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Seiffert v. Qwest Corp.

United States District Court, D. Montana, Great Falls Division

February 22, 2019

JORDAN SEIFFERT, ON BEHALF OF HIMSELF AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, Plaintiffs,
v.
QWEST CORPORATION D/B/A/ CENTURYLINK QC AND CENTURYLINK COMMUNICATIONS, LLC, Defendants.

          ORDER

          BRIAN MORRIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Jordan Seiffert, on behalf of himself, and all others similarly situated, brought a collective action against Defendant Quest Corporation d/b/a/ CenturyLink QC and Defendant CenturyLink Communications, LLC (collectively “CenturyLink” or “Defendants”). Defendants moved to dismiss the out-of-state Plaintiffs and putative Plaintiffs, or, in the alternative, transfer the case to the Western District of Louisiana where CenturyLink is headquartered. (Doc. 31.)

         Defendants argued that the United States Supreme Court's ruling in Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Ct. of Cal., 137 S.Ct. 1773 (2017), applies to FLSA collective actions and deprives the Court of specific personal jurisdiction. The Court determined that Bristol-Myers did not apply to FLSA collective actions and denied Defendants' motion on December 14, 2018. (Doc. 65.)

         Defendants argue that the issue of whether Bristol-Myers deprives a district court of specific personal jurisdiction over the claims of out-of-state opt-in plaintiffs in a FLSA collective action presents a controlling question. (Doc. 71 at 2.) Defendants argue, therefore, that the Court's December 14, 2018, Order denying Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, Transfer Venue (Doc. 65) should be certified for interlocutory appeal.

         LEGAL STANDARDS

         Appeal of a district court order generally may only occur after a final order ends the litigation. Couch v. Telescope Inc., 611 F.3d 629, 632 (9th Cir. 2010). A court may certify a non-final order, however, if (1) the order involves a controlling question of law, (2) as to which there is substantial ground for difference of opinion, and (3) an immediate appeal may “materially advance the ultimate termination of the litigation.” 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b); Couch, 611 F.3d at 633. Interlocutory appeal should be granted sparingly and only in exceptional circumstances. Google Inc. v. Rockstar Consortium U.S. LP, 2014 WL 4145506 at *1 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 20, 2014) (citing James v. Price Stern Sloan, Inc., 283 F.3d 1064, 1068 n.6 (9th Cir. 2002)). The party seeking interlocutory review bears the burden of showing that interlocutory review is warranted. Couch, 611 F.3d at 633. The district court possesses discretion to determine whether interlocutory review is warranted. 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b); see also Google Inc., 2014 WL 4145506, at *1 (citing Swint v. Chambers Cnty. Comm'n, 514 U.S. 35, 47 (1995)).

         DISCUSSION

         Defendants argue that all three requirements for interlocutory appeal are met with regard to the Court's December 14, 2018, Order denying Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, Transfer Venue. (Doc. 65.) Defendants assert that the question of whether Bristol-Myers applies to collective actions presents ground for difference of opinion. (Doc. 71 at 5.) Defendants argue further that resolution of this issue could change materially the scope of this case. Id.

         Bristol-Myers involved group of plaintiffs that brought a mass tort action against Bristol-Myers Squibb in California state court in which they alleged state law claims. Id. at 1779. The plaintiffs included 86 people who resided in California, and 592 people who resided in 33 other states. Id. The United States Supreme Court determined that the California state court lacked personal jurisdiction over the state claims brought by the out-of-state plaintiffs as no connection existed between the forum in California and the claims. Id. at 1782-83.

         Plaintiffs premised the California state-based tort claims upon alleged injuries from a drug manufactured by Bristol-Meyers Squibb. Id. at 1281. The out- of-state plaintiffs were not prescribed the drug in California, did not purchase the drug in California, did not ingest the drug in California, and did not suffer injuries in California. Id. The mere fact that out-of-state plaintiffs suffered the same injuries as the California resident plaintiffs did not extend the state court's exercise of specific personal jurisdiction to the out-of-state plaintiffs' claims. Id. The complaint lacked a connection between the forum and the specific claims at issue. Id. The Supreme Court noted, however, that its decision in Bristol-Meyers did not usurp “settled principles” of personal jurisdiction. Id. at 1283. The Supreme Court “[left] open the question whether the Fifth Amendment imposes the same restrictions on the exercise of personal jurisdiction by a federal court.” Id. at 1784.

         I. Does the Court's December 14, 2018, Order turn on a Controlling Question of Law?

         Defendants first argue that if Bristol-Myers applied to FLSA collective actions, Plaintiffs' claims would have been dismissed for lack of specific jurisdiction. (Doc. 71.) Defendants assert that the Court's December 14, 2018, Order turns on a determination of whether it possessed specific personal jurisdiction over the claims of out-of-state opt-in Plaintiffs. Id.

         In its December 14, 2018, Order, the Court analyzed whether personal jurisdiction existed over CenturyLink with regard to the claims of the non-Montana Opt-in Plaintiffs. The Court first determined that Plaintiff Seiffert met all of the elements required for exercise of specific personal jurisdiction over CenturyLink.

         The Court next analyzed whether Bristol-Myers would divest the Court of specific personal jurisdiction over the opt-in Plaintiffs. The Court determined that Bristol-Myers did not apply to FLSA collective actions. Defendants argue that a contrary result would be compelled if Bristol-Myers applied to FLSA collective actions and the out-of-state opt-in Plaintiffs' claims would be dismissed for lack of specific jurisdiction. (Doc. 71 at 8.) Defendants correctly argue that an opposite conclusion as to Bristol-Myers would compel a different analysis as to the ...


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