Golden Gate Restaurant v. City of San Francisco

Decision Date26 December 2007
Docket NumberNo. C 06-06997 JSW.,C 06-06997 JSW.
Citation535 F.Supp.2d 968
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of California

Richard Charles Rybicki, Dickenson, Peatman & Fogarty, Napa, CA, Brandon R. Blevans, Gregory J. Walsh, Patrick Bernard Sutton, Dickenson Peatman & Fogarty PC, Santa Rosa, CA, Marlo S. Cohen, Napa, CA, for Plaintiff.

Vince Chhabria, Aleeta Marie Vanrunkle, San Francisco City Attorney's Office, San Francisco, CA, Jeffrey Greg Lewis, Lewis Feinberg Lee Renaker & Jackson, P.C., Oakland, CA, Wayne Kessler Snodgrass, Office of the City Attorney, San Francisco, CA, Scott Alan Kronland, Stacey M. Leyton, Altshuler Berzon LLP, San Francisco, CA, for Defendants.


JEFFREY S. WHITE, District Judge.

Now before the Court are the cross motions for summary judgment filed by Plaintiff Golden Gate Restaurant Association ("Plaintiff') and the City and County of San Francisco ("the City"). Intervenors San Francisco Central Labor Council, Service Employees International Union Local 1021, SUIU United Healthcare Workers-West and Unite-Here!, Local 2 (collectively "the Intervenors") have also moved for summary judgment on behalf of the City and have joined in the City's opposition to Plaintiff's motion. Having considered the parties' pleadings, the relevant legal authority, and having had the benefit of oral argument, the Court hereby GRANTS Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and DENIES the City's and the Intervenors' motion for summary judgment.


In 2006, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed, and the Mayor signed into law, the San Francisco Health Care Security Ordinance (the "Ordinance"). The Ordinance contains two key components related to the regulation of health care in San Francisco. The first is an employer health spending requirement and the second, is a government health care program, funded in part by those employer contributions. The employer spending requirement, which does not become operative until January 1, 2008, is the subject of the pending suit and mandates that medium and, large businesses make minimum health care expenditures on behalf of covered employees. Specifically, in 2008, a private employer with between 20 and 99 employees and a nonprofit with 50 or more employees would, for any employee who has been employed for 90 days and works more than 10 hours per week, make health care expenditures of $1.17 per hour on behalf of that employee. Ord. § 14.1(b)(8); Reg. No. 52(A)(2). A private employer with 100 or more employees would make health care expenditures of $1.76 per hour on behalf of each covered employee. Ord. § 14(b)(8); Reg. No. 5.2(A)(1).

The Ordinance sets out a number of non-exclusive qualifying health care expenditures, such as contributions to health savings accounts, direct reimbursement to employees for some of the expenses incurred in the purchase of health care services, payments to third parties for the purpose of provided health care services, costs incurred in the direct delivery of health care services, or payments by the employer to the City "to be used on behalf of covered employees." Ord. § 14.1(b)(7).

The Ordinance also establishes a government health care program operated by the Department of Public Health. Using the expenditures paid by private employers, individuals, and contributions from the City, the Ordinance creates a City fund to operate a Health Access Program ("HAP"). Ord. § 142(d). The HAP would deliver health care to its participants from a network consisting of San Francisco General Hospital, Department of Health clinics, and participating nonprofit and private providers. Ord. § 14.2(a). The HAP, funded in part by the City's general fund and in part by the employer's contributions, would be available to uninsured San Francisco residents, regardless of their employment status. Enrollees would pay quarterly participation fees on a sliding scale basis. Nonresidents who work in the City would not qualify for HAP participation, but the program would set up a medical reimbursement account and, those nonresident employees could draw from the account to obtain reimbursement for medical expenses, including the payment of health insurance premiums. Ord. §§ 14.1(b)(7), 14.2(g).

Employers covered by the Ordinance would be required to maintain "accurate records of health care expenditures" and "proof of such expenditures," allow "reasonable access" by City officials to such records, and annually report "such other information" that the City requires. Ord. § 14.3(b). The Ordinance also requires that all employers avoid reducing their workforce below any of the Ordinance thresholds or prove that the reduction was not done to avoid the thresholds. Ord. § 14.4(c). Violation of any of these requirements could result in significant penalties and presumptions against employers. Ord. § 14.3(b). The City would be able to collect penalties through administrative enforcement or via a civil action for penalties, costs and attorneys' fees. Ord. § 14.4(e)(3).

Golden Gate Restaurant Association, a group established to promote, extend and protect the general interests of the restaurant industry, brought suit on November 8, 2006, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief on the theory that the Ordinance's spending requirement is preempted by ERISA. The parties cross-moved for summary judgment on that legal issue.

The Court shall address additional facts as necessary to its analysis in the remainder of this Order.

