Articles Posted in Class Action

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Plaintiffs and appellants Eugene G. Plantier, as Trustee of the Plantier Family Trust (Plantier); Progressive Properties Incorporated (Progressive); and Premium Development LLC (Premium), on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated (collectively plaintiffs), appeal the judgment in favor of defendant and respondent Ramona Municipal Water District (District or RMWD). On appeal, plaintiffs contend the trial court erred when it found there was a mandatory exhaustion requirement in section 6 of article XIII D. Plaintiffs further contended they satisfied the administrative remedy in the Ramona Municipal Water District Legislative Code, and that, in any event, the exhaustion doctrine in section 6 should not have been applied to them because the remedy therein was inadequate and because it was "futile" to purse any administrative remedy under this constitutional provision. The Court of Appeal concluded plaintiffs' class action was not barred by their failure to exhaust the administrative remedies set forth in section 6 because plaintiffs' substantive challenge involving the method used by District to calculate its wastewater service fees or charges was outside the scope of the administrative remedies, and because, under the facts of this case, those remedies were, in any event, inadequate. View "Plantier v. Ramona Municipal Water Dist." on Justia Law

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In consolidated class actions, plaintiffs claimed the brokers who represented them in the sale of their homes and a group of companies that provided services in connection with those sales violated their fiduciary duties by failing to disclose alleged kickbacks paid by the service providers to the brokers in connection with the sales. Defendants filed motions to compel arbitration on the basis of three separate agreements, at least one of which was executed by each plaintiff. The trial court found the arbitration clauses in two of the agreements inapplicable, but compelled the signatories of the third agreement to arbitrate with their brokers. Invoking the doctrine of equitable estoppel, the court also required the signatories of the third agreement to arbitrate their claims against the service providers, who were not parties to the arbitration agreements. The court of appeals reversed with respect to the two arbitration clauses the lower court found inapplicable. Each of the plaintiffs executed one or the other of these two agreements. The court dismissed the cross-appeal of the plaintiffs who were required to arbitrate because an order compelling arbitration is not appealable. View "Laymon v. J. Rockcliff, Inc." on Justia Law

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AMR provides ambulance services in more than 15 California counties, employing dispatchers, call takers, drivers, emergency medical technicians (EMT’s), paramedics and nurses. Plaintiffs, four current or former employees, claimed that AMR failed to provide the meal and rest periods to which they were entitled under Labor Code sections 226.7 and 512 and the applicable wage orders issued by the California Industrial Welfare Commission. They alleged a class claim under the Labor Code; a class claim under Business and Professions Code section 17200, the Unfair Competition Law; and a claim for civil penalties under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA), a representative action not subject to class action requirements. The court of appeal reversed the trial court’s denial of class certification as based on an incorrect legal assumption about the nature of rest periods: that a rest period during which an employee remains on call may be considered an off-duty rest period. The court acknowledged that there may be other bases on which the trial court may conclude on remand that plaintiffs have not shown the predominance of common issues required for class certification of their overarching rest period claim. View "Bartoni v. American Medical Response West" on Justia Law

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Three health care workers sued their hospital employer in a putative class and private attorney general enforcement action for alleged Labor Code violations and related claims. In this appeal, their primary complaint was the hospital illegally allowed its health care employees to waive their second meal periods on shifts longer than 12 hours. A statute required two meal periods for shifts longer than 12 hours. But an order of the Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) authorized employees in the health care industry to waive one of those two required meal periods on shifts longer than 8 hours. The issue this case presented for the Court of Appeal’s review centered on the validity of the IWC order. In its first opinion in this case, the Court concluded the IWC order was partially invalid to the extent it authorized second meal break waivers on shifts over 12 hours, and the Court reversed. After the California Supreme Court granted the hospital’s petition for review in “Gerard I,” that court transferred the case back to the Court of Appeal with directions to vacate the decision and to reconsider the cause in light of the enactment of Statutes 2015, chapter 506 (Sen. Bill No. 327 (2015-2016 Reg. Sess.); SB 327). Upon reconsideration the Court of Appeal concluded the IWC order was valid and affirmed. View "Gerard v. Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center" on Justia Law

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The City settled a class action suit in 2012, Chakhalyan v. City of Los Angeles, alleging that the City had an unlawful practice of charging a trash disposal fee to customers living in multi-unit dwellings who received no trash disposal services from the City. Another class action asserted similar allegations, Cunningham v. City of Los Angeles. Brian Cunningham, did not opt out of the Chakhalyan class or exclude himself from the settlement. After finalization and settlement in Chakhalyan, the City successfully moved for summary judgment of Cunningham's claims, but permitted Cunningham to amend the complaint to add two additional named plaintiffs. The trial court agreed with the City that these plaintiffs' claims were now moot and granted summary judgment for the City. The court affirmed, concluding that plaintiffs' individual claims were moot because a court could grant them no further relief beyond what they have already received; unlike other cases in which the "pick off" exception has been applied, here, the injunctive relief provisions in the Chakhalyan stipulated settlement and judgment required the City to reimburse plaintiffs and other putative class members; the City complied with this obligation before plaintiffs filed the second amended complaint naming them as parties; and, under these particular circumstances, the "pick off" exception does not apply. View "Schoshinksi v. City of Los Angeles" on Justia Law

