Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal

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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

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QVMC is a full-service hospital. Lampe and McNair, QVMC nurses, filed suit, alleging: violation of Business and Professions Code 17200; violation of Labor Code sections 206, 218, 226, 510, 1194, and 1198; failure to pay meal break penalties under Labor Code sections 226.7 and 512; inaccurate wage statements under Labor Code section 226; violation of the Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) under Labor Code sections 2698–2699; unpaid wages due to illegal rounding under Labor Code sections 218, 510, 1194, 1197 and 1198; and failure to provide meal breaks under Labor Code sections 226.7 and 512. They moved to certify an “overtime class” of employees who earned overtime bonuses where QVMC failed to properly calculate their regular rate of pay, and alternative work schedule employees who were asked to leave work between the eighth and twelfth hour of their shift and were not paid overtime wages; a “meal break” class with a subclass of all employees who signed meal break waivers; and a “wage statement” class to include any QVMC employee who received a pay stub. The court of appeal affirmed denial of certification, agreeing that individualized issues predominated and the claims could not be proven efficiently as a class. View "Lampe v. Queen of the Valley Medical Center" on Justia Law

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The trial court denied class certification in a wage and hour suit challenging whether U.S. Bank properly classified its business banking officers (BBOs) as exempt employees under the outside salesperson exemption. The exemption applies to employees who spend more than 50 percent of their workday engaged in sales activities outside their employer’s place of business. The trial court concluded plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that the case is manageable as a class action, stating that it had no evidence establishing uniformity in how BBOs spent their time, despite surveys conducted by the plaintiffs and other voluminous evidence. Plaintiffs satisfied the requirements of ascertainability, numerosity, and adequacy of representation but failed to show common questions of law or fact predominated over individual issues, so class treatment was not superior to other means of resolving the claims. The court of appeal affirmed. A 2015 survey was unreliable for the purpose of showing that common issues would predominate at trial. The trial court properly focused on manageability issues pertaining to the affirmative defenses, while fully understanding plaintiffs’ theory of liability. View "Duran v. U.S. Bank National Association" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs sued Dentsply, Cavitron's manufacturer and marketer, on behalf of California dentists who purchased the Cavitron ultrasonic scaler for use during oral surgical procedures, under the Unfair Competition Law (UCL) (Bus. & Prof. Code, 17200) and for breach of express warranty. Plaintiffs claim that the Directions for Use indicate Cavitrons can be used in “[p]eriodontal debridement for all types of periodontal diseases,” which by implication included oral surgery; in fact, they cannot because the device accumulates biofilm in its waterlines and is incapable of delivering sterile water during surgical procedures. Following a remand, the trial court certified the class, conducted a bench trial, and rejected all claims. The court of appeal affirmed, agreeing that plaintiffs, as licensed dentists, were well aware that biofilm forms in all dental waterlines and that Cavitrons do not produce sterile water. The evidence failed to establish that the class was likely to be misled. The weight of the evidence established that dental professionals did not understand the warranty that the Cavitron was suitable for use in “[p]eriodontal debridement for all types of periodontal diseases,” as a statement that the Cavitron delivered sterile water or water without biofilm. View "Patricia A. Murray Dental Corp. v. Dentsply International., Inc." on Justia Law

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ABM, a facility services company with employees throughout the U.S., has thousands of janitorial workers at hundreds of California job sites. Plaintiffs, present or former ABM employees, on behalf of themselves and similarly situated Californians, filed suit in 2007, alleging that ABM violated California labor laws by failing to properly record and compensate employees for meal breaks; requiring employees to work split shifts without appropriate compensation; and failing to ensure that employees were reimbursed for expenses incurred when traveling between work sites. In 2010, plaintiffs moved for class certification of a general class of ABM workers and subclasses of such workers who had been subjected to particular violations. The court found plaintiffs’ expert evidence inadmissible, denied the class certification motion, and denied plaintiffs’ motion under Code of Civil Procedure 473(b), to supplement the evidence concerning the expert's qualifications. The court of appeal reversed, concluding that materials submitted before the class certification hearing were sufficient to qualify plaintiffs’ expert in database management and analysis; it was error for the court to completely disregard plaintiffs’ proffered expert evidence of common practice, rather than accepting it for what it was and weighing it against any individualized inquiries that might properly have defeated plaintiffs’ request for class certification. The proposed classes were ascertainable and plaintiffs’ allegations presented predominantly common questions. View "ABM Industries Overtime Cases" on Justia Law

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Noel purchased an inflatable Kids Stuff Ready Set Pool for $59.99, based on a photograph on the packaging, depicting a group of three adults and two children sitting and playing in the pool. The box also prominently displayed the pool’s actual dimensions: “8FT X 25IN.” Once Noel inflated his pool, it was “materially smaller” than shown on the packaging and was capable of fitting only one adult and four small children. Noel sued on behalf of himself and similarly situated individuals, alleging violation of the Consumers Legal Remedies Act (Civ. Code 1750) (CLRA), Unfair Competition Law (Bus. & Prof. Code 17200) (UCL), and False Advertising Law (Bus. & Prof. Code 17500) (FAL). The court denied class certification on the UCL and FAL claims, finding Noel’s proposed class of more than 20,000 potential members was not ascertainable (Code of Civil Procedure 382) and refused to certify a class on Noel’s CLRA claim because it determined common questions of law or fact did not predominate over individual questions of reliance and causation. The court of appeal affirmed. The certification motion was filed without first conducting sufficient discovery to meet plaintiff’s burden of demonstrating there are means of identifying putative class members so that they might be notified of the litigation, which jeopardizes the due process rights of absent class members. View "Noel v. Thrifty Payless, Inc." on Justia Law