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Case 2:17-cv-07203-CAS-SS Document 31 Filed 03/16/18 Page 1 of 12 Page ID #:690

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT


CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

CIVIL MINUTES – GENERAL ‘O’ JS-6


Case No.  2:17-cv-07203-CAS(SSx) Date March 16, 2018
Title  RICK SIEGEL V. JULIE SU
 

Present: The Honorable CHRISTINA A. SNYDER


Catherine Jeang Not Present N/A
Deputy Clerk Court Reporter / Recorder Tape No.
Attorneys Present for Plaintiffs: Attorneys Present for Defendants:
Not Present Not Present

Proceedings: (IN CHAMBERS) - DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT


ON THE PLEADINGS (Dkt. 13, filed November 30, 2017)

PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (Dkt. 14,


filed December 4, 2017)

I. INTRODUCTION
Plaintiff Rick Siegel (“Siegel”) is a personal manager in the entertainment
industry and the owner of Marathon Entertainment, Inc. On July 24, 2017, Siegel,
proceeding pro se, filed a declaratory judgment action in Los Angeles County Superior
Court against defendant Julia Su, the California Labor Commissioner, in her official
capacity (the “Labor Commissioner”). Dkt. 1 (“Compl.”). In the complaint, Siegel
alleges that California’s Talent Agencies Act (“TAA”), Cal. Lab. Code §§ 1700 et seq.,
violates the United States and California Constitutions on its face and as applied to him.
In particular, Siegel contends that: (1) the TAA, both facially and as applied, is
unconstitutionally vague under the due process clauses of the United States and
California Constitutions; and (2) the TAA substantially burdens interstate commerce and
thus violates the dormant Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.1 On
September 29, 2017, the Labor Commissioner removed the action based on federal
question jurisdiction.
On October 8, 2017, the Court determined that this case is related to an action
brought by Siegel in 2008, see Siegel v. Bradstreet, No. CV 08-2480 CAS (SSX), 2008
                                                            
1
The complaint asserts nine claims for declaratory relief. The first six claims
articulate Siegel’s void-for-vagueness theory. The seventh claim alleges a violation of
the dormant Commerce Clause. The eighth and ninth claims involve procedural and
substantive due process challenges; however the Court approved the parties’ stipulation
to dismiss the eighth and ninth claims on November 29, 2017. See dkt. 12.
 
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

CIVIL MINUTES – GENERAL ‘O’ JS-6


Case No.  2:17-cv-07203-CAS(SSx) Date March 16, 2018
Title  RICK SIEGEL V. JULIE SU
 
WL 4195949 (C.D. Cal. Sept. 8, 2008), aff’d, 360 F.App’x 832 (9th Cir. 2009), and
reassigned the case accordingly. Dkt. 7. On November 30, 2017, the Labor
Commissioner filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings. Dkt. 13 (“MJP”). On
December 4, 2017, Siegel filed a motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 14. The parties
have fully briefed both motions. See dkts. 16 (“Opp’n”), 20, 22 (“Reply”), 27. The
Labor Commissioner argues that (1) this Court’s prior judgment has claim- and issue-
preclusive effect; and (2) Siegel’s constitutional challenges fail on the merits. The Court
held a hearing on February 12, 2018. Having carefully considered the parties’ arguments,
the Court finds and concludes as follows.
II. BACKGROUND
A. The TAA
The TAA regulates the conduct of talent agencies that represent artists. See Cal.
Lab. Code §§ 1700 et seq. “Talent agency” is defined as “a person or corporation who
engages in the occupation of procuring, offering, promising, or attempting to procure
employment or engagements for an artist or artists.” Id. § 1700.4. This definition “does
not cover other services for which artists often contract, such as personal and
career management (i.e., advice, direction, coordination, and oversight with respect to an
artist’s career or personal or financial affairs).” Styne v. Stevens, 26 Cal.4th 42, 51
(2001). However, the TAA does “extend[] to individual incidents of procurement.”
Marathon Entm’t, Inc. v. Blasi, 42 Cal. 4th 974, 988 (2008). Thus, the TAA applies to a
personal manager, like Siegel, if he “solicits or procures employment for his artist-
client.” Id. at 986. The TAA requires a talent agency, or a personal manager who solicits
or procures employment for artists, to obtain a license. See Cal. Labor Code § 1700.5.
The TAA does not, however, specify the remedy for a violation of this provision, i.e. the
unlicensed procurement of employment on behalf of an artist. In Marathon, the
California Supreme Court recognized that notwithstanding the TAA’s silence in this
regard, when a personal manager engages in unlicensed procurement, the Labor
Commissioner may void the manager–artist contract in its entirety or apply the doctrine
of contract severability to enforce the contract in part. 42 Cal.4th at 994–96.
B. The 2008 Action
On April 15, 2008, Siegel, proceeding pro se, filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action for
injunctive and declaratory relief against Angela M. Bradstreet, the Labor Commissioner
at that time. Dkt. 13 (“RJN”), Ex. A. Among other claims, Siegel alleged that the TAA
is unconstitutionally vague because (1) there is uncertainty with regard to who falls
 
