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Case Name North Carolina Growers' Association, Inc. v. Solis IM-NC-0003
Docket / Court 1:09-cv-00411-WO-LPA ( M.D. N.C. )
State/Territory North Carolina
Case Type(s) Immigration
Case Summary
On June 9, 2009, several agricultural growth and trade associations that employ immigrant workers under the H-2A or H-2B nonimmigrant visa programs filed a class action lawsuit in the Middle District Court of North Carolina under the Administrative Procedure Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act ... read more >
On June 9, 2009, several agricultural growth and trade associations that employ immigrant workers under the H-2A or H-2B nonimmigrant visa programs filed a class action lawsuit in the Middle District Court of North Carolina under the Administrative Procedure Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of Labor ("DOL"). The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, sought injunctive relief, declaratory relief, and attorneys' fees and costs, claiming that the defendants' proposed "Solis Final Rule" is arbitrary and has significant deficiencies, such as opening agricultural growers to significant liability and requiring growers to give different wages and work conditions to H-2A workers on short notice and without an adequate public comment period.

Before the promulgation of the "Chao Rule," the H-2A nonimmigrant visa program was plagued with severe administrative and processing issues, such as long delays, but was the only viable legal route to obtaining certain immigrant workers. Then, in January 2009, after months of working on solving many of the issues associated with the H-2A program and receiving comments from the public, the DOL promulgated the "Chao Rule." As a result of this rule, the H-2A program was streamlined, the calculation of wages and required expenses were clarified, and workers were given more rights. Employers also did not have to pay for the moving expense during the first week of work, which the growers pushed for. It also included in the H-2A program guest workers in the logging industry and agricultural packing house operations and excluded such workers from certain FLSA regulations. These workers used to have to apply under the H-2B program which, unlike the H-2A program which has no caps, had longer application wait times since the caps for the whole year were generally filled by March.

In March 2009, Hilda Solis was sworn in as Secretary of Labor and proposed the "Solis Final Rule" to replace the "Chao Rule." The "Solis Rule" would potentially allow workers to sue their employers for FLSA violations that occurred from January 2009 to March 2009 even though they were legal and not violations under the "Chao Rule." The plaintiffs alleged that DOL promulgated a new rule without a reasonable public comment period and in the middle of the growing season. Further, they alleged that the DOL's reasoning behind replacing the "Chao Rule" with the "Solis Rule" was flawed and would significantly harm the farming business.

On July 1, 2009, the District Court (Judge William Lindsay Osteen, Jr.) granted the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction due to the relatively slight amount of harm the defendants will suffer from not being able to implement the new "Solis Rule" and the likelihood of plaintiffs' success on the merits. On August 4, 2009 , the defendants appealed this ruling to the Fourth Circuit. On October 14, 2009, the District Court (Judge Osteen) denied the defendants' motion to stay the case until their appeal is decided, and on November 19, 2009, the Fourth Circuit (Judge Paul Victor Niemeyer, Judge Dennis W. Shedd, and Judge J. Harvey Wilkinson III) likewise denied the defendants' motion to stay the district court case. While the appeal was pending, on December 3, 2009, the District Court (Judge Osteen, Jr.) allowed other farm organizations and individuals to intervene as defendants. On March 30, 2010, the Fourth Circuit (Judge Niemeyer, Judge Shedd, and Judge Wilkinson) dismissed the defendants' appeal.

The parties went through discovery and on October 4, 2011, the District Court (Judge William Lindsay Osteen, Jr.): denied the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment against the federal defendants; granted the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment against the defendant-intervenors; permanently enjoined implementation of the new "Solis Rule;" and dismissed the defendant-intervenors' claims. On November 1, 2011, the defendant-intervenors filed a notice of appeal but on December 21, 2012 the Fourth Circuit (Judge Albert Diaz, Judge Barbara Milano Kennan, and Judge J. Harvey Wilkinson III) affirmed the District Court's grant of summary judgment to the plaintiffs.

