Justia Class Action Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in California Courts of Appeal
Garcia v. Super. Ct.
Petitioners are truck drivers previously employed by real party in interest Haralambos Beverage Co. (Haralambos). Petitioners' filed a putative wage and hour class action alleging, among other things, that Haralambos failed to provide meal and rest breaks in violation of Labor Code sections 226.7 and 512 and the Industrial Welfare Commission’s Wage Order No. 9-2001. Nearly two years later, on December 28, 2018, the FMCSA issued an order concluding that California’s meal and rest break rules are laws “‘on commercial motor vehicle safety,’” are preempted pursuant to title 49 United States Code section 31141 (section 31141). Thereafter, Haralambos filed a motion to strike the class allegations on federal preemption grounds, which the parties agreed was a request to strike petitioners’ third and fourth causes of action for failure to provide meal and rest breaks. On August 18, 2021, the superior court granted the motion and struck the two causes of action. The Second Appellate District granted Petitioners’ petition for writ of mandate. The court held that in light of the FMCSA’s authority to determine and communicate what it is preempting, its use of language suggesting prospective application only, and its failure to expressly extend its decision to pending claims, the court concluded the Preemption Decision does not apply to bar claims arising from conduct that occurred prior to the decision, i.e., before December 28, 2018. View "Garcia v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law
640 Tenth, LP v. Newsom
This putative class action against California and San Diego County officials challenged California Governor Gavin Newsom’s emergency orders and related public health directives restricting business operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Plaintiffs, owners of affected restaurants and gyms (Owners), primarily contended the orders were procedurally invalid because they were adopted without complying with the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Furthermore, Owners contended that the business restrictions were substantively invalid because they effected a taking without compensation, violating the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Rejecting these claims, the superior court sustained demurrers to the third amended complaint without leave to amend and dismissed the action. While the Court of Appeal sympathized with the position some Owners find themselves in and the significant financial losses they alleged, the unambiguous terms of the Emergency Services Act and controlling United States Supreme Court regulatory takings caselaw required that the judgment be affirmed. View "640 Tenth, LP v. Newsom" on Justia Law
Leshane v. Tracy VW, Inc.
Plaintiffs Nicole Leshane, Steve Garner, Justin Prasad, Isaac Saldana, and Maurice West sued defendants Tracy VW, Inc. and RJ Gill Ventures, Inc. alleging several Labor Code violations. Plaintiffs brought suit on behalf of themselves as defendants’ former employees, on behalf of others similarly situated, and on behalf of the state pursuant to the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004. After defendants filed a petition to compel arbitration, plaintiffs filed a first amended complaint alleging violations of the Labor Code solely as representatives of the state under the Private Attorneys General Act. Defendants continued to seek arbitration of plaintiffs’ individual claims and dismissal of their class-wide claims pursuant to the arbitration agreements each plaintiff signed. The trial court denied defendants’ petition to compel arbitration finding plaintiffs’ claim under the Private Attorneys General Act was not subject to arbitration citing Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles, LLC, 59 Cal.4th 348 (2014). Defendants appealed the trial court’s order. Finding no reversible error in the trial court's judgment, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "Leshane v. Tracy VW, Inc." on Justia Law
Estrada v. Royalty Carpet Mills, Inc.
The plaintiffs in this case were employees at three separate carpet manufacturing facilities operated by defendant Royalty Carpet Mills, Inc. (Royalty), also known as Royalty Carpet Mills, LLC. They alleged representative claims under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA), and class claims primarily based on purported meal and rest period violations. They sought premium pay under Labor Code section 226.7 for these violations and asserted derivative claims for waiting time and wage statement penalties, among others. The trial court initially certified two classes: one for employees that worked at a facility in Porterville (the Porterville class) and another for employees that worked in two separate facilities in Orange County (the Dyer/Derian class). Following the presentation of evidence at trial, the court decertified the Dyer/Derian class and entered judgment. The results were mixed and both sides appealed. The Court of Appeal agreed with three of Plaintiffs' six contentions: the court erred in failing to apply the relation back doctrine, in decertifying the Dyer/Derian class, and dismissing the PAGA claims as unmanageable. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Estrada v. Royalty Carpet Mills, Inc." on Justia Law
Plata v. City of San Jose
Appellants Raymond and Michelle Plata were property owners in the City of San Jose and customers of Muni Water. Muni Water’s annual budget was reflected each year in a document called a source and use of funds statement, which was part of the City’s annual operating budget. In 2013, the Platas filed with the City a claim pursuant to Government Code sections 910 and 910.2, accusing Muni Water of violating Proposition 218 ab initio by collecting money from customers and illegally transferring it to the City’s own general fund. The City rejected the claim, so in early 2014, the Platas brought a class action lawsuit seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against the City under Proposition 218, as well as recovery of the amounts overpaid. After a lengthy bench trial, the trial court issued a statement of decision finding: (1) the late fees charged by Muni Water were not a fee or charge covered by Proposition 218; (2) any claims accruing prior to November 4, 2012 were time-barred because of the statute of limitations provided under Government Code section 911.2, and there was no basis for applying any equitable tolling doctrine; (3) as for tiered water rates, the discussion of high rates in the Platas’ government claims adequate to gave notice to the City that its rate structure was being questioned; and (4) “[a] more significant complication” raised by the City in its class decertification motion. The tiered rate structure would impact different class members differently from month to month, thus making it potentially “impossible” to draw a “line between ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ based on monthly water consumption[.]” The court granted the City’s motion to decertify the class, and refused to grant the Platas any relief as to their tiered rate argument. The Platas appealed. The Court of Appeal reversed judgment only as to the trial court’s findings on the tiered rate structure. In all other respects, it was affirmed. View "Plata v. City of San Jose" on Justia Law
Cirrincione v. American Scissor Lift
Plaintiff Jason Cirrincione appealed an order denying class certification in a wage-and-hour action he filed against his former employer, defendant American Scissor Lift, Inc. (ASL). On appeal to the Court of Appeal, plaintiff argued reversal was required for a number reasons, including that the trial court’s ruling rested upon improper merits determinations and incorrect assumptions. Finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed the denial of class certification. View "Cirrincione v. American Scissor Lift" on Justia Law
Woods v. American Film Institute
The Court of Appeal affirmed an order denying certification of a class of persons who worked without pay for American Film Institute (AFI). The court concluded that the trial court acted within its discretion in finding that common issues would not predominate over individual ones. In this case, the putative class members who expected no compensation were not employees under California law; the class that plaintiff moved to certify is broad enough to include persons who expected to be paid; and thus, if the case were to proceed as a class action, the trier of fact would need to decide whether each class member expected to be paid or was in fact a volunteer. View "Woods v. American Film Institute" on Justia Law
George v. eBay, Inc.