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

CIVIL MINUTES – GENERAL ‘O’ JS-6


Case No.  2:17-cv-07203-CAS(SSx) Date March 16, 2018
Title  RICK SIEGEL V. JULIE SU
 
within the scope of the TAA; (2) because the TAA does not define “procurement,” it does
not provide fair warning as to what conduct is prohibited; and (3) the TAA does not give
notice of the penalty for engaging in prohibited conduct. Id. at 4–8. On July 14, 2008,
the Court granted the Labor Commissioner’s Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)
motion to dismiss the complaint with leave to amend. RJN, Ex. B. The Court concluded
that Siegel’s void-for-vagueness claim lacked merit because “the TAA clearly states that
a ‘talent agency’, is ‘a person or corporation who engages in the occupation of’ procuring
or soliciting employment for an artist.” Id. at 13–14 (quoting Cal. Lab. Code § 1700.4).
The Court also rejected the argument that the TAA is unconstitutionally vague “because
it does not state the consequences for engaging in prohibited conduct.” Id. at 14. Based
on the California Supreme Court’s decision in Marathon, the Court found it “quite clear
that a contract to procure employment for an artist without a license will be
unenforceable unless severance is available.” Id.
On July 25, 2008, Siegel filed a first amended complaint (“FAC”). RJN, Ex. C.
Among other claims, Siegel’s FAC again alleged that the TAA is unconstitutionally
vague because it is not “reasonably definite as to what persons and conduct are covered
as well as the punishment that can be imposed.” Id. at 3. The Labor Commissioner filed
a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), which the Court granted. See Siegel, 2008
WL 4195949, at *5. The Court concluded that it had already addressed and rejected
Siegel’s void-for-vagueness claim on the merits. Id. at *3–4. The Court denied leave to
amend after determining that Siegel could not allege any facts consistent with his
pleading that would cure the deficiencies previously identified. Id. at *5. The Ninth
Circuit affirmed the Court’s ruling in an unpublished opinion. See Siegel v. Bradstreet,
360 F.App’x 832 (9th Cir. 2009).
III. LEGAL STANDARDS
A. Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
Under Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a party may move for
judgment on the pleadings at any time after the pleadings are closed, so long as the
motion is filed in sufficient time that it will not delay trial. “For the purposes of the
motion, the allegations of the non-moving party must be accepted as true, while the
allegations of the moving party which have been denied are assumed to be false.” Hal
Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner and Co., Inc., 896 F.2d 1542, 1550 (9th Cir. 1990).
“Judgment on the pleadings is proper when the moving party clearly establishes on the

