Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal

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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

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Artur Hefczyc appealed an order denying his motion for class certification in his lawsuit against Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego (Rady). On behalf of a proposed class, Hefczyc sought declaratory relief to establish that Rady's form contract, signed by patients or guarantors of patients who receive emergency room care, authorized Rady to charge only for the reasonable value of its services, and that Rady therefore was not authorized to bill self-pay patients based on its master list of itemized charge rates, commonly referred to as the "Chargemaster" schedule of rates, which Hefczyc alleged was "artificial" and "grossly inflated." The trial court denied Hefczyc's motion for class certification, concluding that the class was not ascertainable, that common issues did not predominate, and that class action litigation was not a superior means of proceeding. Hefczyc contends that the trial court erred in denying class certification because, as the complaint sought only declaratory relief, the motion for class certification was brought under the equivalent of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, rule 23(b)(1)(A) or (b)(2) (28 U.S.C.), for which he was not required to establish the ascertainability of the class, that common issues predominated and that class action litigation was a superior means of proceeding. Hefczyc also contended that even if the trial court properly imposed those three requirements in this action, the trial court abused its discretion in concluding that those requirements were not met. After review, the Court of Appeal concluded that Hefczyc's arguments lacked merit, and accordingly affirmed the order denying class certification. View "Hefczyz v. Rady Children's Hosp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-appellant Paul Kendall's second amended complaint made several types of class-wide claims that challenged the billing and collection practices of the health facility operating an emergency room where he received care, defendant and respondent Scripps Health (Scripps). Kendall contended that "selfpay" patients, who signed a form during the reception process at the emergency room (an "Agreement for Services at a Scripps Facility"), were being unfairly billed under that contractual agreement at prescribed rates that are listed on a publicly available "charge description master" (Charge Master). This appeal arose out of the trial court's order denying Kendall's motion to certify a proposed class of self-pay patients for the pursuit of two overriding legal theories that applied to both the declaratory relief and statutory claims. Scripps opposed the motion, arguing a class action was not shown to be an appropriate method to pursue the case because of a lack of predominant common issues and of any convincing showing of an ability to ascertain the identity of all the proposed class members. The trial court denied the motion for class certification, concluding that Kendall had not presented any substantial evidence showing there were predominant common issues of law and fact among the putative class members. On appeal, Kendall contends the trial court's order denying class certification of his statutory claims reflects the use of improper criteria and an incorrect legal analysis. Finding no abuse of discretion or lack of substantial evidence, the Court of Appeal affirmed the order denying class certification. View "Kendall v. Scripps Health" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal treated the consolidated appeal as a petition for writ of mandate and reached the merits of the superior court's order compelling arbitration of plaintiff's individual claims and terminating the class claims. The court granted the petition in part, finding plaintiff's cause of action under the Labor Code for Doty Bros.' failure to timely pay wages upon his separation from employment and his unfair competition action based on that alleged statutory violation were not encompassed by the arbitration provision in the collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The court denied the petition in all other respects, holding that the remaining causes of action were subject to arbitration, and the trial court's termination of the class claims were proper on the ground that the CBA did not authorize classwide arbitration. View "Cortez v. Doty Bros. Equipment Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs are current and former correctional peace officers who work or worked at various state correctional facilities. They brought coordinated class actions alleging they were improperly denied pay for the time they spent under their employer’s control before and after their work shifts while traveling to and from their work posts, attending briefings, checking out mandatory equipment, and submitting to searches at security checkpoints. Plaintiffs alleged causes of action for failure to pay contractual overtime (Lab. Code, 222, 223), failure to pay the California minimum wage (1182.11, 1182.12, 1194), failure to keep accurate records of hours worked (1174), and failure to pay overtime in breach of common law contractual obligations. The court certified classes, with two subclasses, distinguishing between employees represented by unions and those not represented, then held that plaintiffs’ entitlement to overtime pay is controlled by federal, rather than California, law, the entered judgment for defendants. The court of appeal reversed as to the subclass of unrepresented supervisory employees and affirmed as to the subclass of represented employees. View "Stoetzl v. State of California" on Justia Law