The District Court retained jurisdiction for the bill of costs and on January 17, 2013 charged defendants $384.74 to be paid to the plaintiffs.

Perry Miska - 03/16/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Immigration
Admission - criteria
Admission - procedure
Employment
Status/Classification
Temporary foreign workers program
Visas - criteria
Visas - procedures
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Non-government for profit
Non-government non-profit
Causes of Action Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Defendant(s) U.S. Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Labor
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs are agricultural growth and trade associations that employ immigrant workers under the H-2A or H-2B nonimmigrant visa programs.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Unknown
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement Confession of Judgment
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2013
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Threats to the Future of the Immigration Class Action
Washington University Journal of Law and Policy
By: Jill E. Family (Widener University School of Law)
Citation: 27 Wash. U. J.L. & Pol'y 71 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:09−cv−00411 (M.D. N.C.) 02/12/2013
IM-NC-0003-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 06/09/2009
IM-NC-0003-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [Granting Preliminary Injunction] 06/29/2009 (2009 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 54733) (M.D. N.C.)
IM-NC-0003-0002.pdf | LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Memorandum Opinion and Order [Granting Preliminary Injunction] 07/01/2009 (644 F.Supp.2d 664) (M.D. N.C.)
IM-NC-0003-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [USCA Denying Stay Pending Appeal] 11/19/2009
IM-NC-0003-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [Granting Motion to Intervene] 12/03/2009 (2009 WL 4729113 / 2009 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 113078) (M.D. N.C.)
IM-NC-0003-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [USCA Granting Motion to Dismiss Appeal] 03/30/2010
IM-NC-0003-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [Granting Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and Denying Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment] 10/04/2011 (2011 WL 4708026 / 2011 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 114775) (M.D. N.C.)
IM-NC-0003-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Regarding Attorneys' Fees] 10/31/2011 (M.D. N.C.)
IM-NC-0003-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion [Affirming District Court Order Granting Summary Judgment for Plaintiffs] 12/21/2012 (702 F.3d 755)
IM-NC-0003-0009.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Bill of Costs 01/17/2013
IM-NC-0003-0010.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Auld, Patrick Court not on record
IM-NC-0003-9000
Diaz, Albert (Fourth Circuit)
IM-NC-0003-0009
Keenan, Barbara Milano (Fourth Circuit)
IM-NC-0003-0009
Niemeyer, Paul Victor (Fourth Circuit, D. Md.)
IM-NC-0003-0004
Osteen, William Lindsay Jr. (M.D. N.C.)
IM-NC-0003-0002 | IM-NC-0003-0003 | IM-NC-0003-0005 | IM-NC-0003-0007 | IM-NC-0003-0008 | IM-NC-0003-9000
Shedd, Dennis W. (Fourth Circuit, D.S.C.)
IM-NC-0003-0004
Wilkinson, J. Harvie III Court not on record
IM-NC-0003-0004 | IM-NC-0003-0009
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Loftis, William Randolph Jr. (North Carolina)
IM-NC-0003-0001 | IM-NC-0003-0010 | IM-NC-0003-9000 | IM-NC-0003-9000
Shea, Robin E. (North Carolina)
IM-NC-0003-0010 | IM-NC-0003-9000 | IM-NC-0003-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Beck, Gill P. (North Carolina)
IM-NC-0003-9000
Forney, Geoffrey (District of Columbia)
IM-NC-0003-9000
Goldstein, Bruce Nevin (District of Columbia)
IM-NC-0003-9000 | IM-NC-0003-9000
Schell, Gregory Scott (Florida)
IM-NC-0003-9000 | IM-NC-0003-9000
Turner, Andrew Hess (Alabama)
IM-NC-0003-9000 | IM-NC-0003-9000
Willenson, Marni (District of Columbia)
IM-NC-0003-9000 | IM-NC-0003-9000
Willis, Robert (North Carolina)
IM-NC-0003-9000 | IM-NC-0003-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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