Northern District Denies Class Certification, After Sustaining Objections to a Declaration Designed to Evade a Local Rule on Page Limits

by charlesjung

Pile of papers
Image by jepoirrier via Flickr

The United States District Court for the Northern District of California denied a motion for class certification for evading the page limit on briefing by relying on 11 pages of argument crammed into a supporting declaration.  Juarez v. Jani-King Of California, Inc., No. 09-3495 SC, 2010 WL 3766649 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 24, 2010).  Plaintiffs brought a putative class action arising out of the sale of franchises by Defendants Jani-King of California, Inc., Jani-King, Inc., and Jani-King International, Inc.  Id. *1.  Plaintiffs petitioned the Court for leave to file a brief exceeding Northern District of California’s Civil Local Rule 7-4(b)’s twenty-five-page limit, but the court denied the request. Id.

Plaintiffs filed their Motion to Certify, as well as sixty exhibits totaling more than four thousand pages in support of the Motion.  Id. Defendants filed objections to an eleven-page section of a declaration that Plaintiffs filed in support of their Motion.  Id.

The Statement of Facts in Plaintiffs’ motion cited almost exclusively to seventy-six paragraphs in this declaration.  Id. And in turn, these paragraphs cited to the evidence supporting the Motion.  The court gave the following example from the motion and declaration:

JK conceals the fact that the price it negotiates for cleaning accounts, after all fees are deducted, leaves franchisees without a profit and with little to no return on their investment. (S ¶ 37.)

Mot. at 4. Paragraph 37 of the Huston Declaration provides:

JK conceals the fact that the price it negotiates for cleaning accounts, after all fees are deducted, leaves franchisees without a profit and with little to no return on their investment. (Evid. Tab E ¶¶ 8-11; Evid. Tab F ¶ 4; Evid. Tab G ¶ 5; Evid.  Tab H ¶ 5; Evid. Tab I ¶ 6; Evid. Tab J ¶ 5; Evid. Tab K ¶ 5; Evid. Tab L ¶ 6; Evid. Tab N ¶ 11; Evid. Tab O ¶¶ 29-34, 45-50, 54-58; Ex. 38; Ex. 56, 120:23-121:15; Ex. 57, 45:21-47:9; Ex. 58, 121:3-16; Ex. 60, 94:21- 95:5; Ex. 61, 139:3-12, 139:17-140:1.)

Id.

Defendants argued that through this practice, Plaintiffs evaded Civil Local Rule 7-4(b)’s page limits on briefs.  Id. Defendants also argued that this practice violated Civil Local Rule 7-5(b), because the declaration was argumentative and conclusory, and that the practice violated Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e), because the declarant lacked personal knowledge of these statements. Id.

The Court agreed with Defendants, and found that the declaration violated the Northern District’s Local Rules:  “Plaintiffs’ practice is an impermissible end-run around the page limits on briefs, and directly in opposition to this Court’s July 12, 2010 order denying Plaintiffs’ motion for leave to file an extended brief.”  Id. *2.

The court thus sustained defendant’s objections to the offending paragraphs of the declaration.  Id. “With these paragraphs stricken, Plaintiffs’ Complaint is left without factual support, and thus the Court DENIES Plaintiffs’ Motion to Certify.”  Id.

Judge

District Judge Samuel Conti.

By CHARLES JUNG

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