934 F.3d 918 (9th Cir. 2019), 17-16245, Senne v. Kansas City Royals Baseball Corp.

Docket Nº:17-16245, 17-16267, 17-16276
Citation:934 F.3d 918
Opinion Judge:PAEZ, Circuit Judge:
Party Name:Aaron SENNE; Michael Liberto; Oliver Odle; Brad McAtee; Craig Bennigson; Matt Lawson; Kyle Woodruff; Ryan Kiel; Kyle Nicholson; Brad Stone; Matt Daly; Aaron Meade; Justin Murray; Jake Kahaulelio; Ryan Khoury; Dustin Pease; Jeff Nadeau; Jon Gaston; Brandon Henderson; Tim Pahuta; Lee Smith; Joseph Newby; Ryan Hutson; Matt Frevert; Roberto Ortiz; ...
Attorney:Robert L. King (argued) and Garrett R. Broshuis, Korein Tillery LLC, St. Louis, Missouri; Bruce L. Simon and Benjamin E. Shiftan, Pearson Simon & Warshaw LLP, San Francisco, California; Daniel L. Warshaw and Bobby Pouya, Pearson Simon & Warshaw LLP, Sherman Oaks, California; for Plaintiffs-Appell...
Judge Panel:Before: Michael R. Murphy, Richard A. Paez, and Sandra S. Ikuta, Circuit Judges. Dissent by Judge Ikuta IKUTA, Circuit Judge, dissenting:
Case Date:August 16, 2019
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
 
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934 F.3d 918 (9th Cir. 2019)

Aaron SENNE; Michael Liberto; Oliver Odle; Brad McAtee; Craig Bennigson; Matt Lawson; Kyle Woodruff; Ryan Kiel; Kyle Nicholson; Brad Stone; Matt Daly; Aaron Meade; Justin Murray; Jake Kahaulelio; Ryan Khoury; Dustin Pease; Jeff Nadeau; Jon Gaston; Brandon Henderson; Tim Pahuta; Lee Smith; Joseph Newby; Ryan Hutson; Matt Frevert; Roberto Ortiz; Witer Jimenez; Kris Watts; Mitch Hilligoss; Daniel Britt; Yadel Marti; Helder Velaquez; Jorge Jimenez; Jorge Minyety; Edwin Maysonet; Jose Diaz; Nick Giarraputo; Lauren Gagnier; Leonard Davis; Gaspar Santiago; Grant Duff; Omar Aguilar; Mark Wagner; David Quinowski; Brandon Pinckney, Individually and on Behalf of All Those Similarly Situated; Jake Opitz; Brett Newsome, Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS BASEBALL CORP.; Marlins Teamco LLC; San Francisco Baseball Associates, LLC; Office of the Commissioner of Baseball, dba Major League Baseball, an unincorporated association; Allan Huber Selig, "Bud"; Angels Baseball LP; St. Louis Cardinals, LLC; Colorado Rockies Baseball Club, Ltd.; Cincinnati Reds, LLC; Houston Baseball Partners LLC; Athletics Investment Group, LLC; Rogers Blue Jays Baseball Partnership; Padres L.P.; San Diego Padres Baseball Club, L.P.; Minnesota Twins, LLC; Detroit Tigers, Inc.; Los Angeles Dodgers LLC; Sterling Mets L.P.; AZPB L.P.; New York Yankees P’Ship; Rangers Baseball Express, LLC; Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club, Inc.; Chicago Cubs Baseball Club, LLC; Pittsburgh Associates, LP; Baseball Club of Seattle, LLP; Los Angeles Dodgers Holding Company LLC; Rangers Baseball, LLC, Defendants-Appellees.

Nos. 17-16245, 17-16267, 17-16276

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

August 16, 2019

Argued and Submitted June 13, 2018 San Francisco, California

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Robert L. King (argued) and Garrett R. Broshuis, Korein Tillery LLC, St. Louis, Missouri; Bruce L. Simon and Benjamin E. Shiftan, Pearson Simon & Warshaw LLP, San Francisco, California; Daniel L. Warshaw and Bobby Pouya, Pearson Simon & Warshaw LLP, Sherman Oaks, California; for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

Elise M. Bloom (argued), Adam M. Lupion, and Mark D. Harris, Proskauer Rose LLP, New York, New York; John E. Roberts, Proskauer Rose LLP, Boston, Massachusetts; for Defendants-Apellees.

David C. Frederick and Jeffrey A. Love, Kellogg Hansen Todd Figel & Frederick PLLC, Washington, D.C., for Amici Curiae Professors Peter Hay and Patrick J. Borchers.

Allan Steyer and Donald Scott MacRae, Steyer Lowenthal Boodrookas Alvarez & Smith LLP, San Francisco, California, for Amici Curiae Professional Hockey Players Association; Association of Minor League Umpires; Office and Professional Employee’s International Union; and United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied and Industrial Service Workers International Union.

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Joseph C. Spero, Magistrate Judge, Presiding, D.C. No. 3:14-cv-00608-JCS

Before: Michael R. Murphy,[*] Richard A. Paez, and Sandra S. Ikuta, Circuit Judges.

