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March 2017

Gordon & Rees California Team Defeats Class Certification in Claimed High Eight Figure Wage and Hour Multi-Plaintiff Case After Years of Litigation

In a highly contested, high stakes multi-plaintiff wage and hour class action case against a California based health drink maker, Gordon & Rees attorneys Jon Yonemitsu, Robert D. Wilson III, Travis Jang-Busby and Serafin Tagarao were successful in defeating class certification on every level.

In a case consisting of several consolidated class actions each filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the plaintiffs alleged class wide claims for unpaid overtime, missed meal periods and rest breaks, inadequate seating, unreimbursed expenses and derivative claims for inaccurate wage statements, unpaid waiting time penalties and PAGA violations. The plaintiffs sought to certify a class involving employees who worked from September 2009 forward covering hundreds and hundreds of employees. 

Gordon & Rees attorneys vehemently opposed class-wide fact and legal issues predominated during several years of contentious litigation, that included numerous depositions and voluminous written discovery.  Despite having to deal with fairly standardized policies and routinized record keeping and time tracking methods, the firm's attorneys successfully argued identifying putative class members involved purely an individualized assessment, particularly considering the varying admissions the plaintiffs conceded in discovery and the inability for statistical data to overcome such admissions.  By undertaking focused discovery, the Gordon & Rees team effectively established the only evidence the plaintiffs’ could put forth germane to a community of interest (a critical component to establish class-wide treatment) was “distinctly uncommon proof” as noted by the trial Judge.      

After extensive oral argument, the Court issued a 24-page written ruling denying certification as to all of causes of action incorporated in the substance of arguments raised by Gordon & Rees in opposition to the motion.  The Court further sustained critical evidentiary objections raised by Gordon & Rees attorneys in its opposition.  In an environment where the plaintiff’s attorneys routinely file wage and hour class action lawsuits seeking multiple millions of dollars and often obtaining substantial settlements in the millions of dollars, the denial of the plaintiffs’ motion to certify the class is an important victory for California employers and further establishes employers will hold their ground when sued.

Travis K. Jang-Busby