 
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

CIVIL MINUTES – GENERAL ‘O’ JS-6


Case No.  2:17-cv-07203-CAS(SSx) Date March 16, 2018
Title  RICK SIEGEL V. JULIE SU
 
face of the pleadings that no material issue of fact remains to be resolved and that it is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Id.
In deciding a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the court generally is limited
to the pleadings and may not consider extrinsic evidence. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c)
(stating that a Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings should be converted into
a Rule 56 motion for summary judgment if matters outside the pleadings are considered
by the court). A district court may, however, consider documents “whose contents are
alleged in a complaint and whose authenticity no party questions, but which are not
physically attached to the pleading.” Branch v. Tunnell, 14 F.3d 449, 454 (9th Cir.
1994). Moreover, a district court may consider a document if the complaint “necessarily
relie[s]” on it, and the authenticity of the document is not challenged. Parrino v. FHP,
Inc., 146 F.3d 699, 706 (9th Cir. 1998).
B. Res Judicata
Under federal law, “the preclusive effect of a judgment is defined by claim
preclusion and issue preclusion, which are collectively referred to as ‘res judicata.’ ”
Taylor v. Sturgell, 553 U.S. 880, 892 (2008). Claim preclusion applies when “a final
judgment on the merits of an action precludes the parties or their privies from relitigating
issues that were or could have been raised in that action.” Allen v. McCurry, 449 U.S.
90, 93 (1980). “Claim preclusion is a broad doctrine that bars bringing claims that were
previously litigated as well as some claims that were never before adjudicated.”
Clements v. Airport Auth. of Washoe County, 69 F.3d 321, 327 (9th Cir. 1995).
“Claim preclusion applies when there is (1) an identity of claims; (2) a final
judgment on the merits; and (3) identity or privity between the parties.” Cell
Therapeutics, Inc. v. Lash Grp. Inc., 586 F.3d 1204, 1212 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal
quotation marks omitted). The factors to consider in determining whether there is an
“identity of claims” include:
(1) whether rights or interests established in the prior judgment would be
destroyed or impaired by prosecution of the second action; (2) whether
substantially the same evidence is presented in the two actions; (3) whether
the two suits involve infringement of the same right; and (4) whether the two
suits arise out of the same transactional nucleus of facts.
Turtle Island Restoration Network v. U.S. Dep’t of State, 673 F.3d 914, 917–18 (9th Cir.
2012). “The last of these criteria is the most important.” Id.
 
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

CIVIL MINUTES – GENERAL ‘O’ JS-6


Case No.  2:17-cv-07203-CAS(SSx) Date March 16, 2018
Title  RICK SIEGEL V. JULIE SU
 
Whether two actions arise out of the “same transactional nucleus of facts” depends
on “whether they are related to the same set of facts and whether they could conveniently
be tried together.” Mpoyo v. Litton Electro-Optical Systems, 430 F.3d 985, 987 (9th Cir.
2005). “In most cases, the inquiry into the ‘same transactional nucleus of facts’ is
essentially the same as whether the claim could have been brought in the first action.”
Turtle Island Restoration Network, 673 F.3d at 918 (internal quotation marks omitted).
Claims that arise from the same factual circumstances must be brought by a plaintiff in a
single lawsuit or the plaintiff “forfeit[s] the opportunity to bring any omitted claim in a
subsequent proceeding.” Id. at 918.
By contrast, the doctrine of issue preclusion bars “ ‘successive litigation of an issue
of fact or law actually litigated and resolved in a valid court determination essential to the
prior judgment,’ even if the issue recurs in the context of a different claim.” Sturgell, 553
U.S. at 892. Issue preclusion bars relitigation of issues adjudicated in an earlier
proceeding if three requirements are met: (1) “the issue necessarily decided at the
previous proceeding is identical to the one which is sought to be relitigated;” (2) “the first
proceeding ended with a final judgment on the merits;” and (3) “the party against whom
collateral estoppel is asserted was a party or in privity with a party at the first
proceeding.” Reyn’s Pasta Bella, LLC v. Visa USA, Inc., 442 F.3d 741, 746 (9th Cir.
2006).
IV. DISCUSSION
The Labor Commissioner argues that the Court’s 2008 ruling has issue- and claim-
preclusive effect in this case, and accordingly her motion for judgment on the pleadings
should be granted. Even if Siegel’s claims are not barred, the Labor Commissioner
contends that she is entitled to judgment on the pleadings because Siegel’s void-for-
vagueness and dormant Commerce Clause claims fail on the merits. The Court addresses
these arguments in turn.
A. Void-for-Vagueness Challenge

