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Salazar v. Avis Budget Group

July 2, 2008

GELASIO SALAZAR AND SAAD SHAMMAS, ET AL. PLAINTIFFS,
v.
AVIS BUDGET GROUP, INC., BUDGET RENT A CAR SYSTEM, INC., AVIS BUDGET CAR RENTAL, LLC, AB CAR RENTAL SERVICES, INC., AND AVIS RENT A CAR SYSTEM, LLC, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Irma E. Gonzalez, Chief Judge United States District Court

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION

(Doc. No. 58.)

Presently before the Court is a motion for class certification filed by plaintiffs Gelasio Salazar and Saad Shammas. (Doc. No. 58.) For the following reasons, the Court denies the motion.

BACKGROUND

Factual Background

Plaintiffs bring this purported class action to recover wages allegedly owed to mechanics and "mechanics' helpers" (collectively "employees") for work days they did not take a thirty minute meal period. Defendants are companies involved in operating the Avis and Budget car rental agencies. Plaintiff Gelasio Salazar worked for one of the Budget companies as a mechanic's helper beginning in 1999. Plaintiff Saad Shammas worked for a Budget company as a mechanic's helper beginning in 2003.

Plaintiffs allege they did not always take a meal period of at least thirty minutes after working for five hours and are thus owed additional compensation under the California Labor Code. The payroll records for the named plaintiffs and other mechanics show they did not always stop working for a thirty minute meal period during each business day. Defendants argue there is no evidence they ever required any employee to work through his or her meal period.

Procedural Background

Plaintiffs filed the class complaint in Superior Court in San Diego, California, and defendants removed the action to federal court on January 10, 2007. (Doc. No. 1.) On May 8, 2007, the Court denied plaintiffs' motion to remand. (Doc. No. 25.) On May 12, 2008, plaintiffs filed the instant motion. (Doc. No. 58.) On May 14, 2008, the Court granted plaintiffs' motion to file an amended complaint. (Doc. No. 65.) Plaintiffs filed the first amended complaint on May 15, 2008. (Doc. No. 66.) On June 9, 2008, defendants filed an opposition to the motion for class certification. (Doc. No. 72.) On June 16, 2008, plaintiffs filed a reply.*fn1 The Court heard oral argument on the motion on June 23, 2008 at 10:30 a.m. Sarah Warner and Tim Williams appeared on behalf of plaintiffs. Jerrilyn Malana and Jody Landry appeared on behalf of defendants.

DISCUSSION

Legal Standard

Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs the certification of a class in federal court. As a threshold matter, the moving party must establish that all four requirements of Rule 23(a) have been met. These four requirements are often referred to as numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy. Hunt v. Check Recovery Sys., Inc., 241 F.R.D. 505 (N.D. Cal. 2007). First, the class must be so numerous that joinder of all members individually is "impracticable." See Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a)(1). Second, there must be questions of law or fact common to the class. Id. (a)(2). Third, the claims or defenses of the class representative must be typical of the claims or defenses of the class. Id. (a)(3). And fourth, the person representing the class must be able to protect fairly and adequately the interests of all members of the class. Id. (a)(4).

If all four prerequisites of Rule 23(a) are satisfied, the court then determines whether to certify the class under one of the three subsections of Rule 23(b). In this case, plaintiffs rely upon subsection Rule 23(b)(3), which requires plaintiffs to establish that: (1) questions of law or fact common to the class predominate; and (2) a class action is superior to other methods available for adjudicating the controversy at issue. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(3).

In determining whether an action warrants class treatment under Rule 23, "the question is not whether the plaintiff or plaintiffs have stated a cause of action or will prevail on the merits, but rather whether the requirements of Rule 23 are met." Eisen v. Carlisle & Jacquelin, 417 U.S. 156, 177 (1974). "At this early stage of the litigation, the Court must only determine if the plaintiffs have proffered enough evidence to meet the requirements of FRCP 23, not weigh competing evidence." Wang v. Chinese Daily News, Inc., 231 F.R.D. 602, 605 (C.D. Cal. 2005) (citation omitted). The court exercises broad discretion in granting or denying a motion for class certification. See Staton v. Boeing Co., 327 F.3d 938, 953 (9th Cir. 2003); Dukes v. Wal-Mart, Inc., 509 F.3d 1168, 1175 (9th Cir. 2007) ("The district ...


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