530 F.Supp. 267 (N.D.Cal. 1981), C-80-4021, Juarez v. Quintero

Docket NºC-80-4021 WHO.
Citation530 F.Supp. 267
Party NameJose P. JUAREZ, Maura R. Juarez, Imelda Fernandez, Gilberto Castro, Individually and on Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated, Plaintiffs, v. Jesus QUINTERO, John Fernandez, Guadalupe Barragan, Ramiro Rodriguez, Jose Rodriguez, and Manuel Salinas, Defendants.
Case DateMay 12, 1981
CourtUnited States District Courts, 9th Circuit

Page 267

530 F.Supp. 267 (N.D.Cal. 1981)

Jose P. JUAREZ, Maura R. Juarez, Imelda Fernandez, Gilberto Castro, Individually and on Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated, Plaintiffs,

v.

Jesus QUINTERO, John Fernandez, Guadalupe Barragan, Ramiro Rodriguez, Jose Rodriguez, and Manuel Salinas, Defendants.

No. C-80-4021 WHO.

United States District Court, D. California.

May 12, 1981

Page 268

Lydia Gonzalez, Timothy H. McCarthy, William W. Monning, California Rural Legal Assistance Migrant Farmworker Project, Salinas, Cal., Susan Matcham, Dominguez, Saucedo, Hernandez & Matcham, California Rural Legal Assistance, Gilroy, Cal., for plaintiffs.

Pioda, Bryan & Ames, Salinas, Cal., for defendant Quintero.

No counsel of record listed for defendant Fernandez.

Jaime M. Cervantes, Flores, Cervantes and Luna, San Jose, Cal., for defendant Guadalupe Barragan.

A. Randall Smith, Sims & Plank, San Jose, Cal., for defendant Ramiro Rodriguez.

Frank H. James, Salinas, Cal., for defendant Jose Rodriguez.

Michael E. Adams, La Casa Legal De San Jose, San Jose, Cal., for defendant Manuel Salinas.

OPINION

ORRICK, District Judge.

Plaintiffs, four migrant farmworkers who worked for Bob Filice Farms in Gilroy, California, during the month of July, 1980, bring this suit as individuals and as representatives of a class under s 2050a of the Farm Labor Contractor Registration Act ("the Act"), 7 U.S.C. s 2041 et seq., 1 against

Page 269

defendants, each of whom worked as a farm labor contractor, charging they violated the Act by failing to disclose the fact that plaintiffs were out on strike to farmworkers recruited to fill plaintiffs' positions. The Act requires farm labor contractors to disclose the existence of a strike or any other concerted work stoppage to the farmworkers they recruit. 7 U.S.C. s 2045. 2

Defendant Ramiro Rodriguez has moved this Court for dismissal of the action on the ground that plaintiffs lack standing to enforce the provisions of the Act. He argues, first, that s 2050a, which provides a private right of action to "any person claiming to be aggrieved" by a violation of the Act, was not intended by Congress to grant standing to striking workers who had never dealt directly with the farm labor contractors sued and, second, that no causal connection exists between the alleged violations and the injury suffered by plaintiffs. For the reasons stated below, defendant Rodriguez' motion is denied.

I

On July 21, 1980, plaintiffs and other migrant and seasonal farmworkers walked off the fields of their employer, Bob Filice Farms, in support of a strike by garlic workers against the garlic growers of southern Santa Clara and San Benito Counties. In response to this strike by plaintiffs, Bob Filice Farms contracted with the defendants to recruit and provide workers to fill plaintiffs' positions. During the term of the strike these farm labor contractors recruited, hired, and transported additional migrant and seasonal agricultural workers to the fields of Bob Filice Farms. Section 2045(b)(7) of the Act requires that the farm labor contractor disclose the existence of a strike to each worker recruited. Section 40.51(g) of the regulations promulgated pursuant to the Act requires that such disclosure be in writing. 3 Sections 2045(c) and 40.51(h) require that the terms and conditions of employment be posted in a conspicuous place. 4 The defendants failed to comply with these requirements. Plaintiffs therefore allege that the workers were recruited in violation of the Act and, as a result, plaintiffs were economically injured by these violations. Specifically, they allege that the defendants' failure to inform the recruited workers of the existence of the strike caused plaintiffs to be displaced from their jobs and to lose their ability to bargain effectively as unionized employees.

II

The requirements for standing in federal courts which are applicable to this case were clearly set forth by the Supreme Court in Gladstone, Realtors v. Village of Bellwood, 441 U.S. 91, 99, 99 S.Ct. 1601, 1607, 60 L.Ed.2d 66 (1978).

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In Gladstone the Court noted that the inquiry into whether a litigant is entitled to have the court decide the merits of a case involves two limitations: constitutional and prudential.