Dissent by Judge Ikuta

SUMMARY[**]

Labor Law / Class and Collective Certification

The panel affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court's orders certifying a class and a collective action for wage-and-hour claims brought by minor league baseball players under the Fair Labor Standards Act and state law.

The district court certified a California class under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3) but denied certification for Arizona and Florida classes and for a Rule 23(b)(2) class. The district court also certified an FLSA collective.

The panel held that, as to the state law claims, California choice-of-law rules applied. The panel held that under Sullivan v. Oracle Corp., 254 P.3d 237 (Cal. 2011), California law applied to the Rule 23(b)(3) California class. The panel reversed the district court's determination that choice-of-law considerations defeated the predominance and adequacy requirements for the proposed Arizona and Florida Rule 23(b)(3) classes. Applying California's three-step governmental interest analysis for choice-of-law questions, the panel concluded that Arizona law should apply to the work performed in Arizona, and Florida law to the work performed in Florida.

The panel reversed the district court's refusal to certify a Rule 23(b)(2) class for unpaid work at defendants' training facilities in Arizona and Florida on the basis that choice-of-law issues undermined "cohesiveness" and therefore made injunctive and declaratory relief inappropriate. The panel concluded that the district court's errors in its choice-of-law analysis relating to the proposed Arizona and Florida Rule 23(b)(3) classes applied equally to its refusal to certify the Rule 23(b)(2) class. The panel further held that the district court erred in imposing a "cohesiveness" requirement for the proposed Rule 23(b)(2) class. The panel remanded for the district court to consider anew whether to certify the Rule 23(b)(2) class.

The panel held that plaintiffs could meet the predominance requirement for the proposed California, Florida, and Arizona Rule 23(b)(3) classes through a combination of representative evidence and application of the "continuous workday" rule. The panel applied the Mt. Clemens burden-shifting framework and the holding of Tyson Foods v. Bouaphakeo, 136 S.Ct. 1036 (2016), that representative evidence may be used at the class certification stage and may be used to establish liability in addition to damages. The panel explained that the continuous workday rule presumes that once the beginning of the workday is triggered, an employee performs compensable work throughout the rest of the day until the employee completes their last principal activity. Any activity that is "integral and indispensable" to principal activities triggers the beginning of the workday. As to the Arizona and Florida classes, covering alleged minimum wage violations in the lack of any pay for time spent participating in spring training, extended spring training, and instructional leagues, the panel affirmed the determination that the predominance requirement was met. As to the California class, covering overtime and minimum wage claims relating to work performed during the championship season, the panel held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that defendants' uniform pay policy, the team schedules, and representative evidence, including an expert survey known as the "Main Survey," established predominance. The panel held that the district court was not required to "rigorously analyze" the Main Survey, rather than evaluating its admissibility under Daubert and its appropriateness for meeting class certification requirements under Tyson.

Affirming the district court's certification of the FLSA collective action, the panel applied the standard set forth in Campbell v. City of L.A., 903 F.3d 1090 (9th Cir. 2018), which postdated the district court's ruling, and held that the district court's use of the ad hoc approach was harmless error. The panel concluded that collective certification was proper because plaintiffs shared similar issues of law or fact material to the disposition of their FLSA claims and thus were similarly situated.

The panel affirmed the district court's certification of the California Rule 23(b)(3) class and the FLSA collective action, reversed the district court's refusal to certify Arizona and Florida classes and a Rule 23(b)(2) class, and remanded for further proceedings.

Dissenting, Judge Ikuta wrote that the district court correctly concluded that consideration of plaintiffs' claims on a classwide basis would be overwhelmed by individualized choice-of-law inquiries. She wrote that the majority's rule, applying the law of the jurisdiction where the work took place, was contrary to the court's framework for analyzing the intersection of class action and choice-of-law issues, overlooked the complexity of California's choice-of-law rules, and created significant practical and logistical problems.

OPINION

PAEZ, Circuit Judge:

It is often said that baseball is America’s pastime. In this case, current and former minor league baseball players allege that

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the American tradition of baseball collides with a tradition far less benign: the exploitation of workers. We are tasked with deciding whether these minor league players may properly bring their wage-and-hour claims on a collective and classwide basis.

BACKGROUND

I.

Most major professional sports in America have their own "farm system" for developing talent: for the National Basketball Association, it’s the G-League; for the National Hockey League, it’s the American Hockey League; and for Major League Baseball (MLB), it’s Minor League Baseball. MLB and its thirty franchise teams rely heavily on this extensive minor league system, which has nearly 200 affiliates across the country and employs approximately 6,000 minor league players. Nearly all MLB players begin their careers in the minor leagues. Each minor league club is associated with one of the thirty franchise MLB teams.

The minor league system is governed by the Major League Rules (MLRs), which dictate the terms of employment and compensation for both minor and major league players. Under the MLRs, all minor league players are required to sign a seven-year Uniform Player Contract (UPC). Ostensibly, players are required to sign the UPC for "morale" and "to produce the similarity of conditions necessary for keen competition."

The UPC "obligates Player[s] to perform professional services on a...

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