CALIFORNIA CLASS ACTION LAW

Tag: Legal Information

Eastern District Denies First to File Transfer of Class Action

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The United States District Court for the Eastern District of California denied defendant employer’s motion to transfer pursuant to the “first-to file” rule.  Wilkie v. Gentiva Health Services, Inc., Civ. No. 10-1451 FCD/GGH, 2010 WL 3703060 (E.D. Cal. Sept. 16, 2010) (slip op.).  Plaintiff filed a putative nation-and California-wide class action/collective action against plaintiff’s former employer Gentiva for alleged violations of the Federal Labor and Standards Act (“FLSA”) and the California Labor Code § 201 et seq. for: (1) misclassification as exempt from overtime pay and failure to pay overtime; (2) willful failure to pay wages due within the time specified by the Code; (3) violation of California Wage Order No. 4 for knowingly and intentionally failing to provide timely, accurate, itemized wage statements including request for an injunction and damages; (4) failure to give proper rest and meal breaks; and (5) violation of California’s Business & Professions Code § 17200 et seq.  Id. *1

A prior FLSA collective action and New York and North Carolina state law class action against Gentiva was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, entitled Rindfleisch, et al. v. Gentiva Health Services, Inc., No. CV10-2111 (E.D.N.Y.) (“Rindfleisch”). Defendant moved to transfer plaintiff’s complaint under the “first-to-file rule,” on the ground plaintiff’s claims are the subject of the Rindfleisch action. Plaintiff opposed the motion, arguing the parties and claims are not substantially similar in the two actions and other equitable factors militate against transfer under the first-to-file rule.  Id. The court denied Gentiva’s motion.  Id. Read the rest of this entry »

Second District Reverses Judgment in a Class Action of $99,000 and Attorneys Fees of $881,715

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The Second District reversed a trial court’s judgment in favor of employees in a class action trial.  Pearline Zalewa v. Tempo Research Corporation, B210429, 2010 WL 3735240 (Cal. Ct. App. 2d Dist. Sept. 27, 2010).  Defendant  fiber-optic equipment manufacturer was sued in a class action by its former employees who claimed that the manufacturer breached an obligation to pay them annual bonuses, an obligation that allegedly continued for years after they were laid off from work during a business downturn.  Id. The court concluded that the employees are not entitled to any recovery: “All but two of the employees relinquished their right to sue when they were laid off, in return for compensation that exceeded their earned severance pay. In any event, there was no promise made to pay bonuses to the employees after they were laid off.”  Id.

The Trial Court’s Judgment

The trial court conducted a bench trial in January 2008, finding that plaintiffs were entitled to recover a direct bonus under theories of breach of contract, promissory estoppel, accounting, and unfair business practices. Id. The court deemed the bonus payments to be “wages” under the Labor Code. Id. And because the bonus payments are wages, plaintiffs were awarded prejudgment interest and attorney fees under the Labor Code. Id. The court enumerated the amount of the award for each employee, less offsets for monies already paid by defendants, plus interest. Id. The total amount of the award, including interest, was approximately $99,000, and plaintiffs’ counsel was awarded attorney fees of $881,715.  Id. Read the rest of this entry »

Northern District Denies Motion to Compel Arbitration Where Plaintiffs Sought Only Injunctive Relief Under Unfair Competition Law

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The United States District Court for the Northern District of California denied a motion to compel arbitration where plaintiffs sought only injunctive relief under the California Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”).  Cardenas v. Americredit Financial Services Inc., No. C 09-04978 SBA, 2010 WL 3619851 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 13, 2010).

Plaintiffs allege that Defendant AmeriCredit Financial Services, Inc. (“AmeriCredit”), failed to provide Mr. Cardenas with proper notice of his rights in connection with the financing of his car, ostensibly in violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”), California Business and Professions Code § 17200.  Id. *1.  After plaintiff defaulted on his payments, AmeriCredit repossessed Cardenas’ vehicle. Id. *3. The vehicle was subsequently sold and on thereafter, AmeriCredit informed Cardenas that his car had been sold for $12,000, but that he still owed them a deficiency balance of $12,733.85 (i.e., the amount owed on his loan less the amount recovered from the sale of the car). Id. Mr. Cardenas paid only part of the deficiency balance, and AmeriCredit later reported Cardenas’ deficiency to credit bureaus. Id. Read the rest of this entry »

Central District Orders Pre-Certification Disclosure of Name and Contact Information for Putative Class Members, Finding that Such Disclosure Was “Common Practice” in Class Actions

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The Central District granted plaintiff’s motion to compel disclosure of the name and contact information (full name, last known addresses and telephone numbers) for class members of a putative class action for unpaid commission wages.  Celia Alvarez, et al. v. The Hyatt Regency Long Beach, et al., CV 09-04791-GAF (VBKx).  According to the court, the class was defined as all non-exempt employees for the period commencing May 7, 2005.  (Thank you to Radhika Sainath for alerting me to the decision.)

