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Moore v. R.E. STAITE Engineering

December 26, 2008

JOHN MOORE, BRIAN HATHEWAY, ANTONIO CASTILLO, ALEXANDER SILVA, JON SANDERS ON THEIR OWN BEHALF, ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, AND ON BEHALF OF THE GENERAL PUBLIC. PLAINTIFF,
v.
R.E. STAITE ENGINEERING, INC. DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge William McCurine Jr. United States District Court

ORDER OF FINAL APPROVAL OF CLASS SETTLEMENT, CLASS ENHANCEMENTS, AND ATTORNEYS FEES Hearing Date: December 18, 2008 Time: 2:00 p.m. Magistrate: Hon. William McCurine

I. INTRODUCTION

Preliminary approval of this class action settlement was granted on September 4, 2008. The settlement agreed to by the parties resolves the wage and hour Class Claims*fn1 of the class of Plaintiffs*fn2 against Defendant, R.E. STAITE, during the Class Period.*fn3 Plaintiffs' claims included contentions that Defendant failed and or refused to provide Class Members their rest breaks. Defendant has a relatively high turn over rate, employing 20 to 35 Class Members at a time, resulting in a total class of 153 individuals. The settlement amount in this case is two hundred and forty five thousand dollars ($245,000.00).

Plaintiffs' Complaint pled the nine causes of action alleging violations of California statutes: (1) unfair business practices; (2) failure to pay for all hours worked (3) failure to provide lunch breaks; (4) failure to provide rest periods; (5) failure to pay wages when due;(6) failure to pay wages upon quitting or discharge;(7) failure to provide accurate wage statements; (8) withholding monies knowingly owed; and (9) failure to provide safe employment.

Defendant contends it complied with all California and federal wage and hour laws, and that a substantial portion of all hours worked was subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of United States government, and not subject to California law,*fn4 the work having been performed or having been originated, on federal enclaves. Defendant has contended, and Plaintiffs have conceded, that during the Class Period a substantial amount of plaintiffs' hours worked physically occurred on military installations, including: (1) the 32nd Street Naval Station in San Diego, (2) Point Lorna Naval Submarine base in San Diego, (3) North Island Naval Station in Coronado, (4) Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station in Seal Beach, (5) San Clemente Island Naval Station, and/or (6) Camp Pendleton Marine Base. Defendants contend, and Plaintiffs have conceded, that an average of 43% of the Named Plaintiffs work occurred at those locations: Castillo 15%, Moore 31%, Hathaway 35%, Sanders 59%, Silva 74%. Based on all of the above, Defendant contended that Plaintiffs California claims were precluded in their entirety.*fn5

II. ANALYSIS FOR FINAL APPROVAL

i) Standard of Review

"Assessing a settlement proposal requires the district court to balance a number of factors: the strength of the plaintiffs' case; the risk, expense, complexity, and likely duration of further litigation; the risk of maintaining class action status throughout the trial; the amount offered in settlement; the extent of discovery completed and the stage of the proceedings; the experience and views of counsel; the presence of a governmental participant; and the reaction of the class members to the proposed settlement."*fn6

ii) Strength of Plaintiffs' Case and Risks Of Litigation

Defendant denies all of Plaintiffs' claims, and maintains that it complied with all California and federal wage and hour laws. In addition, Defendant maintains that California wage and hour laws do not apply to the majority of Plaintiffs' claims, contending Plaintiffs' work occurred within federal enclaves. In addition, California wage and hour law regarding the burden of proof in regards to rest breaks remains in flux.

Defendant argues that only federal wage and hour law applied, not California law.*fn7

Property within the territorial boundaries of the State of California that have been transferred to the U.S. Government may be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government, or three types of exceptions to that exclusive jurisdiction.*fn8 Case law has developed discussing the three possible scenarios, or qualifications, to the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States. The first exception described in case law is the exception in which the state may continue to exercise jurisdiction expressly reserved by the state as a condition to its consent (and consistent with the federal use).*fn9 The second exception to exclusive jurisdiction is that state laws existing at the time the United States accepts jurisdiction over the property at issue remains enforceable upon that property unless "abrogated" by federal law.*fn10 As such, property within the territorial boundaries that have been transferred to the U.S. Government may be subject to:

* The exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government (hereinafter "exclusive"); or

* The jurisdiction of the federal government with California maintaining partial jurisdiction in order to effect service ...


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