First, the Labor Commissioner argues that Seigel’s void-for-vagueness claim raises
identical issues that were rejected on merits by this Court in 2008, and accordingly the
prior ruling is issue-preclusive. Second, she argues that the TAA is not
unconstitutionally vague as Siegel alleges because (1) it is clear who is subject to
regulation under the TAA, (2) it is clear what activity is regulated by the TAA, and (3)
and it is clear what the consequences are for violating the TAA. MJP at 7–16.
 
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

CIVIL MINUTES – GENERAL ‘O’ JS-6


Case No.  2:17-cv-07203-CAS(SSx) Date March 16, 2018
Title  RICK SIEGEL V. JULIE SU
 
1. Issue Preclusion Applies
Siegel is raising identical issues with respect to his void-for-vagueness claim that
this Court adjudicated and decided on the merits in 2008. In his current complaint, Siegel
alleges that the TAA is unconstitutionally vague because it is unclear “(1) who is being
subjected to the regulation, (2) what activity is being regulated, and (3) the consequences
for ignoring the limitations/prohibitions of the regulation.” Compl. ¶ 17. Siegel raised
identical issues in the 2008 proceeding. See RJN, Ex. A. at 4–8. These issues were
actually litigated and necessarily decided in the prior action, which resulted in a final
judgment on the merits when the Court dismissed Siegel’s FAC with prejudice. See
Hells Canyon Pres. Council v. U.S. Forest Serv., 403 F.3d 683, 686 (9th Cir. 2005)
(“[F]inal judgment on the merits” is synonymous with “dismissal with prejudice.”)
(internal quotation marks omitted). Accordingly, the Court’s 2008 ruling has preclusive
effect here. See Reyn’s Pasta Bella, LLC, 442 F.3d at 746.
Siegel does not dispute that he is seeking to re-litigate these issues. Instead,
relying on exceptions to the doctrine of issue preclusion outlined in the Restatement of
Judgments, Siegel contends that circumstances have changed since 2008, such that the
Court should not give issue-preclusive effect to its prior ruling.2 Opp’n at 16–17, 24–27.
First, Siegel argues that “[t]he fact that Buchwald is plainly inconsistent with . . . Wood,
Smith, Loving, Gatti, and Severance gives reason for re-litigation so the scheme’s
implementation will be fair and equitable.” Opp’n at 25. However, Buchwald v.
Superior Court In & For City & Cty. of San Francisco, 254 Cal. App. 2d 347 (1967) and
the other cases cited by Siegel were all decided decades before the 2008 lawsuit. Siegel
does not otherwise point to any change in state law with regard to the TAA. Second,
Siegel suggests that the Labor Commissioner has changed how it enforces the TAA since
2008. Id. at 25. However, the Court finds no indication that the Labor Commissioner has

                                                            
2
The Restatement provides that “relitigation of the issue in a subsequent action
between the parties is not precluded” under several circumstances, including where “[t]he
issue is one of law and (a) the two actions involve claims that are substantially unrelated,
or (b) a new determination is warranted in order to take account of an intervening change
in the applicable legal context or otherwise to avoid inequitable administration of the
laws” or “[t]here is a clear and convincing need for a new determination of the issue . . .
because it was not sufficiently foreseeable at the time of the initial action that the issue
would arise in the context of a subsequent action.” Restatement (Second) of Judgments §
28(2), (5) (1982).
 
