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Molock v. Whole Foods Mkt. Grp., Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

September 25, 2019, Argued; March 10, 2020, Decided

No. 18-7162

Opinion

Tatel, Circuit Judge: In this not yet certified class action, the defendant moved to dismiss all nonresident putative class members for lack of personal jurisdiction. The district court denied the motion on the merits. We affirm, but on alternative grounds. ] Absent class certification, [*2]  putative class members are not parties before a court, rendering the defendant's motion premature.

Whole Foods, a Delaware corporation headquartered in Texas, allegedly manipulated its incentive-based bonus program, resulting in employees losing wages otherwise owed to them. Current and former Whole Foods employees (the Employees) initiated this diversity action in the District Court for the District of Columbia to recover the purportedly lost wages. The Employees brought various state law claims and sought to represent a putative class of "past and present employees of Whole Foods." Second Am. Class Action Compl. 25.

Whole Foods moved to dismiss on several grounds, only one of which is relevant here: it argued that the district court lacked personal jurisdiction to entertain the claims of the nonresident putative class members. The district court denied the motion and certified its order for interlocutory appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b). Whole Foods then filed a petition for leave to appeal, which this court granted.

] We review the district court's denial of Whole Foods' motion to dismiss de novo. See Liff v. Office of Inspector Gen. for the United States DOL, 881 F.3d 912, 918, 434 U.S. App. D.C. 244 (D.C. Cir. 2018) ("We review de novo the District Court's legal conclusions denying a motion to dismiss.").

II [*3] .

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2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 7404 *; 952 F.3d 293

MICHAEL MOLOCK, ET AL., APPELLEES v. WHOLE FOODS MARKET GROUP, INC., APPELLANT

Prior History:  [*1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. (No. 1:16-cv-02483).

Molock v. Whole Foods Mkt., Inc., 297 F. Supp. 3d 114, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42582 (D.D.C., Mar. 15, 2018)

CORE TERMS

personal jurisdiction, district court, putative class member, class action, parties, motion to dismiss, class certification, nonresident, class member, discovery, limits, federal court, plaintiffs', absent class members, unnamed, Employees, contacts, state court, premature, purposes, putative class, diversity, quotation, courts, marks, lack of personal jurisdiction, nationwide class, party status, certification, named plaintiff

Civil Procedure, Special Proceedings, Class Actions, Certification of Classes, Class Members, Parties, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Responses, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Dismiss, In Rem & Personal Jurisdiction, In Personam Actions, Minimum Contacts, Jurisdiction, In Personam Actions, Standards of Review, Reviewability of Lower Court Decisions, Preservation for Review, Discovery & Disclosure, Discovery, Undue Burdens in Discovery, Abuse of Discretion