A. Legal Standard.

A court may grant summary judgment as to all or a part of a party's claims. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Summary judgment is proper when the "pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). An issue is "genuine" only if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable fact finder to find for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). A fact is "material" if the fact may affect the outcome of the case. Id. at 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505. "In considering a motion for summary judgment, the court may not weigh the evidence or make credibility determinations, and is required to draw all inferences in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Freeman v. Arpaio, 125 F.3d 732, 735 (9th Cir.1997).

A principal purpose of the summary judgment procedure is to identify and dispose of factually unsupported claims. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of identifying those portions of the pleadings, discovery, and affidavits which demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Id. at 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548. Where the moving party will have the burden of proof on an issue at trial, it must affirmatively demonstrate that no reasonable trier of fact could find other than for the moving party. Id. Once the moving party meets this initial burden, the non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings and by its own evidence "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). The non-moving party must "identify with reasonable particularity the evidence that precludes summary judgment." Keenan v. Allan, 91 F.3d 1275, 1279 (9th Cir.1996) (quoting Richards v. Combined Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 247, 251 (7th Cir.1995)) (stating that it is not a district court's task to "scour the record in search of a genuine issue of triable fact"). If the non-moving party fails to make this showing, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548.

Whether ERISA acts to preempt a state or local law is a question of law. Farr v. U.S. West Communications, Inc., 151 F.3d 908, 913 (9th Cir.1998). Under the provisions of ERISA, "State law" includes "all laws, decisions, regulations, or other State action having the effect of law," while "State" includes "any political subdivisions thereof, or any agency or instrumentality of either, which purpose to regulate, directly or indirectly, the terms and conditions of employee benefit plans covered by [ERISA]." 29 U.S.C. §§ 1144(c)(1), (c)(2). For purposes of the analysis, "the constitutionality of local ordinances is analyzed in the same way as that of statewide laws." Hillsborough County v. Automated Medical Laboratories, Inc., 471 U.S. 707, 713, 105 S.Ct. 2371, 85 L.Ed.2d 714 (1985).

B. ERISA Preemption.

Congress enacted the Employee Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq., as a comprehensive legislative scheme "to promote the interests of employees and their beneficiaries in employee benefit plans." Shaw v. Delta Air Lines, Inc., 463 U.S. 85, 90, 103 S.Ct. 2890, 77 L.Ed.2d 490 (1983). By enacting suck a broad scheme, Congress also sought to protect employers by "eliminating the threat of conflicting or inconsistent State and local regulation of employee benefit plans." Id. at 99, 103 S.Ct. 2890. To further this goal of nationwide uniformity and consistency, Congress included a preemption clause, section 514(a), which "conspicuous for its breadth, it establishes as an area of exclusive federal concern the subject of every state law that `relate[s] to' an employee benefit plan governed by ERISA." FMC Corp. v. Holliday, 498 U.S. 52, 58, 111 S.Ct. 403, 112 L.Ed.2d 356 (1990). The clause is considered "one of the broadest preemption clauses ever enacted by Congress." PM Group Life Insurance Co. v. Western Growers Assurance Trust, 953 F.2d 543, 545 (9th Cir. 1992).

Section 514(a) provides that ERISA "supercede[s] any and all State...

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2 cases
  • Golden Gate Restaurant v. San Francisco
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • September 30, 2008
    ...for summary judgment and enjoined the implementation of the employer spending requirements. Golden Gate Rest. Ass'n v. City & County of San Francisco, 535 F.Supp.2d 968, 970 (N.D.Cal.2007). On December 27, 2007, Defendant City and County of San Francisco ("the City") and Defendant-Interveno......
  • Golden Gate Rest. v. City and Cny of San Francisco
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • March 9, 2009
    ...S. White entered judgment for GGRA, finding that ERISA Section 514(a) preempts the Ordinance. Golden Gate Rest. Ass'n v. City & County of San Fran., 535 F.Supp.2d 968 (N.D.Cal.2007). Section 514(a) states that ERISA "shall supersede any and all State laws insofar as they may now or hereafte......
2 books & journal articles
  • Four problems facing meaningful state health care reform and coverage in the United States.
    • United States
    • Albany Law Review Vol. 72 No. 4, December 2009
    • December 22, 2009
    ...(98) Id. at 418. (99) See MacLean, supra note 24. (100) See id. (101) See Golden Gate Rest. Ass'n v. City and County of San Francisco, 535 F. Supp. 2d 968, 970 (N.D. Cal. 2007), rev'd, 546 F.3d 639 (9th Cir. 2008); S.F., CAL., MUN. CODE ADMIN. CODE ch. 14, [section] 14.8 (2007), available a......
  • Universal health care in Massachusetts: setting the standard for national reform.
    • United States
    • Fordham Urban Law Journal Vol. 35 No. 3, April 2008
    • April 1, 2008
    ...on weekly hours and overall length of employment. See id. (149.) See Golden Gate Restaurant Ass'n v. City and County of San Francisco, 535 F. Supp. 2d 968 (N.D. Cal. (150.) See Golden Gate Restaurant Ass'n v. City and County of San Francisco, 512 F.3d 1112 (9th Cir. 2008). (151.) See id. (1......

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