California Courts Issue Multiple Decisions for Employers in Class Cases

by BakerHostetler
Contact

Just two years ago, a California case declining certification of an action would have been cause for comment. But since then, in 2011 the United States Supreme Court decided Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 131 S. Ct. 2541 (2011); in 2012 the California Supreme Court decided Brinker Rest. Corp. v. Superior Court, 53 Cal. 4th 1004 (2012); and only weeks ago the United States Supreme Court decided Comcast Corp. v. Behrend, 133 S. Ct. 1426 (2013). We’ll save for another blog the effect of the Supreme Court’s decisions on arbitration in California. Since the beginning of this year, several California courts have refused to certify cases or have even decertified cases that had previously been certified.  Just some of these cases include:

Forrand v. Federal Express Corp., Case No. 2:08-cv-01360-DSF-PJW (C.D. Cal., Apr. 25, 2013). Citing Comcast, the Central District of California declined to certify a class of hourly workers in an off-the-clock case claiming violations of California law. The case had previously been remanded by the Ninth Circuit on the certification issue to consider the question of employer control. The district court concluded that the plaintiffs could not meet Comcast’s requirement that they both develop a method to measure damages AND tie each class member’s recovery to that theory in a reliable manner that could be managed on a class-wide basis.

Zulewski v. The Hershey Company, Case No. 4:11-cv-05117-KAW (N.D. Cal., Apr. 23, 2013). In Zulewski, the plaintiffs brought suit on behalf of a proposed class of retail service representatives who claimed that they were misclassified as exempt under state and federal law. The court granted the defendant’s motion to deny certification brought under the rubric of Vinole v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 571 F.3d 935 (9th Cir. 2009).  Interestingly (in light of the issue of commonality addressed in Dukes), although the court found that their claims met the commonality and typicality requirements, they could not maintain their claims as a class because they could not meet the predominance standard of Rule 23(b)(3).

Alberts v. Aurora Behavioral Health Care, Case No. BC419340 (Los Angeles Sup. Ct., Apr. 10, 2013). The Los Angeles Superior Court denied certification of a class of health care workers at two area psychiatric hospitals claiming violation of California’s rest and meal period requirements due to factual variations among their claims.

Dailey v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., Case No. D061055 (Cal. Ct. App., 4th Dist., Mar. 21, 2013). The California 4th District Court of Appeals upheld the denial of certification in a class action challenging the exempt status of Sears Auto Center managers and assistant managers, finding that individual issues predominated.

Heffelfinger v. Electronic Data Services, Case No. 2-07-cv-00101-MMM-E (C.D. Cal Feb. 26, 2013). In a case with important ramifications in the technology industry, the Central District of California decertified a case it had previously certified following the remand of the action from the Ninth Circuit on its grant of summary judgment. The district court concluded that the reverse of summary judgment necessitated individual inquiries, negating the element of predominance.

Pedroza v. PetSmart Inc., Case No. 5:11-CV-00298 (C.D. Cal. Jan. 28, 2013). Pedroza was a garden-variety California wage and hour case in which the plaintiffs claimed that the PetSmart retail chain misclassified its store managers as exempt under California law. Such claims were once routinely brought and almost as routinely certified. The district court, relying on Dukes, found that commonality did not exist due to differences among the different managers’ situations and also found Rule 23(b)(3) predominance to be lacking.

Can California employers break out the champagne? Hardly. First, while the latest spate of cases has largely favored employers, courts are still ruling for employees under the right circumstances. Just a few days ago, in Faulkinbury v. Boyd & Associates, Inc., Case No. G041712 (Cal. 4th App., May 10, 2013), a California court of appeals largely reconsidered its own order affirming the trial court’s decision not to certify a meal period class and held that, under the circumstances, certification should have been granted. Second, some plaintiffs’ attorneys are exploring the use of conditional certification under the FLSA to take advantage of the easier “conditional certification standard.” Most ominously, as reflected in the PetSmart case, there exists a conflict among California district courts as to whether a plaintiff must satisfy Rule 23 for claims under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). Certification is no longer a largely foregone conclusion, but cannot be dismissed out of hand either. Due to the large sums of money involved, we can expect to continue to see developments in this arena in the years to come.

The bottom line: The tide may have turned on the easy certification of employment class action cases under California law, but don’t count them out yet.

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© BakerHostetler | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

BakerHostetler
Contact
more
less

BakerHostetler on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.