The appellants were two of a group of plaintiffs who sued eBay and PayPal, challenging provisions in their respective user agreements. Plaintiffs’ second amended complaint alleged 23 causes of action, 13 against eBay, seven against PayPal, and three against both defendants. The trial court dismissed, without leave to amend, 20 of the causes of action, including 14 claims against eBay. Three causes of action proceeded: breach of contract against both defendants and violation of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing against eBay. More than three years later, the appellants opted out of the case against eBay, and voluntarily dismissed the two claims against it. Judgment of dismissal was entered against them.The appellants appealed, contending the trial court got it wrong as to 11 of the dismissed causes of action. The court of appeal affirmed, noting that this was the third appeal of the case. The trial court properly dismissed the claims and did not abuse its discretion in doing so without leave to amend. All of the alleged causes of action failed to state a claim. The court stated that “counsel for appellants has apparently been urging the same contentions for some nine years, all without success. This is enough.” View "George v. eBay, Inc." on Justia Law
Uribe v. Crown Building Maintenance Co.
Isabel Garibay appealed a trial court's confirmation of a class action settlement reached between Josue Uribe and Crown Building Maintenance Company (Crown). Uribe sued Crown as an individual regarding alleged Labor Code violations for failure to reimburse him for the cost of uniform cleaning and required footwear as a day porter doing janitorial-type work. Uribe’s suit also included a cause of action in a representative capacity for civil penalties and injunctive relief under the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA). The parties reached a settlement conditioned on Uribe filing an amended complaint converting his lawsuit into a class action on his Labor Code claims and including unreimbursed employee cell phone usage costs as an additional basis for both his Labor Code and PAGA causes of action. Garibay, an unnamed member of the class once it was formed, had earlier filed in the Alameda County Superior Court a putative class action asserting Labor Code claims for unreimbursed cell phone use by Crown employees, together with a representative PAGA cause of action on that basis. When Uribe and Crown sought preliminary approval of their agreement to settle Uribe’s lawsuit on a class-wide basis, the trial court authorized Garibay to intervene as a named party in the lawsuit to oppose the settlement. The trial court later granted Uribe’s motion for preliminary approval of the settlement, and then Crown and Uribe’s joint motion for final approval. Meanwhile, the Judicial Council had referred Crown’s petition to coordinate Uribe’s and Garibay’s lawsuits to the presiding judge of the Alameda court to appoint a judge to hear the petition; that appointment remained pending at the time the judgment in Orange County was entered. After the parties advised the Alameda court no stay had been entered in the coordination proceedings, the court subsequently entered judgment. Garibay challenged the settlement after the trial court declined to rule on both Crown’s motion to dismiss Garibay’s complaint in intervention and Garibay’s motion to vacate the judgment. The Court of Appeal found Uribe's PAGA notice did not encompass a claim for unreimbursed cell phone expenses, making the notice was inadequate to support Uribe’s PAGA cause of action on that theory in his lawsuit. And because Uribe and Crown’s agreement did not allow for severance of nonviable settlement terms, judicial approval of a settlement that included Uribe’s PAGA cause of action could not survive review. The Court therefore reversed the judgment. View "Uribe v. Crown Building Maintenance Co." on Justia Law
Turrieta v. Lyft, Inc.
Three drivers for the rideshare company, Lyft, each filed separate representative actions against Lyft under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA) (Lab. Code 2698), alleging that Lyft misclassified its California drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, thereby violating multiple provisions of the Labor Code. Following mediation in 2019, one driver, Turrieta, and Lyft reached a settlement. After Turrieta moved for court approval of the settlement, the other drivers sought to intervene and object to the settlement, arguing that Lyft had engaged in a “reverse auction” by settling with Turrieta for an unreasonably low amount and that the settlement contained other provisions that were unlawful and inconsistent with PAGA’s purpose. The trial court found that they lacked standing and approved the settlement.The court of appeal affirmed. The status of the other drivers as PAGA plaintiffs in separate actions does not confer standing to move to vacate the judgment or challenge the judgment on appeal. While they may appeal from the court’s implicit order denying them intervention, there was no error in that denial. View "Turrieta v. Lyft, Inc." on Justia Law