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
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Title  RICK SIEGEL V. JULIE SU
 
changed its enforcement practices or its interpretation of the TAA since the prior action.3
None of the exceptions to issue preclusion identified by Siegel are applicable here.
Accordingly, his void-for-vagueness challenged is barred.
2. The TAA Is Not Unconstitutionally Vague
“A statute is impermissibly vague if it ‘fails to provide a reasonable opportunity to
know what conduct is prohibited, or is so indefinite as to allow arbitrary and
discriminatory enforcement.’ ” Arce v. Douglas, 793 F.3d 968, 988 (9th Cir. 2015)
(quoting United States v. Mincoff, 574 F.3d 1186, 1201 (9th Cir. 2009)). “Although
most often invoked in the context of criminal statutes, the prohibition on vagueness also
applies to civil statutes.” Dimaya v. Lynch, 803 F.3d 1110, 1113 (9th Cir. 2015), cert.
granted, 137 S. Ct. 31 (2016). However, the standard is less stringent in the civil context
because “consequences of imprecision are qualitatively less severe.” Hess v. Bd. of
Parole & Post-Prison Supervision, 514 F.3d 909, 914 (9th Cir. 2008) (quoting Village of
Hoffman Estates v. Flipside, Hoffman Estates, 455 U.S. 489, 498 (1982)). “Economic
regulation” is also “subject to ‘a less strict vagueness test’ than criminal laws.” Ass’n des
Eleveurs de Canards et d’Oies du Quebec v. Harris, 729 F.3d 937, 946 (9th Cir. 2013)
(quoting Hoffman, 455 U.S. at 498). Moreover, “[d]ue process does not require
‘impossible standards’ of clarity,” Arce, 793 F.3d at 988 (quoting Kolender v. Lawson,
461 U.S. 352, 361(1983)), or expect “perfect clarity and precise guidance.” Pickup v.
Brown, 740 F.3d 1208, 1233–34 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting Ward v. Rock Against Racism,
491 U.S. 781, 794 (1989)).
Siegel first argues that the TAA is unconstitutionally vague because an ordinary
person cannot ascertain whether it applies only to those who hold themselves out as talent
agents or rather anyone who engages in activities defined by the statute. Compl. ¶ 31.
However, TAA clearly states that a “talent agency” is “a person or corporation who
engages in the occupation of procuring, offering, promising, or attempting to procure
employment or engagements for an artist or artists.” Cal. Lab. Code § 1700.4(a). Thus,
the TAA “regulates conduct, not labels; it is the act of procuring (or soliciting), not the
title of one’s business, that qualifies one as a talent agency.” Marathon, 42 Cal. 4th at

                                                            
3
For the reasons explained in the Labor Commissioner’s reply brief, the Court is
not persuaded that the agency has changed its interpretation of the TAA based on Siegel’s
quotation from an appellate brief filed by the Labor Commissioner in Nat’l Conference of
Pers. Managers, Inc. v. Brown, 690 F.App’x 461 (9th Cir. 2017).
 
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
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Case No.  2:17-cv-07203-CAS(SSx) Date March 16, 2018
Title  RICK SIEGEL V. JULIE SU
 
