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 consideration.
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,
“Thus, the 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.