Articles Posted in Class Action

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Certain limited liability companies (LLCs) paid a levy under Revenue and Taxation Code section 17942, which was later determined by the court of appeal to be unconstitutional. After two separate actions seeking class treatment for the payment of refund claims were coordinated, the trial court rejected a jurisdictional argument from the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) that the LLCs had failed to adequately exhaust their administrative remedies as a class and could not proceed on a classwide basis. The court, however, went on to deny the motion for class certification on multiple other grounds, including lack of ascertainability, numerosity, predominance, and superiority. The court of appeal reversed. The court agreed with the trial court’s exhaustion determination but concluded that its class certification analysis was fundamentally flawed. The court deemed the matter “eminently suitable for treatment on a classwide basis.” There is no bar to certification of a class action for refund of unconstitutional taxes so long as all class members have filed their own individual claims and thereby exhausted their administrative remedies; no purpose would be served by erecting a jurisdictional barrier to class treatment of those claims on the formalistic ground that no class claim for refund was filed. View "Franchise Tax Board Limited Liability Corp. Tax Refund Cases" on Justia Law

Posted in: Class Action, Tax Law

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Plaintiff Stephen Bushansky filed a shareholder derivative action on behalf of nominal defendant NantKwest, Inc. Based on a forum selection provision contained in NantKwest's certificate of incorporation, Delaware was designated as the forum for shareholder derivative actions, the trial court dismissed Bushansky's suit. Bushansky argued on appeal that the forum selection provision was never triggered since a condition precedent to its operation was never met: Delaware courts had personal jurisdiction over all indispensable parties named as defendants, and since Delaware courts lacked jurisdiction over one of the defendants at the time the action was filed in California, the condition was not met and, thus, the forum selection provision was not triggered. The California Court of Appeal found the provision, however, did not specify that personal jurisdiction had to be determined as of the date an action is filed and no later. "In fact, it is silent as to when personal jurisdiction in Delaware must exist. Faced with that silence, we - in accord with a well-established principle of contract law - presume that the parties intended a reasonable timeframe for the condition to be fulfilled." The Court found dismissal based on the forum selection clause was proper. View "Bushansky v. Soon-Shiong" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Yvonne Reid and Serena Wong sued defendants the City of San Diego (City) and the San Diego Tourism Marketing District (TMD) in a putative class action complaint, challenging what they allege is "an illegal hotel tax." The trial court sustained Defendants' demurrer without leave to amend on statute of limitations and other grounds. The Court of Appeal affirmed, concluding some of the causes of action were time-barred and the remainder failed to state facts constituting a cause of action. View "Reid v. City of San Diego" on Justia Law

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Huff worked for Securitas, which hires employees to work as security guards, and contracts with clients to provide guards for a particular location. Securitas typically provides long-term placements. After Huff resigned, he sued Securitas, alleging a representative cause of action under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA, Lab. Code, 2698) and citing Labor Code sections 201 [requiring immediate payment of wages upon termination of employment]; 201.3(b) [requiring temporary services employers to pay wages weekly]; 202 [requiring payment of wages within 72 hours of resignation]; and 204 [failure to pay all wages due for work performed in a pay period]. The trial court held that Huff was not a temporary services employee under section 201.3(b)(1), and, therefore, could not show he was affected by a violation and had no standing to pursue penalties under PAGA on behalf of others. The court of appeal affirmed the subsequent grant of a new trial. Under PAGA an “aggrieved employee” can pursue penalties for Labor Code violations on behalf of others; the statute defines an aggrieved employee as having suffered “one or more of the alleged violations” of the Labor Code for which penalties are sought. Since Huff’s complaint alleged that another violation of the Labor Code (separate from the weekly pay requirement) affected him personally, the failure to establish a violation of the weekly pay requirement did not preclude his entire PAGA claim. View "Huff v. Securitas Security Services USA, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Jorge Fierro filed a class action suit against defendant Landry's Restaurant Inc., seeking remedies for what Fierro alleged to be Landry's' violations of specified California labor laws and wage orders. Landry's demurred to the complaint on the basis that each of the causes of action was barred by the applicable statute of limitations. As to Fierro's individual claims, the trial court overruled the demurrer, concluding that the statute of limitations defense did not appear affirmatively on the face of the complaint. As to the class claims, the trial court sustained the demurrer without leave to amend on the basis that a prior class action with identical class claims against Landry's had been dismissed for failure to bring the case to trial in five years as required by Code of Civil Procedure sections 583.310 and 583.360. Under the "death knell" doctrine, Fierro appealed that portion of the order sustaining without leave to amend the demurrer to the class claims. The Court of Appeals determined the trial court erred. From the record presented, the Court could not determine the basis of the dismissal of the prior action; and, in any event, because the dismissal of the prior action was not final for purposes of res judicata or collateral estoppel, it could not form the basis of a defense to the class claims in this action. Furthermore, because the Court agreed with the trial court that the statute of limitations defense did not appear affirmatively on the face of the complaint, there was no alternative basis on which to affirm the dismissal of the class claims. Accordingly, the Court reversed and remanded this matter with instructions to enter an order overruling Landry's' demurrer in its entirety. View "Fierro v. Landry's Restaurant Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Jorge Fierro filed a class action suit against defendant Landry's Restaurant Inc., seeking remedies for what Fierro alleged to be Landry's' violations of specified California labor laws and wage orders. Landry's demurred to the complaint on the basis that each of the causes of action was barred by the applicable statute of limitations. As to Fierro's individual claims, the trial court overruled the demurrer, concluding that the statute of limitations defense did not appear affirmatively on the face of the complaint. As to the class claims, the trial court sustained the demurrer without leave to amend on the basis that a prior class action with identical class claims against Landry's had been dismissed for failure to bring the case to trial in five years as required by Code of Civil Procedure sections 583.310 and 583.360. Under the "death knell" doctrine, Fierro appealed that portion of the order sustaining without leave to amend the demurrer to the class claims. The Court of Appeals determined the trial court erred. From the record presented, the Court could not determine the basis of the dismissal of the prior action; and, in any event, because the dismissal of the prior action was not final for purposes of res judicata or collateral estoppel, it could not form the basis of a defense to the class claims in this action. Furthermore, because the Court agreed with the trial court that the statute of limitations defense did not appear affirmatively on the face of the complaint, there was no alternative basis on which to affirm the dismissal of the class claims. Accordingly, the Court reversed and remanded this matter with instructions to enter an order overruling Landry's' demurrer in its entirety. View "Fierro v. Landry's Restaurant Inc." on Justia Law