Posted in: Class Action

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In 2009, Pamela Silva filed an action against her former employer, See's Candy Shops, Inc., alleging wage and hour violations. Silva brought the action in her individual capacity, on behalf of a class of See's Candy employees, and on behalf of aggrieved workers under the Private Attorney General Act of 2004 (PAGA). The trial court certified a class on Silva's claims challenging two of See's Candy's policies pertaining to the calculation of employee work time: (1) a rounding policy, which calculated timeclock punches to the nearest tenth of an hour; and (2) a grace-period policy, which permitted employees to clock in 10 minutes before and after a shift, but calculated work time from the employee's scheduled start/end times. In a prior appeal, the Court of appeal granted See's Candy's writ petition challenging the trial court's dismissal of See's Candy's affirmative defense that its rounding policy was lawful. After remand, See's Candy successfully moved for summary judgment on Silva's PAGA cause of action. In a later proceeding, the trial court granted summary judgment in See's Candy's favor on all of Silva's remaining claims. In this appeal, Silva challenged the summary judgment order on her PAGA claim and the summary judgment on all remaining causes of action. After review, the Court of Appeal determined the trial court erred in granting summary judgment with respect to certain of Silva's individual claims, but the court properly entered judgment in See's Candy's favor on all remaining claims, including the PAGA cause of action and the class-certified claims. View "Silva v. See's Candy Shops" on Justia Law

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Defendant-appellant Ross Stores, Inc. (Ross) appealed the denial of its motion to compel arbitration. Plaintiff-respondent Martina Hernandez was employed at a Ross warehouse in Moreno Valley, and filed a single-count representative action under the California Private Attorney General Act (PAGA), alleging Ross had violated numerous Labor Code laws, and sought to recover PAGA civil penalties for the violations. Ross insisted that Hernandez had to first arbitrate her individual disputes showing she was an "aggrieved party" under PAGA and then the PAGA action could proceed in court. The trial court found, that the PAGA claim was a representative action brought on behalf of the state and did not include individual claims. As such, it denied the motion to compel arbitration because there were no individual claims or disputes between Ross and Hernandez that could be separately arbitrated. On appeal, Ross raised the issue of whether under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), an employer and employee had the preemptive right to agree to individually arbitrate discreet disputes underlying a PAGA claim while leaving the PAGA claim and PAGA remedies to be collectively litigated under "Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles LLC," (59 Cal.4th 348 (2014)). The Court of Appeal upheld the trial court's denial of the motion to compel arbitration. View "Hernandez v. Ross Stores" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit on behalf of themselves and similarly situated persons, alleging that Wackenhut violated California labor laws by failing to provide employees with off-duty meal and rest breaks and by providing inadequate wage statements. The trial court initially granted plaintiffs’ motion for class certification. Then the United States Supreme Court reversed a grant of certification in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes. Wackenhut, relying on Wal-Mart, moved for decertification, which the trial court granted. Plaintiffs appealed, contending that decertification was not warranted by a change in circumstances or case law and that the trial court used improper criteria in granting the motion for decertification. The court concluded that the trial court’s reliance on Wal-Mart to support decertification for each of plaintiffs’ claims overextended holdings in that case. In this case, the crux of Wackenhut's motion for decertification and the trial court’s subsequent order was Wal-Mart’s treatment of statistical sampling. The trial court determined that this method was disapproved in Wal-Mart. After the trial court issued its decertification order, the Supreme Court clarified in Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo that Wal-Mart does not prohibit the broad use of statistical sampling in class action lawsuits. Here, statistical evidence was proposed only for the limited purpose of determining how many employees had signed on-duty meal agreements lacking revocation language during the class period. The trial court also misapplied Wal-Mart by finding that individualized inquiries were necessary. The distinctive nature of Title VII liability also distinguishes Wal-Mart from the facts of this case. The court reversed the order and remanded as to off-duty meal break, rest brake, and wage statement issues, and for further proceedings. View "Lubin v. Wackenhut Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Class Action

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Tanguilig, a Bloomingdale’s employee, filed a representative action on behalf of herself and fellow employees pursuant to the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) (Lab. Code 2698), alleging several Labor Code violations by the company. The trial court denied a motion by Bloomingdale’s to compel arbitration of Tanguilig’s “individual PAGA claim” and stay or dismiss the remainder of the complaint. The court of appeal affirmed. Under California Supreme Court precedent and consistent with the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) (9 U.S.C. 1), a PAGA representative claim is nonwaivable by a plaintiff-employee by means a predispute arbitration agreement with an employer. A PAGA claim (whether individual or representative) acts as a proxy for the state, with the state’s acquiescence, and seeks civil penalties largely payable to the state; such a plaintiff cannot be ordered to arbitration without the state’s consent. View "Tanguilig v. Bloomingdale's, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs in this putative class action case, Stacey and Tyler Walker, appealed the trial court's order disqualifying their counsel, Hogue & Belong (the Firm), in this putative class action suit against their former employer, Apple, Inc. The trial court found automatic disqualification was required on the basis the Firm had a conflict of interest arising from its concurrent representation of the putative class in this case and the certified class in another wage-and-hour class action pending against Apple. Specifically, based on the parties' litigation strategies and evidence Apple submitted in support of its disqualification motion, the trial court concluded that to advance the interests of its clients in this case, the Firm would need to cross-examine a client in the Felczer class (the Walkers' store manager) in a manner adverse to that client. After review of plaintiffs' arguments on appeal, the Court of Appeals concluded that the trial court did not err in finding the Firm represented the store manager and that a disqualifying conflict existed between her interests and the Walkers' interests. View "Walker v. Apple, Inc." on Justia Law