Defendants contended that the information was not relevant for class certification and invaded the privacy rights of the putative class.  Plaintiffs offered to enter into a protective order and offer that the information be given to a third party who would send the class members an opt-out letter.  Defendant rejected these proposal. Read the rest of this entry »

Northern District Holds That No Aiding and Abetting Liability Exists Under UCL

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The Northern District of California granted a motion to strike aiding and abetting allegations from a class action complaint.  Toy v. Triwire Engineering Solutions, Inc.,  No. C 10-1929 SI, 2010 WL 3448535 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 1, 2010) (slip op.).

Background

Plaintiff Jason Toy filed a putative class action in state court against defendants TriWire Engineering Solutions, Inc., Comcast Corporation, and Comcast Cable Communications Management LLC, alleging that TriWire and Comcast employed Toy as a cable technician to install, disconnect, and upgrade cable television and computer services for consumers throughout California.  Id. *1.  Plaintiff contended he was not exempt from overtime requirements, and was not paid overtime in accordance with the law. Id. Read the rest of this entry »

Ninth Circuit Holds That “Crux of Complaint” Rule Allows Courts to Decide Arbitrability Even Where Plaintiff Fails to Raise Challenge to Arbitrability as a Distinct Claim in Complaint

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The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals considered whether the “crux of the complaint” rule requires the question of arbitrability to be determined by the arbitrator when a plaintiff’s challenge to the arbitration clause does not appear in his complaint.  Bridge Fund Capital Corporation v. Fastbucks Franchise Corporation, No. 08-17071, 2010 WL 3584060 (9th Cir. Sept. 16, 2010).  The court held that “as long as the plaintiff’s challenge to the validity of an arbitration clause is a distinct question from the validity of the contract as a whole, the question of arbitrability is for the court to decide regardless of whether the specific challenge to the arbitration clause is raised as a distinct claim in the complaint.”  Id. *1. Read the rest of this entry »

Northern District Grants Pre-certification Class Discovery

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The Northern District granted a putative class representative’s motion to compel timecard and payroll records for all employees in Valenzuela v. MC2 Pool & Spa, et al., No. C09-01698 RS (HRL), 2010 WL 3489596 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 3, 2010). Read the rest of this entry »

Central District Remands Class Action for Defendant’s Failure to Prove Amount in Controversy Under CAFA

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The Central District remanded a putative minimum wage and overtime class action suit in Munoz v. Central Parking Sys., Inc., No. CV 10-6172 PA (RCx), 2010 WL 3432239 (C.D. Cal. Aug. 30, 2010) (unpublished).

Plaintiff’s Complaint attempted to avoid removal, stating “[i]t is believed that the total sum owed to the Class alleged herein is less than $5 million, based upon the anticipated size of the Class and the amount in controversy for each member of the Class.”  Id. *1. Read the rest of this entry »

Eastern District Holds That Plaintiffs May Rely on a “Few Representative Inquiries” and Extrapolate to the Class

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The court in Adoma v. University of Phoenix, Inc., No. CIV. S-10-0059 LKK/GGH, 2010 WL 3431804 (E.D. Cal. Aug. 31, 2010 (slip op.) held that even where plaintiff’s proposed method of “reconstructing records of hours worked . . . will be imperfect”, plaintiffs may rely on “a few representative inquiries whose results will be extrapolated to the class.” Read the rest of this entry »

Second District Reverses Denial of Nationwide UCL and FAL Class

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The Second District Court of Appeal, in an unpublished opinion, reversed a trial court’s denial of plaintiff’s motion to certify a nationwide class in Schlesinger v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County (Ticketmaster), B224880, 2010 WL 3398844 (Cal. Ct. App. 2d Dist. Aug. 31, 2010).   Read the rest of this entry »