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The Castillos were employed and paid by GCA, a temporary staffing company, to perform work on-site at Glenair. Glenair was authorized to and did record, review, and report the Castillos’ time records to GCA so that the Castillos could be paid. In a wage and hours putative class action, the Castillos characterized GCA and Glenair as joint employers. While their case was pending, a separate class action brought against, among others, GCA resulted in a final, court-approved settlement agreement, “Gomez,” which contains a broad release barring settlement class members from asserting wage and hour claims such as those alleged by the Castillos against GCA and its agents. The Castillos are members of the Gomez settlement class and did not opt out of that settlement. The Castillos claims against Glenair involve the same wage and hour claims, for the same work done, covering the same time period as the claims asserted in Gomez. The court of appeal affirmed summary judgment rejecting the Castillo suit. Because Glenair is in privity with GCA (a defendant in Gomez) and is an agent of GCA, the Gomez settlement bars the Castillos’ claims against Glenair as a matter of law. View "Castillo v. Glenair, Inc." on Justia Law

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In July 2007, NMG, a luxury fashion retailer, notified its employees that acceptance of the NMG Arbitration Agreement was a mandatory condition of employment which would be implied for all employees who continued to work at NMG beyond July 15, 2007. Tanguilig unsuccessfully tried to negotiate its terms. Tanguilig chose not to return to work after July 15, and sued alleging, among other things: wrongful termination in violation of public policy; wrongful retaliation; wrongfully requiring employees to agree to allegedly illegal terms, failure to provide 10-minute rest periods and 30-minute meal periods and to pay overtime wages and minimum wage in violation of the Labor Code; and failure to pay wages owed at the time of discharge. Early in the proceedings, the court dismissed Tanguilig’s wrongful termination and related claims. Several years later, it dismissed the remaining claims under California’s five-year dismissal statute, Code of Civil Procedure 583.310. The court of appeal affirmed, rejecting Tanguilig’s argument that the trial court erred in failing to toll the five-year clock under section 583.340(c), for the period during which an order compelling a co-plaintiff to arbitration was in effect. Tanguilig made no factual showing that she could not have brought her claims to trial while that order was in effect View "Tanguilig v. Neiman Marcus Group, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Tony Muro entered into an employment contract with defendant Cornerstone Staffing Solutions, Inc. (Cornerstone). The contract included a provision requiring that all disputes arising out of Muro's employment with Cornerstone to be resolved by arbitration. It also incorporated a class action waiver provision. In response to this case, which was styled as a proposed class action and alleged various Labor Code violations, Cornerstone moved to compel arbitration and dismiss the class claims. Relying heavily on Garrido v. Air Liquide Industrial, U.S. LP, 241 Cal.App.4th 833 (2015), the trial court concluded the contract was exempted from the operation of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA; 9 U.S.C. 1 et seq.) and was instead governed by California law. It further determined that the California Supreme Court's decision in Gentry v. Superior Court, 42 Cal.4th 443 (2007) (overruled by 59 Cal.4th 348(2014)) continued to provide the relevant framework for evaluating whether the class waiver provision in the contract was enforceable under California law. After applying Gentry to the record here, the court found the class waiver provision of the contract unenforceable and denied the motion to compel arbitration. Cornerstone appeals, but finding no error, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "Muro v. Cornerstone Staffing Solutions" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Apple, Inc. (Apple) is the defendant in a putative class action filed by plaintiffs and real parties in interest Anthony Shamrell and Daryl Rysdyk. In their operative complaint, plaintiffs alleged that Apple's iPhone 4, 4S, and 5 smartphones were sold with a defective power button that began to work intermittently or fail entirely during the life of the phones. Plaintiffs alleged Apple knew of the power button defects based on prerelease testing and postrelease field failure analyses, yet Apple began selling the phones and continued to sell the phones notwithstanding the defect. The trial court granted plaintiffs' motion for class certification but expressly refused to apply Sargon Enterprises, Inc. v. University of Southern California, 55 Cal.4th 747 (2012) to the declarations submitted by plaintiffs' experts. The trial court believed it was not required to assess the soundness of the experts' materials and methodologies at this stage of the litigation. The Court of Appeals determined that belief was in error, and a prejudicial error. “Sargon applies to expert opinion evidence submitted in connection with a motion for class certification. A trial court may consider only admissible expert opinion evidence on class certification, and there is only one standard for admissibility of expert opinion evidence in California. Sargon describes that standard.” The Court of Appeal directed the trial court to vacate its order granting plaintiffs' motion for class certification and reconsider the motion under the governing legal standards, including Sargon. View "Apple Inc. v. Superior Court" on Justia Law