986. The TAA “does not cover other services for which artists often contract, such as
personal and career management (i.e., advice, direction, coordination, and oversight with
respect to an artist’s career or personal or financial affairs).” Styne, 26 Cal. 4th at 51.
Accordingly, it is clear that “a personal manager who solicits or procures employment for
his artist-client is subject to and must abide by” the TAA. Marathon, 42 Cal. 4th at 986.
Second, Siegel argues that the TAA is unconstitutionally vague because it is not
clear what the terms “procuring . . . employment” mean. Compl. ¶¶ 36, 40–46. This
contention was specifically rejected by the California Court of Appeal in Wachs v. Curry,
13 Cal.App.4th 616 (1993), abrogated on other grounds in Marathon, 42 Cal.4th 974. In
that case, the court concluded that although the terms “procure” and “employment” are
not defined in the TAA, their plain meaning is readily understood by an ordinary person
and not “so lacking in objective content as to render the [TAA] facially unconstitutional.”
Wachs, 13 Cal.App.4th at 629. The approach in Wachs was adopted in a recent district
court decision, affirmed by the Ninth Circuit, which dismissed an identical void-for-
vagueness challenge to the TAA. See Nat’l Conference of Pers. Managers, Inc. v.
Brown, No. CV 12-09620 DDP (RZx), 2015 WL 4873541 (C.D. Cal. Aug. 13, 2015),
aff’d, 690 F.App’x 461 (9th Cir. 2017). The Court agrees with and adopts the reasoning
in these cases.
Finally, Siegel argues that the TAA is impermissibly vague because it does not
give notice of the penalty for engaging in prohibited conduct. Compl. ¶¶ 47–54.
Although the TAA does not define a penalty for engaging in unlicensed procurement of
employment for artists, the general rule under California law is that “where a statute
prohibits or penalizes certain conduct, the courts will infer a prohibition of contracts
based on such conduct.” R.M Sherman Co. v. W.R. Thomason, Inc., 191 Cal. App. 3d
559, 565 (1987); see generally 1 B.E. Witkin, Summary of California Law Contracts §§
432, 487 et seq. (11th ed. Oct. 2017 update). California courts have consistently applied
this rule in the TAA context for over 50 years. See Styne, 26 Cal. 4th at 45 (holding that
“an unlicensed person’s contract with an artist to provide the services of a talent agency
is illegal and void ab initio”); accord Marathon, 42 Cal. 4th at 992 n.11; see also Yoo v.
Robi, 126 Cal. App. 4th 1089, 1103 (2005) (“California courts have uniformly held a
contract [in violation of the TAA] is void ab initio.”); Waisbren v. Peppercorn Prods.,
Inc., 41 Cal. App. 4th 246, 261 (1995); Buchwald, 254 Cal. App. 2d at 351 (holding that
“a contract between an unlicensed unlicensed artists’ manager and an artist is void.”).
Although Siegel argues that Buchwald was wrongly decided, Opp’n at 2–3, this Court is
“constrained to defer to the highest state court on a matter of state law,” Styers v. Ryan,
811 F.3d 292, 298 (9th Cir. 2015), and the California Supreme Court has repeatedly held
 
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
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Case No.  2:17-cv-07203-CAS(SSx) Date March 16, 2018
Title  RICK SIEGEL V. JULIE SU
 
that a contract made in violation of the TAA is voidable, see Marathon, 42 Cal. 4th at 992
n.11; Styne, 26 Cal. 4th at 45.
Relatedly, Siegel argues that because the TAA does not impose penalties for
licensing violations, there is “no remedy” and the Labor Commissioner does not have
authority to void manager–artist contracts. See Opp’n at 20–23. Prior versions of the
TAA included criminal penalties, but the California Legislature eliminated these
sanctions in 1986 based on the recommendation of the California Entertainment
Commission. Marathon, 42 Cal. 4th at 985. The Commission recommended removing
the penalties in part because the existing remedy of contract voidness was deemed
sufficient. Waisbren, 41 Cal. App. 4th at 262. Accordingly, “the Legislature approved
the remedy of declaring agreements void if they violate the [TAA].” Id. at 262. Siegel’s
argument was specifically rejected in Waisbren, which held that “[n]othing in the case
law requires the existence of criminal penalties as a prerequisite to declaring an illegal
contract to be void.” Id. at 261. The California Supreme Court has also affirmed the
application of this rule to the TAA notwithstanding the absence of an explicit penalty
provision. Marathon, 42 Cal. 4th at 992 n.11 (quoting Styne, 26 Cal. 4th at 45). The
Court must defer to these decisions and therefore finds that Siegel’s contentions are
foreclosed by Marathon, Waisbren, and the general rule of contract voidness under
California law.
Accordingly, the Court’s prior determination that the TAA is not unconstitutionally
vague has issue-preclusive effect in this action. The Labor Commissioner has also
established that no material issue of fact remains to be resolved and that she is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law on Siegel’s void-for-vagueness challenge.4

