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Sunday, April 01, 2018

The danger of universal injunctions

If you want to see the consequences of inappropriate universal injunctions, look no further than the contempt order imposed by Judge Mazzant of the Eastern District of Texas on the associates of a large firm.

Mazzant issued a universal injunction in 2016 against Obama-era minimum-wage regulations, in an action brought by several states against the Department of Labor. Lawyers representing an individual filed an action in the District of New Jersey against Chipotle seeking to enforce the regulations. Judge Mazzant ordered the attorneys to dismiss the New Jersey action and held the attorneys in contempt. Mazzant held that DOL represented the interests of the individual workers, such as the New Jersey plaintiff, who would be affected by the rule.

The problem here is  the court expanding the scope of the injunction rather than waiting for preclusion to do its work. The injunction should have been limited to DOL (and nationwide, by applying anywhere DOL attempted to enforce the regulations). But there was no reason for the injunction to extend beyond DOL or for this to be resolved as a question of contempt. To the extent DOL represented the interests of individuals (a questionable proposition), that should have been addressed as a matter of preclusion in the D.N.J. case, with the New Jersey court determining whether the second action was precluded.

This case also shows that allowing universal injunctions may harm individual non-parties rather than benefiting them. Proponents of universal injunctions argue that a district court ruling declaring a law or regulation invalid should protect other persons against whom the rule may be applied, without making them file their own lawsuits and obtain their own injunctions. This case presents the flip side--a universal injunction depriving potential rights-holders of any opportunity to litigate these issues themselves.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on April 1, 2018 at 08:23 PM in Civil Procedure, Howard Wasserman, Law and Politics | Permalink


Just to quote , in more concrete terms , the issues , rendering the department of labor interpretation , illegal ,resulting so in such Universal injunction , here :

" Here, the precise question at issue is what constitutes an employee employed in a “bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity.” Since the statute does not define the terms “executive, “administrative,” ( p. 11 )

And ( p. 13 ) :

The fact that bona fide modifies the terms executive, administrative, and professional capacity suggests the exemption should apply to those employees who, in good faith, perform actual executive, administrative, or professional capacity duties. Therefore, the Court finds Section 213(a)(1) is unambiguous because the plain meanings of the words in the statute indicate Congress’s intent for employees doing “bona fide executive, administrative ,or professional capacity” duties to be exempt from overtime pay.


Posted by: El roam | Apr 2, 2018 8:29:21 AM

Wasserman , you do not like them indeed ( those Universals ) but once again , you don't bother to deal with the substantive issue , and it is the legal basis for it . What counts , is that once a prima facie , unconstitutional and fundamentally illegal conduct have been proven , the Universal injunction is absolutely warranted . In this case ( like others ) it is clear , I quote :

" Because the Final Rule would exclude so many employees who perform exempt duties , the Department fail to carry out congress's unambiguous intent . Thus , the Final Rule does not meet " Chevron " step one and is unlawful " .

And more quoting the supreme court :

" the judiciary is the final authority on issues of statutory construction and must reject administrative construction which are contrary to clear congressional intent "

End of quotation :

So , once again proven , the agency ( Department of labor ) has failed , in Federal terms , to correctly interpreted a statute . How would it matter further , who are the litigants and in what state or geographical section they are ? It is a federal default !!

Now , the department has failed clearly , to comply with that order of court , which was in effect at the time of none compliance .And that's it !!

Here one can reach the contempt order :


Here the main decision :



Posted by: El roam | Apr 2, 2018 6:51:22 AM

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