Articles Posted in California Court of Appeal

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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

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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

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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

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Evidence Code 1158 requires medical providers to produce records demanded by patients before litigation and authorizes the requesting attorney to employ a photocopier to obtain the records. Reasonable costs may be charged, subject to limits: $0.10 per page for reproducing regular-sized documents, $0.20 per page for producing documents from microfilm, and clerical costs not to exceed $16 per hour per person for locating and making records available. Plaintiff was admitted to Saint Francis for treatment of burn injuries. Operating under a contract with Saint Francis, HealthPort responded to plaintiff’s attorney’s request for medical records, sending an invoice, stating: “HealthPort has agreed to copy records for you, upon your hiring of HealthPort .... The rates that HealthPort is charging do not fall under [section] 1158.” HealthPort’s invoice included a $30 “basic fee,” a $15 “retrieval fee,” $25.25 for copying 101 pages at $0.25 per page, $10.30 for shipping, and $5.97 for sales tax, and stated “Payment implies that you agreed to employ HealthPort … and ... accepted the charge.” Plaintiff’s attorney paid HealthPort’s invoice, “under protest ∙ in violation of CA EVID CODE 1158.” In 2013, plaintiff filed suit, alleging violation of section 1158 and of the Unfair Competition Law and sought class certification. The court of appeal reversed denial of that motion. The common question is the application of section 1158 to HealthPort’s uniform practices in response to attorney requests for medical records. The fact that each class member ultimately may have to establish his request was submitted in contemplation of litigation does not overwhelm the common question. View "Nicodemus v. St. Francis" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff alleged that, after her employment terminated, defendants failed to pay all of her final wages. She filed a putative class action under Labor Code sections 201-203, also asserting a representative Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) claim seeking civil penalties on behalf of plaintiff and other aggrieved employees. Defendants submitted an arbitration agreement signed by plaintiff, stating any disputes would be submitted to arbitration and that “[a]ny such claims must be submitted on an individual basis only and I hereby waive the right to bring or join any type of collective or class claim in arbitration, in any court, or in any other forum.” Defendants conceded that the agreement cannot waive the representative PAGA claim. The trial court compelled arbitration of plaintiff’s individual claim, dismissed the class claims, bifurcated the representative PAGA claim, and stayed the PAGA claim pending the completion of arbitration. The court of appeal concluded the order is nonappealable; the order does not appear to constitute a de facto final judgment for absent plaintiffs. The putative class members/aggrieved employees under PAGA because their PAGA claims remain pending. View "Young v. REMX" on Justia Law

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Penal Code section 849.5 provides that if a person is arrested and released and no accusatory pleading is filed, the arrest shall be deemed a detention only. Section 851.6, subdivision (b) provides that the arresting law enforcement agency shall issue the person a certificate describing the action as a detention. Subdivision (d) of the section provides that the official criminal records shall delete any reference to an arrest and refer to the action as a detention. Plaintiff filed a class action against the CHP, seeking a writ of mandate to compel the CHP to comply with sections 849.5 and 851.6. The trial court certified the class, awarded the writ petition, and awarded attorney fees pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5, the private attorney general statute. The court concluded that plaintiff was entitled to have his arrest deemed a detention under section 849.5, entitled to a certificate from the CHP describing the action as a detention under section 851.6, subd. (b); and entitled to have his arrest deleted from the records of the CHP and the Department of Justice and have any such record refer to it as a detention under 851.6, subd. (d). The court also concluded that the trial court did not err in certifying the class where the class is ascertainable; there is sufficient evidence of numerous persons in the class; the evidence is sufficient to support a finding that a community of interest exists; and plaintiff's claims are typical of the class. Finally, the court concluded that the writ of mandate is not problematic, and the trial court was within its discretion in awarding attorney fees. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Schmidt v. Cal. Highway Patrol" on Justia Law