed sentence be omitted from the notice. Accordingly, Defendants' request to omit this sentence is DENIED.


         The parties next dispute whether personal or company emails should be provided for current employees. Docket No. 69 at 7-9; Docket No. 70 at 7-8. Judge Hoffman previously ordered Defendants to “provide plaintiffs' counsel with the . . . email address for putative class members.” Docket No. 52 at 11. Defendants provided personal email addresses for former employees who are potential opt-in plaintiffs, as well as for current employees who do not have a work email address. Docket No. 69 at 7. For the balance of current employees who are potential opt-in plaintiffs, however, Defendants have provided only their work email address and refused to provide their personal email address. See Id. Plaintiffs contend that privacy and privilege concerns make it more prudent to utilize the personal email addresses of current employees given that work emails can be monitored. Docket No. 70 at 7. Defendants counter that they must protect the privacy interest employees have in their personal email addresses and worry that revelation of that information could be used by Plaintiffs' counsel for improper purposes. Docket No. 69 at 8-9. Plaintiffs have the better argument.

         The FLSA itself does not indicate the form of notice that the plaintiffs may use to reach other potential collective action members. See 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). Moreover, the Supreme Court has “confirm[ed] the existence of the trial court's discretion [with respect to notice], not the details of its exercise.” Hoffman-La Roche Inc. v. Sperling, 493 U.S. 165, 170 (1989). Courts routinely require the production of email addresses to ensure sufficient notice to potential opt-in plaintiffs. See, e.g., Lewis v. Wells Fargo & Co., 669 F.Supp.2d 1124, 1128 (N.D. Cal. 2009). With respect to which email ...

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