LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) – The Civil Justice Association
of California has filed a letter in support of review of the case
of Lubin v.
Wackenhut, which is poised to set
legal standards for class action certifications regarding employer liability and meal and rest breaks.
The case, which was filed by an
employee at Wackenhut, claims that employees at the company were required to
remain on-duty during legally required meal
and rest breaks, and additionally charged the company with providing inadequate wage statements. The
plaintiffs alleged both actions were in violation of California labor laws.
Initially the trial
court certified the case as a class action, but decertified the class after
Wackenhut filed a motion citing the United States Supreme Court decision in Wal-Mart
Stores Inc. v. Dukes. On appeal, the class was recertified by the 2nd
Appellate District Court of California, and sent back to the lower court for
CJAC’s letter asks the California Supreme Court to review
the case in its amicus letter, listing two main reasons that the case warrants
review by the state’s highest court.
According to the letter, the court should determine whether the decision to certify a class must be based on
evidence of the number of individuals that were allegedly harmed, or if the determination should be made based on an analysis of possible class members.
“The appellate opinion ‘cherry picked’ from a body of
conflicting opinions about whether and when to certify a class action, choosing
only those that emphasize the importance of ‘theory’ over ‘facts’ (as shown by
the ‘evidence’) in making that determination,” writes the CJAC,
appellate opinion stands for the proposition that ‘evidence’ numerous employees…were
not members of the class to whom petitioner could owe liability, should be
subordinated to plaintiffs’ ‘theory’ that they somehow…might be able to prove
liability by common evidence.”
Additionally, CJAC asks the court to clarify the holding of Duran v. U.S.
Bank in the Wackenhut case and similar lawsuits.
“There is plainly a sharp
difference of view here between the litigants and the trial and appellate
courts as to what Duran means for the
scope and application of statistical sampling and extrapolation for determining
the ‘nature of work’ exception/defense in meal and rest break violation claims,”
explains the letter.
“For the aforementioned reasons, and others CJAC will seek
to provide should review be granted, we urge the court to order review and iron
out the anomalies this opinion presents,” concludes the eight-page amicus curiae letter signed by Fred
J. Hiestand, general counsel for the CJAC.