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Hardiman v. Taco Bell Corp.

March 4, 2009

LISA HARDIMAN, INDIVIDUALLY, AND SIMILARLY SITUATED, AND AS AN AGGRIEVED EMPLOYEE PURSUANT TO THE PRIVATE ATTORNEYS GENERAL ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS ACT (PAGA), PLAINTIFF,
v.
TACO BELL CORP., A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION; TACO BELL OF AMERICA, INC., A DELAWARE CORPORATION; TACO BELL FOUNDATION, INC., A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION; AND DOES 1 THROUGH 10, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Oliver W. Wanger United States District Judge

ORDER AFTER SCHEDULING CONFERENCE

I. Date of Scheduling Conference. February 27, 2009.

II. Appearances Of Counsel.

Initiative Legal Group LLP appeared on behalf of Plaintiff. Irell & Manella LLP by Andra Green, Esq., and Littler Mendelson by Daniel Cravens, Esq., appeared on behalf of Defendants Taco Bell Corp. and Taco Bell of America, Inc.

III. Summary of Pleadings. Plaintiff's Statement

1. Defendants formerly employed Plaintiff as an hourly-paid employee, from on or about July 31, 2004, to on or about June 16, 2007, at Fresno, California business locations. Plaintiff brought this lawsuit on April 11, 2008, in the Superior Court of California for the County of Los Angeles, alleging a representative action as a deputized private attorney general pursuant to California Labor Code § 2699 et seq. (the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 ["PAGA"]), on her own behalf and on behalf of all other aggrieved employees.

2. Plaintiff subsequently filed, as a matter of right, her operative First Amended Complaint on June 25, 2008, alleging a Rule 23 class action in addition to the previously alleged PAGA representative action. The operative complaint defines the putative class as all non-exempt or hourly-paid employees who have been employed by Defendants in the State of California within four years prior to the filing of the complaint until resolution of the lawsuit. The complaint alleges that there is a well-defined community of interest among the putative class members, and that the putative class is easily ascertainable and fulfills the requirements of numerosity, typicality, adequacy, and superiority.

3. On July 25, 2008, this matter was removed to Federal District Court as Case No. 1:08-cv-1081.

4. On October 22, 2008, the Court granted Plaintiff leave to file her proposed Second Amended Complaint. Plaintiff filed the Second Amended Complaint on October 27, 2008.

5. Plaintiff's operative Complaint alleges that Defendants

(1) failed to pay overtime compensation to aggrieved employees and putative class members, in violation of Cal Lab. Code §§ 510 and 1198, (2) failed to provide meal periods or compensation in lieu thereof, in violation of Cal. Lab. Code §§ 226.7(a) and 512(a), (3) failed to provide rest periods or compensation in lieu thereof, in violation of Cal. Lab. Code § 226.7(a), (4) failed to comply with itemized wage statement provisions, in violation of Cal. Lab. Code § 226(a), (5) failed to timely pay aggrieved employees and putative class members upon discharge, in violation of Cal. Lab. Code §§ 201 and 202, and that the failure to pay subjects Defendants to liability for "waiting time penalties" under Cal. Lab. Code § 203, (6) failed to pay wages, in violation of Cal. Lab. Code § 204, (7) failed to reimburse aggrieved employees and putative class members for business-related expenses, in violation of Cal. Lab. Code §§ 2800 and 2802, and (8) violated California unfair competition laws.

6. On behalf of all aggrieved employees and putative class members, Plaintiff seeks to recover unpaid compensation and unlawfully withheld wages, including the interest thereon, as well as damages, penalties under PAGA, and statutory penalties for the applicable limitations period. Plaintiff further seeks attorneys' fees and costs.

Defendants' Statement

1. This action is not the first putative class action Plaintiff filed on behalf of the putative class. On or about September 7, 2007, Plaintiff Sandrika Medlock ("Medlock") filed a "Complaint for Class Action" in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, Fresno Division, against the same defendants. See Medlock v. Taco Bell Corp., et al., No. 1:07-cv-1314 (E.D. Cal. filed Sept. 7, 2007 (the "Medlock Action")). The definition of the proposed class in the Medlock Action is identical to the putative class defined in the Second Amended Complaint. Further, Plaintiff and Medlock sought relief based on alleged violations of the California Labor Code and the California Business and Professions Code that are the basis of Plaintiff's claims in the FAC. However, on or about September 10, 2007, a "First Amended Complaint for Class Action" was filed in the Medlock Action. That amendment removed Hardiman as a plaintiff from the Medlock Action. The Medlock Action is presently proceeding before this Court. Plaintiff filed the instant action in state court on or about April 11, 2008. Defendants timely removed the action to this Court, and the action was deemed related to the Medlock Action by this Court's Order dated July 31, 2008.

2. Defendants admit that Taco Bell Corp. or Taco Bell of America, Inc., employed Plaintiff and other persons as non-exempt or hourly paid restaurant employees. Defendants deny any and all allegations in Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint relating to Plaintiff's claims that Defendants engaged in acts or omissions in violation of the California Labor Code, violated California unfair competition laws, or engaged in any other type of wrongdoing.

3. Defendants deny that Plaintiff or any other putative class member is entitled to any type of relief in this action including, without limitation, unpaid compensation, wages, and interest thereon, damages, statutory penalties, and penalties under PAGA. Defendants deny that Plaintiff is entitled to recover attorneys' fees and costs.

IV. Orders Re Amendments To Pleadings.

1. Plaintiff's Statement. Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint on October 27, 2008, pursuant to the Court's October 22, 2008, Order granting Plaintiff leave to file the amended complaint.

2. Defendants' Statement. Defendants' filed an answer to Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint on November 13, 2008.

3. Defendants propose to move to consolidate these cases with two additional cases that have been filed subsequent to the filing of this action: Leyva v. Taco Bell Corp., 1:09-cv-0200 and Naranjo v. Yum! Brands, Inc., 1:09-cv-00246. Plaintiffs also seek to consolidate Medlock v. Taco Bell Corp., 1:07-cv-1314.

The parties shall confer about a schedule for the filing of motions concerning the joinder and/or ...


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