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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity v. Global Horizons

March 13, 2012

U.S. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GLOBAL HORIZONS, INC. D/B/A GLOBAL HORIZONS MANPOWER, INC.; CAPTAIN COOK COFFEE COMPANY LTD.; DEL MONTE FRESH PRODUCE (HAWAII), INC.; KAUAI COFFEE COMPANY, INC.,; KELENA FARMS, INC.; MAC FARMS OF HAWAII, LLC N/K/A MF NUT CO., LLC; MAUI PINEAPPLE COMPANY, LTD. A/K/A MAUI PINEAPPLE FARMS; ALEXANDER & BALDWIN, INC.; MASSIMO ZANETTI BEVERAGE USA, INC.; AND DOES 1--15, INCLUSIVE DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: David Alan Ezra United States District Judge

ORDER: (1) GRANTING GOVERNMENT'S MOTION TO INTERVENE; AND (2) GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART GOVERNMENT'S MOTION TO STAY

On March 12, 2012, the Court heard the United States' Motion to Intervene and Motion to Stay and the Moving Defendants' Motions to Dismiss, Motions to Sever, and Motions to Strike. Sue J. Noh, Esq., Michael J. Farrell, Esq., and Lorena Garcia-Bautista, Esq., appeared on behalf of Plaintiff Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("Plaintiff" or EEOC"); Amanda Marie Jones, Esq., appeared on behalf of Defendant Captain Cook Coffee Company Ltd. ("Captain Cook"); David W.H. Chee, Esq., appeared on behalf of Defendant Del Monte Fresh Produce (Hawaii) ("Del Monte"); Gerald L. Maatman, Jr., Esq., and Mark J. Bennet, Esq., appeared on behalf of Defendants Kauai Coffee Company, Inc. ("Kauai Coffee"), Alexander & Baldwin, Inc. ("A&B"), and Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA, Inc. ("MZB"); Jim Darnell, Esq., and Sarah O. Wang, Esq., appeared on behalf of Defendant Kelena Farms, Inc. ("Kelena Farms"); Barbara A. Petrus, Esq., Anne T. Horiuchi, Esq., and Carolyn K. Wong, Esq., appeared on behalf of Defendant Mac Farms of Hawaii, LLC ("Mac Farms"); Christopher S. Yeh, Esq., appeared on behalf of Maui Pineapple Company, Ltd., ("Maui Pineapple"); and U.S. Attorney Florence T. Nakakuni appeared on behalf of the United States. Additionally, Robert J. Moossy, Jr., Esq., and Daniel H. Weiss, Esq., made a special appearance by telephone on behalf of the U.S. Civil Rights Division and Randolph S. Shiner, Esq., made a special appearance by telephone on behalf of Mordechai Yosef Orian. After reviewing the Motions and the supporting and opposing memoranda, the Court GRANTS the Government's Motion to Intervene and GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART the Government's Motion to Stay. (Doc. # 178.)

BACKGROUND

I. Criminal Case

On September 1, 2010, a Grand Jury indicted various employees of Global Horizons, Inc. ("Global") on charges of conspiracy to commit forced labor, forced labor, document servitude, and other offenses related to Global's alleged scheme to compel Thai workers' labor and service through prohibited means. United States v. Orian et al., No. 10-576 (D. Haw. filed Sept. 1, 2010). On January 12, 2011, a First Superseding Indictment was returned, indicting Global's CEO, Mordechai Orian, former Global employees Pranee Tubchumpol, Joseph Knoller, Sam Wongsesanit, Bruce Schwartz, and Shane Germann, and two Thai recruiters, Ratawan Chunharutai and Podjanee Sinchai ("Criminal Defendants"). (Id. at Doc. # 112.) The Indictment charges that between 2001 and August 2007, Orian, Tubchumpol, Knoller and their co-conspirators agreed to hold hundreds of Thai workers in forced labor through a scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause the workers to believe that if they did not perform such labor or services, they or another person would suffer serious legal harm. (Id.) The indictment also charges that Orian, Tubchumpol and others in additional counts including forced labor, conspiracy to commit document servitude, document servitude and related immigration offenses. (Id.) Defendants Schwartz, Wongsesanit and Germann have pled guilty and Defendants Sinchai and Chunharutai have not been arrested or arraigned because they are not in the United States. ("Nakakuni Decl.," Doc. # 178-2 ¶ 6.) The criminal trial as to Defendants Orian, Tubchumpol, and Knoller is scheduled to commence on August 28, 2012. (Id.)

II. Civil Case

On April 19, 2011, EEOC filed the instant action for recovery pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title 1 of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 to correct allegedly unlawful employment practices on the basis of national origin, race, and retaliation. Plaintiff claims that Defendants Global Horizons, Inc. ("Global")*fn1 , Captain Cook, Del Monte, Kauai Coffee, Kelena Farms, Mac Farms, Maui Pineapple, Alexander & Baldwin, and MZB are responsible for a pattern or practice of discrimination against Marut Kongpia, Nookrai Matwiset, Jakarin Phookhien, Mongkol Bootpasa, Janporn Suradanai, Suthat Promnonsri, Itthi Oa-Sot, and a class of similarly situated Thai and Asian individuals (collectively, "Claimants") that involved harassment, disparate treatment, retaliation, and constructive discharge on the basis of the Claimants' national origin and race. (See "SAC," Doc. # 128.)

