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Spirit of the Law Perez V AcmeCase Study

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Perez v. Acme Universal

The proceedings of the Motion to Dismiss in the Guam District Court for the case of Perez v. Acme Universal, Inc. et al. (2014) are discussed in this paper, from both a criminal justice perspective and a biblical/Christian perspective. The paper shows that the defendants' attempt to seek a motion for dismissal is based on invalid assumptions about what constitutes a correct procedural complaint and what the spirit of the law and precedent say about the nature of the case. The judge identifies a clear definition for how the complaint should be filed and who should be identified in it, and thus lays the grounds for dismissing the Motion to Dismiss.

Perez v. Acme Universal

Introduction

The Perez v. Acme Universal, Inc. et al. (2014) motion to dismiss hearing was part of a Federal Civil Lawsuit in the Guam District Court. The nature of the criminal proceeding was a Motion to Dismiss on behalf of the Defendants, who claimed that the plaintiffs did not adequately show that the workers were protected by law and that the Defendants' were discriminatory. The case emerged following a probe of Acme Universal by the office of the Secretary of Laboras, which investigated the employment practices of the company -- a construction firm in Harmon, Guam, which employed Chinese workers through the H-2B program, a service allowing for nonimmigrant aliens to work temporarily in the U.S.

The issue in the court hearing is whether or not the court should dismiss the case based on the defendants' claim that the Secretary's argument of retaliation was unfounded. In the motion, the Defendants state that the Secretary did not succeed in alleging "any protected activity engaged in by the employees," nor adverse employment conduct exercised by the company, and that there could be found in the charge no link of causation between the protected activity and the adverse conduct (WNB, 2014).

Proceedings

The members of the courtroom workgroup consisted of the criminal prosecutor, criminal defense attorney and the judicial officer. In this hearing, the criminal prosecutor was Joseph Lake of the United States Department of Labor, representing the plaintiff Hilda Solis and Leon Pasker of the United States Department of Labor representing the plaintiffs Seth Harris and Thomas Perez (U.S. Courts, 2015). The criminal defense attorney was Michael Berman, Wilfred Mann, and Robert O'Connor representing the defendant Acme Universal (Plainsite, 2015). The judicial officer was Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood.

Analysis

Criminal justice issues raised in the proceeding are correctly portrayed and the motion to dismiss is denied by the judge based on the evidence submitted by the representatives of the defendants. The main issue of the defendant was that the prosecutor had not brought forward "sufficient factual matter accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face" as noted is essential in Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570 (Civil Case No. 12-00008, 2014). The hearing proceeding according to standard procedural guidelines -- in a two-step process of determining whether the claim made by the defendant was plausible or inplausible. The first step involves "weeding out the legal conclusions" -- i.e., the statements that are insubstantial and therefore "not entitled to the presumption of truth" (Civil Case No. 12-00008, 2014).

The claim for retaliation for which the Secretary argues the defendants are guilty is a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which states that it is unlawful for an individual to fire or discriminate a worker because the worker has filed a complaint against the employer. In this hearing, the defendants aimed to show that there was no relation between the firing and complaint by arguing for a motion to dismiss based on the grounds that the prosecutor has not shown there to be any relation between the firing and the complaint and that therefore there is no reason to suspect that the company is guilty of retaliation.

The defendants thus state that the first element of the retaliation claim is not met because the Secretary did not state that the workers of the company actually made complaints. Thus, the defendants argue that the plaintiff's never properly announced the nature of their suit in the beginning, which should be grounds for dismissal. The Secretary on the other hand argues that the defendants are mincing words and are splitting hairs by attempting to define "protected activity" in a manner that is inconsistent with the definition supplied in the Supreme Court ruling on Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp. (2011).

The Court addressed these issues by asserting that there is "no requirement" for workers who are retaliated against by employers to be named in a complaint and thus the plaintiffs can make a retaliation claim without the Court needing to decide as to whether or not the privilege of the informant was properly or correctly invoked in such a way as to validate or invalidate the case and allowing the Motion to Dismiss to proceed unencumbered.

Thus, the judge rejected the Motion to Dismiss. From a criminal justice perspective, the motion to dismiss was based on legal precedent and a clear procedural breakdown of the steps needed to weed out the truth from assumptions. In doing so, the Court placed clear distinctions and definitions before both sides and showed how the plaintiffs had not violated any procedural customs in making their claim against the defendants.

From a Christian/biblical perspective, the proceedings could be assessed from a number of perspectives. First, there is St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians in which he states, "Master, treat your workers well. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him" (Eph 6:9). Thus, from this perspective, the concept of employers retaliating against employees because of a complaint is against the Christian spirit. Second, there is the concept of legalism, which the bible expressly forbids: "The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life" (2 Cor 3:6). From this sense, the meaning can be had that by attempting to maneuver their way out of the claim laid against them by appealing to a flaw in the filing process (the plaintiffs did not follow correct procedure), the defendants are attempting a legalistic defense of a motion based on the following of the letter of the law. But it is the spirit of the law that Christ wants his followers to adhere to, for the spirit is what prompts the law into existence in the first place. There is therefore no need to split hairs about what the law means because if one is of good will and in the right spirit, the meaning of the law is evident and no arguments about splitting hairs needs to be made. The spirit of what is meant will be plain and the truth of the matter will arise instantly. By attempting to move away from this interpretation and biblical injunction, the defendants try to escape the Christian perspective on law and justice by appealing to a legalistic definition of what it means to properly make a claim.

In this manner, the proceedings are both effectively civil and appropriate according to a proper criminal justice standpoint, where the judge relies on precedent, common sense, and clear definitions to proceed accordingly; and it is also Christian in the sense that the legalistic trappings of the Motion to Dismiss are not permitted. However, the basis for the denial of the Motion is not exactly that the defendants are taking a legalistic approach to the proceedings but rather that the precedent and definition for filing the claim does not depend upon the concepts stated by the defendants.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Motion to Dismiss hearing in the case of Perez v. Acme Universal, Inc. et al. (2014) presents an illustration of the criminal justice issue of retaliation and what is required for filing a claim of retaliation by an employee against an employee. The judge shows in this case that what is required is not that the plaintiffs are named in the complaint and that the Motion to Dismiss on such grounds is based on an assumption of truth that does not stand. Thus, from a simple procedural standpoint the issue is clearly one of correct proceedings. But from a Christian standpoint, the issue is also one of basic compliance with the spirit of the law over the letter of the law, which is what the defendants attempt to assert. The judge hears both sides of the arguments and determines that the appropriate course of action is to continue with the case and allow it to proceed to trial. By pointing out that the nature of the suit is implicit within the filing of the complaint and does not depend upon the identification of the plaintiffs, the judge shows that the letter of the law is the prevailing perspective adopted by the Court and thus strikes down the Motion to Dismiss.

References

Civil Case No. 12-00008. (2014). Justia… [END OF PREVIEW]

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