United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
BARBARO ROSAS and GUADALUPE TAPIA, as individuals and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
SARBANAND FARMS, LLC, MUNGER BROS., LLC, NIDIA PEREZ, and CSI VISA PROCESSING S.C., Defendants.
C. COUGHENOUR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs' motion for
partial summary judgment on their claims arising under the
Farm Labor Contractors Act (“FLCA”), Wash. Rev.
Code § 19.30.010 et seq. (Dkt. No. 84). Having
thoroughly considered the parties' briefing and the
relevant record, the Court finds oral argument unnecessary
and hereby GRANTS in part and DENIES in part the motion for
the reasons explained herein.
Court set forth the underlying facts of this case in a prior
order and will not repeat them here. (See Dkt. No.
74.) On December 20, 2018, the Court certified a class and
two subclasses of Mexican national migrant farm workers.
(Id. at 26-27.) The Court certified the class on
Plaintiffs' claims that Defendant CSI Visa Processing
S.C. (“CSI”) violated the FLCA and for Defendants
Sarbanand Farms, LLC and Munger Bros., LLC (collectively,
“Growers”) resultant liability. (Id. at
a Mexican corporation. (Dkt. No. 89 at 1.) CSI
“provides visa processing services in Mexico for
various United States organizations seeking temporary
farmworkers under the H-2A Guest Worker Program.”
(Id.) CSI's business activities take place in
Mexico, which include processing potential farmworkers'
visa applications and providing representation at the United
States consulate. (Id. at 2.) CSI has provided
recruiting and H-2A processing services to United States
employers for many years. (Dkt. No. 85-1 at 2.) In its
promotional materials, CSI states that it assists over 2, 000
employers across the United States, including Washington
(Dkt. Nos. 85-4 at 3, 100-1 at 1.) CSI employees have
attended WAFLA conferences in Washington, where CSI
provided materials describing and promoting its services.
(Dkt. No. 88 at 2; see, e.g., Dkt. Nos. 85-4 at
2-14; 85-7 at 3-4; 85-8 at 2.)
visa application process generally begins when a prospective
employer sends a preselected list of preferred workers to
CSI. (Dkt. No. 100 at 1.) Alternatively, CSI may review
applications submitted through its online registration portal
to select qualified applicants for an employer.
(Id.) CSI describes its online registration form as
“essentially a self-explanatory portal that allowed
workers to submit an application for an H-2A visa so that he
or she could work in the United States.” (Id.
at 2.) CSI also maintains a Facebook page that directs
visitors to submit an H-2A visa application through CSI's
online registration portal. (Id. at 2.)
and 2016, Defendant Sarbanand Farms contracted with WAFLA to
obtain H-2A workers to pick blueberries in Sumas, Washington.
(Dkt. Nos. 85-11-85-12.) The contracts provided that WAFLA
would be responsible for maintaining contracts with third
party agents that recruited or assisted foreign workers.
(Id.) WAFLA retained CSI to obtain H-2A workers in
Mexico. (Dkt. No. 85-15 at 2-7.) Beginning in 2017, Growers
decided to expand their use of H-2A workers to farms in
California. (Dkt. No. 68 at 2.) Growers hired Giovanna Sierra
to advise them about the H-2A program, and contracted with
CSI to “locate, recruit, and supply” H-2A workers
for work in California and Washington. (Id. at 2-3;
see also Dkt. Nos. 68 at 3, 85-25) (declaration of
CEO of Defendant Munger Bros. and Growers' “H-2A
Planning Overview Sumas” PowerPoint presentation slides
describing CSI's role).
2017, CSI's Director of Compliance Roxana Macias
contacted Washington's Department of Labor and Industries
(“L&I”) about whether CSI had to register as
a farm labor contractor under the FLCA. (Dkt. No. 88 at 3.)
Tisa Soeteber, an Agricultural Employment Standards
Specialist for L&I, informed Macias that CSI was not
required to register, and in fact could not register, as a
farm labor contractor because CSI was located outside of the
United States. (Id.; see Dkt. No. 88-1.)
L&I's Employment Standards Program Manager David
Johnson stated in his Rule 30(b)(6) deposition that
Soeteber's advice was inaccurate. (See Dkt. Nos.
96-32 at 4-6, 106 at 6.) Johnson stated that CSI needed a
license regardless of where it was located if it was
conducting any farm labor contractor activity in Washington.
(Dkt. No. 96-32 at 4, 6.) Johnson stated that Soeteber's
advice did not have an articulable basis in law or an L&I
policy. (See id. at 5-6.) CSI admits that it did not
have a Washington farm labor contractor's license during
the times relevant to this case. (See Dkt. Nos. 12
at 5, 31 at 4.)
2017, CSI processed the class members' visa applications
to work in the United States under H-2A visas. (Dkt. Nos. 84
at 6-11, 89 at 1, 100 at 2.) CSI initially provided Growers
with 600 H-2A workers to work in California, who were on a
preselected list produced by Defendant Munger Bros. (Dkt.
Nos. 100 at 2, 103 at 2.) At the end of their work in
California, the 600 H-2A workers were given the choice to
return to Mexico or transfer to Sumas, Washington for further
work. (Dkt. No. 103 at 2.) About 500 H-2A workers elected to
transfer to Washington, leaving approximately 100 open H-2A
positions for work in Washington. (Id.)
Sarbanand Farms contracted with CSI to locate additional
workers in Mexico and process their H-2A applications.
(Id.; see Dkt. No. 96-18 at 14-22.)
Ultimately, CSI processed visas for 103 additional workers
that were sent directly to Washington to work for Defendant
Sarbanand Farms. (Dkt. No. 103 at 2.) 36 workers were
preselected by Defendant Munger Bros. (Id.) The
remaining 67 workers “contacted CSI via its website and
asked to be considered for an H-2A visa. CSI then processed
visas on their behalf.” (Id. at 2-3.)
the visa application process, CSI informed at least some
class members that they would be working in Washington or
would start working in California and then move to
Washington. (See, e.g., Dkt. Nos. 85-30 at 2, 85-35
at 3, 85-36 at 5.) CSI helped workers set up interviews at
the U.S. consulate, (see Dkt. No. 84 at 12-13;
see generally Dkt. Nos. 85-42-85-46), and picked up
visas for workers after they were processed. (Dkt. No. 85-41
at 2.) CSI's contracts with Growers provided that CSI
would receive a fee of $85 for each worker that was sent to
work in the United States. (See Dkt. No. 96-18 at
10-11, 19-20; see also Dkt. No. 85-25 at 8.) CSI
received a fee when it processed visas on behalf of the
workers initially sent to California, but did not receive an
additional fee when approximately 500 of those workers were
transferred from California to Washington. (Dkt. Nos. 100 at
2, 103 at 2.) CSI received a fee when it processed visas on
behalf of the workers sent directly to Washington to work for
Defendant Sarbanand Farms. (Dkt. Nos. 100 at 2-3, 100 at 2.)
CSI did not play a role in determining where class members
were employed in the United States. (Dkt. No. 88 at 1.)
move for summary judgment on their claims arising under the
FLCA. (Dkt. No. 84.)
court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In making such a determination, the Court
must view the facts and justifiable inferences to be drawn
therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 255 (1986). Once a motion for summary judgment is
properly made and supported, the opposing party “must
come forward with ‘specific facts showing that there is
a genuine issue for trial.'”
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)).
Material facts are those that may affect ...