Articles Posted in Class Action

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Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that they were employees of insurers and service companies jointly, and were entitled to but deprived of minimum wages, overtime, meal and rest breaks, reimbursement of expenses, and accurate wage statements. On remand, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's order denying certification and held that, under the analytic framework promulgated by Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court (2012) 53 Cal.4th 1004, and Duran v. U.S. Bank National Assn. (2014) 59 Cal.4th 1, the trial court acted within its discretion in denying certification. View "McCleery v. Allstate Insurance Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Class Action

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Employee Edwards filed a putative class action lawsuit against employer Heartland for wage and hour violations. Employees Torres and Martinez filed a separate, later putative class action lawsuit against Heartland for similar violations. After Edwards entered into a proposed class action settlement with Heartland and amended her complaint to encompass the claims asserted by Torres and Martinez, Torres and Martinez filed a motion to intervene in Edwards’ lawsuit. The trial court denied the motion. The court of appeal affirmed. The Torres plaintiffs were not entitled to mandatory intervention mandatory intervention under Code of Civil Procedure section 387(b): their ability to protect their interest would not be practically impaired or impeded by the settlement in Edwards because they could opt out of or object to the settlement. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying permissive intervention; they do not need to intervene to seek discovery; as objectors, they may seek discovery to ensure sufficient information has been provided to evaluate the fairness of the settlement. View "Edwards v. Heartland Payment Systems, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs were class representatives of current and former employees of defendant Pacific Bell Telephone Company who installed and repaired video and internet services in customers’ homes. They appealed a judgment in favor of defendant following cross-motions for summary judgment or summary judgment. Plaintiffs sought compensation for the time they spent traveling in an employer-provided vehicle--loaded with equipment and tools--between their homes and a customer’s residence (the worksite) under an optional and voluntary Home Dispatch Program. The trial court, like federal courts that have considered the question under California law, concluded the travel time was not compensable. The Court of Appeal agree and affirmed, finding: (1) the Home Dispatch Program was not compulsory; and (2) simply transporting tools and equipment during commute time was not compensable work where no effort or extra time is required to effectuate the transport. View "Hernandez v. Pacific Bell Telephone Co." on Justia Law

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The appeal presented to the Court of Appeal here was one in a certified wage and hour class action following a judgment after a bench trial in favor of defendants Certified Tire and Services Centers, Inc. (Certified Tire) and Barrett Business Services. Inc. (collectively, defendants). Plaintiffs contended Certified Tire violated the applicable minimum wage and rest period requirements by implementing a compensation program, which guaranteed its automotive technicians a specific hourly wage above the minimum wage for all hours worked during each pay period but also gave them the possibility of earning a higher hourly wage for all hours worked during each pay period based on certain productivity measures. The Court of Appeal concluded plaintiffs' arguments lacked merit, and accordingly affirmed the judgment. View "Certified Tire and Service Centers Wage and Hour Cases" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, home mortgage consultants, alleged they were misclassified as exempt employees by Wells Fargo. ILG, a law firm, represented approximately 600 Wells Fargo consultants alleging the same claim as the Lofton class in multiple lawsuits; the ILG suits were dismissed because the underlying claims were resolved in Lofton. In 2014, the court of appeal affirmed an order, requiring ILG to deposit into a court-supervised escrow account over $5 million of settlement proceeds ILG claimed as attorneys’ fees. ILG had concealed that settlement from the Lofton court and its class member clients. The TRO was predicated on an allegation that ILG’s clients were actually members of the class compensated by the $19 million “Lofton” settlement and that ILG was compensating itself out of the separate settlement without court approval. On remand, the trial court concluded ILG was not entitled to attorney’s fees. The monies on deposit with the court were directed to be paid to the class members who participated in the settlement. The court of appeal affirmed. Until the trial court did something about it, ILG had constructive possession of the entire $6 million settlement and control over its disbursement. ILG received due process. Nothing in this record demonstrates that ILG’s services in securing $750 for each of its 600 clients and facilitating their participation in Lofton were worth the $5.5 million it claimed in attorneys’ fees. View "Lofton v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's order denying class certification in this putative class action alleging wage and hour violations against defendants. The court held that substantial evidence supported the trial court's conclusion that individual questions would predominate in determining which class members actually have a claim for missed rest breaks. The court also held that the trial court acted within its discretion in finding plaintiff was not an adequate class representative, and in denying leave to substitute another representative in light of the age of the case and the futility of doing so. View "Payton v. CSI Electrical Contractors" on Justia Law

Posted in: Class Action

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Retired employees of the University of California Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory claim that during their employment the University promised to provide them with University-sponsored group health insurance in their retirement, and this promise constituted an implied contract term that the University subsequently impaired. Those who retired before 2007 initially received University-sponsored group health insurance after their retirement, funded by the federal government as part of the University’s contract. In 2007, the federal government transferred the management and operation of Livermore to a private entity, LLNS, which transferred the retirees’ coverage to the LLNS plan. The retirees claimed the LLNS health plan “has significant disadvantages and no comparable new advantages, when compared with the University-provided retiree medical benefit plan,” After initially certifying a class of retirees, the trial court decertified the class. The court of appeal reversed. The trial court erroneously assumed that each class member must prove their personal awareness of the offered retiree health benefits and that economic damages are a necessary element to an impairment claim. Retirees’ theory is that their loss of an entitlement to health insurance—since LLNS insurance can be terminated at any time—constitutes substantial impairment and this issue presents a common issue. View "Moen v. The Regents of the University of California" on Justia Law

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