                                                            
4
Siegel alleges that the TAA is impermissibly vague under the due process clauses
of both the federal Constitution (U.S. Const., Amend. XIV) and the California
Constitution (Cal. Const., art. I, § 7). See Compl. at 7–11. Because there is no
substantive difference between the applicable vagueness tests, see, e.g., People v.
Superior Court (Caswell), 46 Cal. 3d 381, 389 (1988), the Court finds that the Labor
Commissioner is entitled to judgment on the pleadings with respect to both the federal
and state void-for-vagueness claims.
 
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

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Case No.  2:17-cv-07203-CAS(SSx) Date March 16, 2018
Title  RICK SIEGEL V. JULIE SU
 
B. Dormant Commerce Clause Challenge
Although Siegel did not assert a dormant Commerce Clause claim in the 2008
proceeding, the Labor Commissioner argues that this claim is barred under principles of
claim preclusion.
1. Claim Preclusion Applies

Although Siegel’s challenge to the TAA based on the dormant Commerce Clause
was not asserted in the prior action, the Labor Commissioner argues that claim preclusion
applies because “[n]othing prevented Siegel from bringing this facial constitutional claim
in his 2008 litigation, which involved the same parties, a final judgment, and the same
factual basis—the TAA and the Labor Commissioner’s interpretations of the TAA.”
MJP at 16. In response, Siegel contends that the Labor Commissioner’s invocation of
claim preclusion is “meritless” because the “issue is new” and the “facts related to this
claim are also new.” Opp’n at 27.

Applying the elements of claim preclusion, the Court first finds there is an
“identity of claims” between Siegel’s prior constitutional challenge to the TAA and the
dormant Commerce Clause claim asserted in this action. Both arise from the “same
transactional nucleus of facts,” namely, Siegel’s ongoing efforts to challenge the
constitutionality of the TAA and thereby prevent the Labor Commissioner from
penalizing personal managers who are found to have procured employment for their
artist-clients. Siegel argues that the “issue was not ripe in the original suit as there was
no relevant interstate commerce.” Id. However, in both actions plaintiff has sought the
same relief: a declaratory judgment that the TAA is unconstitutional and a permanent
injunction prohibiting the Labor Commissioner from enforcing the law. Because Siegel’s
dormant Commerce Clause claim is a facial attack on the TAA’s constitutionality, it
clearly “could have been brought in the first action.” Turtle Island Restoration Network,
673 F.3d at 918. Accordingly, Siegel has forfeited the opportunity to bring his omitted
claim in this subsequent proceeding. See id. Second, as previously discussed, the
Court’s 2008 ruling constituted a final judgment on the merits. Finally, there is privity
between the parties because this action involves the same plaintiff suing the Labor
Commissioner in her official capacity. See McLellan v. Perry, 672 F.App’x 690, 691
(9th Cir. 2016) (“Litigation involving the government is generally binding with respect to
governmental officials who are sued in their official capacities in later actions.”)

 
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

CIVIL MINUTES – GENERAL ‘O’ JS-6


Case No.  2:17-cv-07203-CAS(SSx) Date March 16, 2018
Title  RICK SIEGEL V. JULIE SU
 
