United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
MICKEY FOWLER, LEISA MAURER, and a class of similarly situated individuals, Plaintiffs,
TRACY GUERIN, Director of the Washington State Department of Retirement Systems, Defendant.
ORDER GRANTING PLAINITFF'S MOTION FOR CLASS
BENJAMIN H. SETTLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on putative class
representatives Mickey Fowler and Leisa Maurer's
(“Plaintiffs”) motion for class certification.
Dkt. 43. The Court has considered the pleadings filed in
support of and in opposition to the motion, the supplemental
briefing submitted in response to the Court's request,
and the remainder of the file and hereby grants the motion
for the reasons stated herein.
PROCEDURAL HISTORY AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
are public school teachers who participate in
Washington's Teachers' Retirement System
(“TRS”), a public retirement system managed by
the Washington State Department of Retirement Services
(“DRS”). Dkt. 18-1 at 20-21. The TRS is comprised
of three separate retirement plans: Plan 1, Plan 2, and Plan
3. Id. at 21. Plaintiffs are current members of Plan
3 and former members of Plan 2. See Dkt. 1, ¶
18; Dkt. 18-1 at 48. As members of Plan 2, Plaintiffs made
contributions to their Plan 2 accounts from each paycheck.
Dkt. 1, ¶ 18. DRS tracked the contributions and
accumulated interest in individual accounts. Dkt. 18-1 at 2.
All contributions were transferred to a state-managed
comingled trust fund for investment purposes. Dkt. 18 at 4;
Dkt. 18-1 at 8.
contributions to Plan 2 accrued interest at a rate specified
by DRS. Dkt. 18-1 at 21. DRS set the rate of interest at
5.5%, compounded quarterly. Id. at 16, 18, 21. DRS
used the quarter's ending balance to calculate interest.
Dkt. 18 at 17, 20, 22. If an account had a zero balance at
the end of the quarter, it earned no interest for that
quarter. Id. at 22. Plaintiffs transferred their
contributions from Plan 2 to Plan 3. See Id. at 48.
15, 2015, Plaintiffs filed suit against Defendant Marcie
Frost (“Frost”) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Dkt.
1.Plaintiffs' only cause of action was
that the method DRS used to calculate the interest on funds
transferred between two plans within TRS deprived them of
their property in violation of the Takings Clause of the
Fifth Amendment. Dkt. 1.
September 23, 2015, the parties stipulated to class
certification. Dkt. 20. On February 24, 2015, the Court
denied the stipulated motion for class certification without
prejudice. Dkt. 21.
December 22, 2015, the Court granted Frost's motion for
summary judgment on the grounds that Plaintiffs' claims
were not ripe. Dkt. 28. On January 20, 2016, Plaintiffs
appealed to the Ninth Circuit. Dkt. 30. In the intervening
months, Tracy Guerin (“Guerin”) succeeded Marcie
Frost as the Director of DRS, becoming the named defendant in
this matter. Dkt. 52. On August 16, 2018, the Ninth Circuit
reversed and remanded. Dkt. 32. On March 13, 2019, the Ninth
Circuit denied Guerin's motion for panel rehearing and
petition for rehearing en banc. Dkt. 39. On March 21, 2019,
the Ninth Circuit issued its mandate. Dkt. 40; Fowler v.
Guerin, 899 F.3d 1112 (9th Cir. 2018), reh'g and
reh'g en banc denied, 918 F.3d 644 (2019).
April 4, 2019, Guerin moved for a stay pending resolution of
her petition for writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court.
Dkt. 41. On April 10, 2019, Plaintiffs moved for an order
certifying the class. Dkt. 43. On April 29, 3019, Guerin
responded to the motion for class certification. Dkt. 49. On
May 1, 2019, Plaintiffs replied to their motion. Dkt. 50. On
May 2, 2019, the Court denied Guerin's motion to stay.
Dkt. 51. On June 11, 2019, Guerin filed a petition for a writ
of certiorari with the Supreme Court. Dkt. 53. On June 13,
2019, the Court renoted and requested supplemental briefing
on Plaintiffs' motion for class certification (the
“June 13th Order”). Dkt. 52. On June 24, 2019,
Plaintiffs submitted supplemental briefing. Dkt. 54. On June
28, 2019, Guerin submitted a supplemental response. Dkt. 56.
certification is governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
23.” Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 564 U.S.
338, 345 (2011). “As the party seeking class
certification, [Plaintiffs] bear the burden of
demonstrating that [they] ha[ve] met each of the four
requirements of Rule 23(a) and at least one of the
requirements of Rule 23(b).” Zinser v. Accufix
Research Inst., Inc., 253 F.3d 1180, 1186 (9th Cir.
2001), amended by 273 F.3d 1266 (9th Cir. 2001).
23 does not set forth a mere pleading standard.”
Dukes, 564 U.S. at 350. Rather, “[a] party
seeking class certification must affirmatively demonstrate
his compliance with the Rule . . . .” Id.
Before certifying a class, the Court must conduct a
“rigorous analysis” to determine whether
Plaintiffs have met the requirements of Rule 23.
Zinser, 253 F.3d at 1186. “While the trial
court has broad discretion to certify a class, its discretion
must be exercised within the framework of Rule 23.”
Rule 23(a), Plaintiffs must satisfy four requirements: (1)
numerosity; (2) commonality; (3) typicality; and (4) adequacy
of representation. Parsons v. Ryan, 754 F.3d 657,
674 (9th Cir. 2014). In addition to these four requirements,
Plaintiffs must ...