First, under the constitutional limitations, a federal court's jurisdiction can be invoked only where the plaintiff has made out a case or controversy between himself and the defendant within the meaning of Article III of the Constitution. Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 498, 95 S.Ct. 2197, 2204, 45 L.Ed.2d 343 (1975). In order to fit within the meaning of Article III the plaintiff must demonstrate that he has suffered a genuine injury as a result of defendant's illegal conduct which is direct and concrete, and not abstract, remote, or hypothetical. O'Shea v. Littleton, 414 U.S. 488, 493, 94 S.Ct. 669, 674, 38 L.Ed.2d 674 (1974). The injury must be fairly traceable to the challenged action of the defendant. Simon v. Eastern Kentucky Welfare Rights Organization, 426 U.S. 26, 41, 96 S.Ct. 1917, 1925, 48 L.Ed.2d 450 (1976).

Second, even if a case falls within constitutional boundaries, the plaintiff must additionally show under prudential principles that the statutory provision on which the claim rests was intended by Congress to grant persons in the plaintiff's position a right to judicial relief. Warth, 422 U.S. at 500, 95 S.Ct. at 2205. The prudential requirements are designed to ensure that the litigants bringing suit in federal court are those best suited to present the particular claims they are suing upon. Gladstone, 441 U.S. at 100, 99 S.Ct. at 1608.

However, Congress may, through legislation, expand standing "to the full extent permitted by Article III." Gladstone, 441 U.S. at 100, 99 S.Ct. at 1608; Warth, 442 U.S. at 501, 95 S.Ct. at 2206. Such legislation grants standing to those litigants who would normally be prevented from bringing suit by the prudential limitations. The constitutional limitations, however, still remain. As long as plaintiff can show that he suffered an actual injury as a result of the defendant's conduct and that the injury is likely to be redressed by a decision rendered in his favor, he is allowed to bring suit in federal court.

A review of analogous case law and an examination of the legislative history of the Act leads this Court to the conclusion that Congress, by enacting s 2050a(a), displayed an intention to define standing as broadly as is permitted by Article III of the Constitution. Therefore, in order to meet standing requirements, plaintiffs need only show that they have suffered actual injury as a result of the illegal conduct of the defendants. The issue to be decided by this Court is not who possesses the legal rights protected by s 2045(b) and (c), but whether plaintiffs suffered an actual injury as a result of conduct that violated someone's rights under these sections. Gladstone, 441 U.S. at 103 n.9, 99 S.Ct. at 1610 n.9.

A

The extent of standing granted by Congress through the enactment of s 2050a(a) has not heretofore been decided. 5 This Court is, therefore, compelled to look to other decisions in which similar statutory language has been analyzed in similar contexts.

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In Trafficante v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., 409 U.S. 205, 93 S.Ct. 364, 34 L.Ed.2d 415 (1972), the Supreme Court analyzed language similar to s 2050a(a) under s 810 of the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Section 810 allowed a "person aggrieved" by discriminatory housing practices to sue in district court. Two tenants, one black and one white, of an apartment complex brought suit against their landlord to end discriminatory rental policies aimed at non-whites. The district court and the Ninth Circuit construed s 810 as permitting complaints only by persons who are objects of discriminatory housing practices and held that complaining tenants were not within the class of persons entitled to sue under that section. In reversing these courts, the Supreme Court followed the Third Circuit's opinion in Hackett v. McGuire, Inc., 445 F.2d 442 (3d Cir. 1971), which had held that a statutory grant of standing to "a person claiming to be aggrieved" displayed a congressional intention to define standing as broadly as permitted by Article III. In Trafficante, the Court, therefore, ruled that s 810's grant of standing to "any person who claims to be injured by a discriminatory housing practice" revealed a similar intention. The plaintiffs were required to show only that they were personally injured by the defendant's alleged discrimination. The Court found that the tenants were injured, and thus aggrieved, because they had lost important benefits from interracial associations.

The Trafficante decision has been followed by a number of courts which have examined the extent of standing granted by Congress through the use of the language "person aggrieved" under both the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. See, e.g., E.E.O.C. v. Mississippi College, 626 F.2d 477 (5th Cir. 1980); E.E.O.C. v. Bailey Co., 563 F.2d 439 (6th Cir. 1977), cert. denied, 435 U.S. 915, 98 S.Ct. 1468, 55 L.Ed.2d 506 (1978); Waters v. Heublein, Inc., 547 F.2d 466 (9th Cir. 1976), cert. denied, 433 U.S. 915, 97 S.Ct. 2988, 53 L.Ed.2d 1100 (1977). In Waters, the Ninth Circuit ruled that a white employee had standing to sue under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to redress the alleged discrimination of her employer against Black and Hispanic Americans. The court found the employee "aggrieved" because the discrimination harmed possible advantageous personal, professional or business contacts. See also Gladstone; Harriss v. Pan American World Airways, Inc., 74 F.R.D. 24, 50 n.24 (N.D.Cal.1977).

These decisions demonstrate a broad judicial construction of the language used by Congress to grant standing. Such a construction is in keeping with the federal practice of...

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