Accordingly, the Court finds that Siegel’s dormant Commerce Clause challenge is
barred under principles of claim preclusion.
2. The TAA Does Not Significantly Burden Interstate Commerce
Even assuming that claim preclusion does not apply, the Court finds that the Labor
Commissioner is entitled to judgment on the pleadings. The Commerce Clause “has long
been understood to have a ‘negative’ aspect that denies the States the power unjustifiably
to discriminate against or burden the interstate flow of articles of commerce.” Rocky
Mountain Farmers Union v. Corey, 730 F.3d 1070, 1087 (9th Cir. 2013). Courts
evaluating dormant Commerce Clause claims apply a two-step analysis. Brown-Forman
Distillers Corp. v. NY. State Liquor Auth., 476 U.S. 573, 578–79 (1986). First, “a state
statute [that] directly regulates or discriminates against interstate commerce” or “favor[s]
in-state economic interests over out-of-state interests” is generally invalid per se and
subject to strict scrutiny. Id. at 579. Second, if the law “regulates even-handedly to
effectuate a legitimate local public interest, and its effects on interstate commerce are
only incidental, it will be upheld unless the burden imposed on such commerce is clearly
excessive in relation to the putative local benefits.” Pike v. Bruce Church, Inc., 397 U.S.
137, 142 (1970).
Here, the Labor Commissioner has demonstrated that the TAA does not
discriminate against interstate commerce. Rather, on its face, the TAA acts
“evenhandedly,” with at most “incidental impacts on interstate trade.” Yakima Valley
Mem’l Hosp. v. Wash. State Dep’t of Health, 731 F.3d, 843, 846 (9th Cir. 2013). Siegel
argues that the TAA is “protectionist.” Opp’n at 28. However, talent agency licenses are
available on equal terms to both residents and nonresidents. See Nat’l Conference of
Pers. Managers, Inc., 2015 WL 4873541, at *7–8 (dismissing dormant Commerce Clause
claim because the TAA does not preclude out-of-state parties from becoming licensed
talent agencies in California), aff’d, 690 F.App’x 461 (9th Cir. 2017). The Labor
Commissioner has also demonstrated that the TAA does not operate extraterritorially
because only unlicensed personal managers with sufficient contacts in California are
subject to the Labor Commissioner’s jurisdiction. See MJP at 18–21. To the extent the
TAA regulates California residents, even if some aspects of the regulated activity occurs
outside California, such regulation is permissible because “a state may regulate
commercial relationships in which at least one party is located in California.” Chinatown
Neighborhood Ass’n v. Harris, 794 F.3d 1136, 1145 (9th Cir. 2015) (internal quotation
marks omitted). Conversely, to the extent that the TAA regulates out-of-state parties who
engage in prohibited activity within California, “even when state law has significant
 
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

CIVIL MINUTES – GENERAL ‘O’ JS-6


Case No.  2:17-cv-07203-CAS(SSx) Date March 16, 2018
Title  RICK SIEGEL V. JULIE SU
 
extraterritorial effects, it passes Commerce Clause muster when . . . those effects result
from the regulation of in-state conduct.” Id. at 1145 (citations omitted). Siegel has not
demonstrated that the TAA imposes any significant burden on interstate commerce and
accordingly “there cannot be a burden on interstate commerce that is ‘clearly excessive in
relation to the putative local benefits’ under Pike.” Nat’l Ass’n of Optometrists &
Opticians v. Harris, 682 F.3d 1144, 1155 (9th Cir. 2012); accord Chinatown
Neighborhood Ass’n, 794 F.3d at 1147 (because the law “does not impose a significant
burden on interstate commerce, it would be inappropriate” to engage in Pike balancing).
The Labor Commissioner is therefore entitled to judgment as matter of law.
Accordingly, the Court finds that its 2008 ruling has claim-preclusive effect in this
action. Siegel is therefore barred from asserting his dormant Commerce Clause claim,
which the Court nonetheless dismisses on the merits. The Labor Commissioner must
therefore be granted judgment on the pleadings.

V. CONCLUSION
In accordance with the foregoing, the Labor Commissioner’s motion for judgment
on the pleadings is GRANTED; and Siegel’s motion for summary judgment is DENIED.
Siegel’s complaint is hereby DISMISSED with prejudice.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
00 : 00
Initials of Preparer CMJ

 
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