Northern District Grants Pre-certification Class Discovery

by charlesjung

The Azure Blue Indoor Pool at Hearst Castle
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The Northern District granted a putative class representative’s motion to compel timecard and payroll records for all employees in Valenzuela v. MC2 Pool & Spa, et al., No. C09-01698 RS (HRL), 2010 WL 3489596 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 3, 2010).

Plaintiff Valenzuela brought a putative class action for alleged wage and hour violations. Id. *1. Plaintiff sought to compel timecard records (Request for Production No. 1) and payroll records (Request for Production No. 2) for all employees for the statutory period.  Id. Defendants produced some documents, including four-years worth of records for the named plaintiff. Id. But Defendants argued that discovery should be limited to the one-year period preceding the filing of the action because (a) plaintiff’s PAGA claim is limited to the recovery of penalties, not wages, on behalf of other employees; (b) the applicable statute of limitations under PAGA is one year; and (c) although plaintiff has filed this action on behalf of a putative class, no class has been certified, and no motion for certification has been filed.  Id.

The court rejecting these arguments and noted that “plaintiffs are not absolutely precluded from proceeding with discovery pertaining to class issues before class certification has been sought or granted.”  Id. (citing Del Campo v. Kennedy, 236 F.R.D. 454, 459 (N.D. Cal. 2006) (stating that pre-certification discovery is within the discretion of the court) andOppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351 n. 13 (1978) (“[D]iscovery often has been used to illuminate issues upon which a district court must pass in deciding whether a suit should proceed as a class action under Rule 23, such as numerosity, common questions, and adequacy of representation.”)).

The court granted the motion to compel and ordered the production of (1) all timecard records for all employees for the period April 2005 to the present, including any electronically stored information; and (2) all payroll records for all employees for the same period.

Id. **1-2.


United States Magistrate Judge Howard R. Lloyd.