On April 19, 2011, Plaintiff filed its initial Complaint. (Doc. # 1.) On July 15, 2011, Plaintiff filed its First Amended Complaint. (Doc. # 12.) Between July 19, 2011 and September 19, 2011, each of the Moving Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Complaint. (Docs. ## 20, 22, 29, 39, 46, 48.) On October 21, 2011, the EEOC filed a Motion to Stay this action pending the conclusion of the criminal proceedings involving employees of Defendant Global. (Doc. # 109.) The Motion to Stay was opposed by the Moving Defendants. (Doc. ## 111--112, 113--116.) On November 2, 2011, the Court issued an Order granting a stay with respect to Defendant Global and denying a stay with respect to the Moving Defendants. (Doc. # 124.) The Court also dismissed the First Amended Complaint Without Prejudice as to the Moving Defendants. (Doc. # 124.)

On December 16, 2011, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint. (Doc. # 128.) On February 15, 2012, the United States filed a Motion to Intervene and Stay Civil Discovery, seeking to stay discovery in this action until the end of the pending criminal case. (Doc. # 178.) On February 23, 2012, the United States filed an Ex Parte Motion for an Order Shortening Time to allow it to notice it's Motion to Intervene and Stay for March 12, 2012. (Doc. # 198.) The Court subsequently issued an Order Granting the Ex Parte Motion and setting a briefing schedule on the Government's Motion to Intervene and Stay Civil Discovery. (Doc. # 200.) On February 28, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Statement of No Opposition to the Government's Motion. (Doc. # 216.) On March 1, 2012, Defendants Captain Cook, Kelena Farms, Mac Farms, Del Monte, A&B, Kauai Coffee, and MZB filed Oppositions to the Government's Motion and Maui Pineapple joined in those Oppositions. (Docs. ## 217--222.) The Government filed a Reply in support of its Motion on March 6, 2012. (Doc. # 224.)

DISCUSSION

I. Motion to Intervene

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24, a party may intervene in a civil action as a matter of right or on a permissive basis. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 24. Rule 24(b) provides that "[o]n timely motion, the court may permit anyone to intervene who . . . has a claim or defense that shares with the main action a common question of law or fact." Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(b)(1), (b)(1)(B). "In exercising its discretion, the court must consider whether the intervention will unduly delay or prejudice the adjudication of the original parties' rights." Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(b)(3).

The Court concludes that the requirements for permissive intervention are met here. The Government's motion was timely as the civil action is still in its early stages. Although this action was filed more than ten months ago, the parties are still litigating the sufficiency of the pleadings and no answers have been filed; no discovery has yet occurred; and no trial date has been set. Under these circumstances, the Court finds that there is no prejudice to the Moving Defendants. See Day v. Apoliona, 505 F. 3d 963, 965 (9th Cir. 2007) ("Determination of the timeliness of a motion to intervene depends upon (1) the stage of the proceeding, (2) the prejudice to other parties, and (3) the reason for and length of the delay.") Any undue delay or prejudice perceived here does not flow from the intervention, but rather from the proposed stay. See S.E.C. v. Nicholas, 569 F. Supp. 2d 1065, 1068 (C.D. Cal. 2008). Merely permitting the Government to intervene will not significantly delay this case or "prejudice the adjudication of the original parties' rights." Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(b)(3). Also, there are questions of fact common to both the civil and criminal cases regarding the treatment of the Thai workers recruited by Global. Moreover, courts routinely permit the United States to intervene in a civil case in order to seek a stay of civil proceedings pending completion of a related criminal matter. See, e.g., Nicholas, 569 F. Supp. 2d at 1068 (collecting cases demonstrating that "numerous courts have allowed the United States Government to intervene in a civil case for the purpose of moving to stay discovery and other proceedings until the resolution of a related criminal case"); S.E.C. v. Chestman, 861 F.2d 49, 50 (2d Cir. 1998) (per curiam). The Court therefore GRANTS the Government's motion to intervene in this case.

II. Motion to Stay "The Constitution does not ordinarily require a stay of civil proceedings pending the outcome of criminal proceedings." Keating v. Office of Thrift Supervision, 45 F.3d 322, 324 (9th Cir. 1995) (citing Fed. Sav. & Loan Ins. Corp. v. Molinaro, 889 F.2d 899, 902 (9th Cir. 1989). "In the absence of substantial prejudice to the rights of the parties involved, simultaneous parallel civil and criminal proceedings are unobjectionable under our jurisprudence." Id. (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Nonetheless, a Court has the inherent ...


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