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Pfohl v. Farmers Insurance Group

March 1, 2004

THOMAS PFOHL, ET AL, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
FARMERS INSURANCE GROUP, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Tevrizian, J.

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF THOMAS PFOHL'S AMENDED MOTION FOR CERTIFICATION OF COLLECTIVE ACTION UNDER SECTION 216(B) OF THE FAIR LABOR STANDARDS ACT

I. Background

This action is brought by Plaintiff Thomas Pfohl ("Plaintiff") against Defendant Farmers Insurance Exchange, erroneously sued as Farmers Insurance Group ("Farmers"), for overtime wages pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). Plaintiff brings this action on behalf of himself and all other similarly situated employees who were employed by Farmers as temporary full-time insurance adjusters. Presently before this Court is Plaintiff's Amended Motion for Certification of Collection Action Under Section 216(b) of the FLSA.

A. Factual Summary

The following facts are alleged in the Complaint:

Plaintiff was employed by Farmers from February 26, 2002 until October 11, 2002. (Complaint, ¶ 8.) He was paid $40.00 per hour, with no minimum salary, worked approximately seventy hours per week and was not paid at a rate one and a half times his normal rate for hours worked in excess of forty hours per week. ( See id.) His duties consisted of working on Farmers' files involving claims submitted to Farmers for property damage and other damages alleged to be caused by the formation of mold in residential and commercial buildings. ( See id.)

Plaintiff brings this action as a collective action pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). ( See id. at ¶ 3.) All Plaintiffs were "employees" of Farmers because they were required to comply with Farmers' instructions about when, where and how they were expected to work. ( See id. at ¶ 6.) Plaintiffs have a right of recovery under the FLSA for unpaid overtime wages owed to them for hours worked in excess of forty hours per week in which their compensation was based upon the number of hours they worked each week, but they were not paid an amount equal to one and a half times their normal hourly rate for all hours worked in excess of forty hours per week. ( See id. at ¶ 5.)

B. Procedural Summary

On January 6, 2003, Plaintiff filed the Complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California ("Northern District").

On February 3, 2003, Farmers filed its Answer in the Northern District.

On March 10, 2003, Farmers filed a Motion to Transfer Venue in the Northern District.

On April 14, 2003, the Northern District filed an Order of Transfer, transferring this action to the Central District of California. Upon receipt of this action, the action was assigned to this Court.

On August 11, 2003, this Court held a Scheduling Conference and set the following dates: Phase I discovery cutoff on November 28, 2003 and status conference on December 8, 2003.

On September 8, 2003, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Certification of Collective Action Under Section 216(b) of the FLSA.

On September 15, 2003, a Consent to Opt In as Class Member was filed.

On September 23, 2003, three Consents to Opt In as Class Member were filed.

On November 23, 2003, Plaintiff filed an Amended Motion for Certification of Collective Action Under Section 216(b) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which is currently before this Court.*fn1 The previously set Status Conference was also continued to this date.

On February 10, 2004, six Consents to Opt In as Class Member were filed.

On February 12, 2004, Plaintiff filed a "Hearing Date on Motion to Amend Complaint In Action At Law March 8, 2004 at 10:00 A.M."*fn2

On February 24, 2004, three Consents to Opt In as Class Member were filed.

II. Discussion

A. Standard

The FLSA provides an "employee" with a private right of action against his "employer" when that employer fails to pay overtime wages, i.e., one and one-half times the regular rate of pay per hour, when the employee works in excess of forty hours per week. See 29 U.S.C. §§ 203, 207. An employee is also authorized to bring an action on behalf of similarly situated employees, Id. at § 216(b); Doe v. Advanced Textile Corp., 214 F.3d 1058, 1064 (9th Cir.2000). Such an action is a type of class action, known as a "collective action," for employees who are "similarly situated" to the plaintiffs and who opt-in to the suit by filing a consent in writing with the court. 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). If employees do not opt in by filing a written consent, they are not bound by the outcome of the collective action and may bring a subsequent private action. EEOC v. Pan Am. Work Airways, Inc., 897 F.2d 1499, 1508 n. 11 (9th Cir.1990). A district court may authorize the named plaintiffs in a FLSA collective action to send notice to all potential plaintiffs ...


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