United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
BARBARO ROSAS and GUADALUPE TAPIA, as individuals and on behalf of all other similarly situated persons, Plaintiffs,
SARBANAND FARMS LLC, et al., Defendants.
C. COUGHENOUR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Defendant CSI Visa
Processing S.C.'s (“CSI”) motion to dismiss
for lack of personal jurisdiction (Dkt. No. 86). Having
thoroughly considered the parties' briefing and the
relevant record, the Court finds oral argument unnecessary
and hereby DENIES the motion for the reasons explained
bring this class action arising out of the Defendants'
recruitment, employment, and treatment of foreign H-2A farm
workers. (Dkt. No. 12 at 1.) Plaintiffs allege that Defendant
CSI violated the Washington Farm Labor Contractors Act
(“FLCA”) by failing to obtain and carry a current
farm labor contractor's license at all times and exhibit
it to Plaintiffs; failing to obtain a bond and disclose the
existence and amount of that bond to Plaintiffs; failing to
furnish Plaintiffs with a written statement on the form
prescribed by the Washington State Department of Labor and
Industries describing the compensation to be paid and terms
and conditions of employment; and by making or causing to be
made false, fraudulent, or misleading representations to
Plaintiffs concerning the terms and conditions of employment.
(Id. at 31-32.)
CSI is a Mexican visa processing company with its principal
place of business in Durango, Mexico. (Dkt. No. 86 at 8.) It
“processes visa applications at the request of
employers across the United States, ” and describes
itself as “the largest H2 [visa] processing company in
Mexico, assisting hundreds of employers across the United
States.” (Id. at 8; Dkt. No. 96-2 at 2).
Defendants Sarbanand Farms and Munger Bros. (collectively,
“Growers”) share common ownership and have the
same CEO. (Dkt. Nos. 11, 18 at 16, 68 at 2-3.) Defendant
Nidia Perez acted as an employee and agent of both Defendant
Sarbanand Farms and Defendant Munger Bros. “for
purposes of any allegations against her concerning employees
hired to work on behalf of Munger Bros. . . . [and] Sarbanand
Farms through the H-2A visa program . . . during the 2017
blueberry harvest in Sumas, Washington.” (Dkt. No. 19
at 3; see also Dkt. No. 18 at 3.)
CSI has historically engaged in the solicitation of business
in Washington through WAFLA, an association of Pacific
Northwest growers: Defendant CSI was a sponsor of WAFLA's
annual conferences, and worked with WAFLA to provide workers
to Washington growers through the 2017 season. (See
Dkt. Nos. 12 at 9, 85-4 at 9.) In 2015 and 2016, Defendant
Sarbanand Farms contracted with WAFLA to provide H-2A visa
workers for the blueberry harvesting season in Sumas,
Washington. (Dkt. Nos. 68 at 2, 85-11, 85-12, 95 at 5.) WAFLA
in turn retained Defendant CSI to supply workers from Mexico
to work for Defendant Sarbanand Farms. (See Dkt. No.
2017, Growers worked directly with Defendant CSI “to
locate recruit, and supply the workers needed to harvest
blueberries in California and Washington.” (Dkt. No. 68
at 2-3; see also Dkt. No. 85-25) (PowerPoint setting
forth number of workers needed by Defendant Sarbanand Farms
in Sumas, Washington and stating that Defendant CSI would
recruit workers in Mexico). Defendant CSI entered into a
contract with Defendant Sarbanand Farms to provide
professional services in recruiting and processing H-2A visa
applicants for work in Washington. (Dkt. No. 96-18 at 14-22.)
Defendant CSI processed 103 H-2A visa applications for work
in Washington on behalf of Defendant Sarbanand Farms for the
2017 harvesting season. (Dkt. No. 89 at 2.)
filed a class action lawsuit against Growers, Defendant Nidia
Perez, and Defendant CSI. (Dkt. No. 12.) Plaintiffs assert
that Defendant CSI violated various provisions of the
Washington Farm Labor Contractors Act, Wash. Rev. Code.
§§ 19.30 et seq. (Id. at 31-32.)
Defendant CSI requests that the Court dismiss it from this
lawsuit for lack of personal jurisdiction. (Dkt. No. 86 at
Motion to Dismiss Standard of Review
against a defendant must be dismissed when a court lacks
personal jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2). When a
defendant seeks dismissal on this ground, the plaintiff must
show that the exercise of jurisdiction is appropriate.
Picot v. Weston, 780 F.3d 1206, 1211 (9th Cir.
2015). “[I]n the absence of an evidentiary hearing, the
plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing of
jurisdictional facts;” in assessing this showing, the
Court must take any uncontroverted allegations in the
plaintiff's complaint as true and resolve any conflicts
between the facts in the documentary evidence in the
plaintiff's favor. Sher v. Johnson, 911 F.2d
1357, 1361 (9th Cir. 1990); AT&T v. Compagnie
Bruxelles Lambert, 94 F.3d 586, 588 (9th Cir. 1996).
determining whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction
over a defendant is appropriate, federal courts apply the law
of the state in which they sit; in Washington, courts are
authorized to exercise jurisdiction “over a nonresident
defendant to the extent permitted by the due process clause
of the United States Constitution.” SeaHAVN, Ltd.
v. Glitnir Bank, 226 P.3d 141, 149 (Wash.Ct.App. 2010).
Thus, the only question for the Court is whether the exercise
of jurisdiction over Defendant CSI comports with the
limitations imposed by due process. See Helicopteros
Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 413
process permits a court to “subject a defendant to
judgment only when the defendant has sufficient contacts with
the sovereign ‘such that the maintenance of the suit
does not offend traditional notions of fair play and
substantial justice.'” McIntyre Mach., Ltd. v.
Nicastro, 564 U.S. 873, 880 (2011) (citing Int'l
Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945)). Fair
play and substantial justice mandate that a defendant has
minimum contacts with the forum state before it may be hailed
into a court in that forum. Int'l Shoe, 326 U.S.
at 316. The extent of these contacts can result in either
general or specific jurisdiction. Goodyear Dunlop Tires
Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 919 (2011). If
the requirements for either are met, a court may properly
exercise jurisdiction over the parties.
Helicopteros, 466 U.S. at 413-14.