Co-authored by Dana Howells and Brandon L. Spurlock

Like all federal courts, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California has promulgated Local Rules  that have the force of law to the extent they do not contravene the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Local Rules need to be taken seriously, including Local Rule 23-3’s requirement that a motion for class certification be filed within 90 days from service of the pleading that commences a class action. In an FLSA opt-in collective action, Plaintiffs filed their motion for certification on the last day allowed by Local Rule 23-3 , July 19, 2010. The Court rejected the filing for technical defects (due to the wrong hearing date, trial date and pre-trial conference date). Plaintiffs attempted to re-file, but technical defects remained, so the Court rejected the second attempt. Plaintiffs then filed an ex parte application on both procedural and substantive grounds seeking relief from the deadlines imposed by Local Rule 23-3. Defendant argued that Plaintiffs had not shown the elements of excusable neglect and that delay was prejudicial because of the extremely tight timeframes for discovery and opposition. The Court denied the ex parte application. Then Plaintiffs filed a “Motion for Extension of Time to Re-submit Motion for Class Certification Pursuant to Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 6(b)(1)(B), or in the Alternative, Withdrawal of Seventeen Opt-in Consents filed with the Court.” The Court considered this second try a motion for reconsideration. Motions for reconsideration are limited (by Local Rules) to unusual situations where there is a material difference in fact or law from what was originally presented to the Court (which could not be discovered by reasonable diligence) or changes in governing law, emergence of new facts, or clear error. Plaintiffs argued that because they pursued claims as an FLSA opt-in action under 29 U.S.C. 216(b), the requirements of Rule 23, Fed. R. Civ. Proc. and Local Rule 23-3 did not apply. The District Court held that while “opt-on” class actions are different, they still need to be certified, and the only way to obtain certification is by timely motion. Local Rule 23-3 applies to all pleadings filed to commence a class action. The sole exception is for actions brought under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act.