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Williams v. Mucci Pac, U.S.A., Ltd.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan

July 10, 2013

SHANEKA WILLIAMS, et al., Plaintiffs,
MUCCI PAC, U.S.A., LTD, et al., Defendants

For SHANEKA WILLIAMS, AHMONIQUE BROWN, SANDRA MITCHELL, Plaintiffs: Anthony D. Paris, Detroit, MI; John C. Philo, Detroit, MI.

For MUCCI PAC, LTD, MUCCI PAC U.S.A., MUCCI FARMS LTD, Defendants: Davidde A. Stella, Kerr, Russell, Detroit, MI; Mark C. Knoth, Kerr, Russell and Weber, PLC, Detroit, MI.


HONORABLE STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III, United States District Judge.

Page 836


In this putative class action, plaintiffs Shaneka Williams, Ahmonique Brown, and Sandra Mitchell (" Plaintiffs" ) brought suit against defendants Mucci Pac U.S.A., Ltd., Mucci Pac Ltd., and Mucci Farms Ltd. for violation of the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (the " WARN Act" ), 28 U.S.C. § § 2101-2109. Mucci Pac Ltd. and Mucci Farms Ltd. are Canadian entities; Mucci Pac U.S.A., Ltd. (" Mucci Pac" ) is an American entity. The Canadian defendants have filed two motions to dismiss, for insufficient service of process, and lack of personal jurisdiction, that remain pending. See ECF Nos. 11 and 20. The matter before the Court is the Mucci Pac U.S.A. defendant's motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 12. The Court finds a hearing unnecessary to resolve the motion. See E.D. Mich. L.R. 7.1(f)(2). For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the motion, which will dispose of Plaintiffs' claim and close the case.


Plaintiffs are former employees of Mucci Pac, a produce packaging facility located in Taylor, Michigan. Mucci Decl. ¶ 3, ECF No. 12-2. Plaintiffs contend that Mucci Pac, acting as a " single employer" with the Canadian defendants, engaged in a mass layoff at the Taylor facility without providing the notice to employees required by WARN Act. Specifically, Plaintiffs contend that on November 2, 2011, Mucci Pac terminated forty-five workers; on November

Page 837

16, 2011, it terminated nineteen workers; and between November 17, 2011 and January 17, 2012, it terminated an additional seven workers. Thomas Affidavit ¶ ¶ 16-24, ECF No. 15-2. Tracking the requirements of the WARN Act, Plaintiffs contend that " said terminations affected more than fifty (50) workers who comprised more than thirty-three (33%) of the employees at the Taylor facility," and that " prior to their termination, they and the other Class members did not receive written notice at least sixty (60) days in advance of the termination of their employment." Resp. 10, ECF No. 15; see also 29 U.S.C. § 2101(a)(3)(B).


Mucci Pac moves to dismiss under Civil Rule 12(b)(6), or in the alternative, for summary judgment under Civil Rule 56. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12; Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. The Court will resolve the motion under Civil Rule 56. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d) (providing that if, on a motion to dismiss, matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56, and all parties must be given a " reasonable opportunity" to present pertinent materials). " The 'reasonable opportunity' language of Rule 12[(d)] is designed to prevent unfair surprise." Dayco Corp. v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 523 F.2d 389, 393 (6th Cir. 1975). But Plaintiffs cannot claim unfair surprise when the motion itself put Plaintiffs on notice that Mucci Pac sought summary judgment, and both parties submitted for the Court's consideration matters outside the pleadings. Id. (finding no unfair surprise where nonmovant filed its own affidavits in response); see also Ball v. Union Carbide Corp., 385 F.3d 713, 719 (6th Cir. 2004) (" They had notice that the district court might treat the motion as one for summary judgment because such a motion was actually filed, and they responded to it." ).

The Court will also not delay resolution of the motion pending discovery. A motion for summary judgment may be filed at any time prior to 30 days after the close of discovery. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(b); see also Short v. Oaks Corr. Facility, 129 F. App'x 278, 280 (6th Cir. 2005) (noting that the Rule " contemplates that a defending party may move for summary judgment even before any discovery has been taken." ). If a nonmovant requires additional discovery to properly defend against a motion for summary judgment, it may request more time by showing " by affidavit or declaration that, for specified reasons, it cannot present facts essential to justify its opposition." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(d); see also Short, 129 F. App'x at 281 (6th Cir. 2005) (" This subsection of the rule provides a mechanism for a plaintiff and the courts to give effect to the well-established principle that 'the plaintiff must receive 'a full opportunity to conduct discovery' to be able to successfully defeat a motion for summary judgment.' " ) (citations omitted). The court may then defer consideration of the motion, deny it, allow time for discovery, or enter any other appropriate order. Id.

Plaintiffs refer to Civil Rule 56(d) in their Response, but they have not submitted any affidavit or declaration to support a request for discovery. See CareToLive v. Food & Drug Admin., 631 F.3d 336, 345 (6th Cir. 2011) (" Without CareToLive having filed a proper affidavit, the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying discovery." ). Moreover, they state that they believe the evidence before the Court is sufficient to survive a motion for summary judgment. See Resp. 11 (" [T]he current ...

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