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Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1309 v. Laidlaw Transit Services

February 11, 2010

AMALGAMATED TRANSIT UNION LOCAL 1309, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
LAIDLAW TRANSIT SERVICES, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION

RE: FIRST TRANSIT [Doc. No. 186]

Currently before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification with respect to Defendant First Transit, Inc ("First Transit"). [Doc. No. 186]. First Transit filed an opposition, and Plaintiffs replied. [Doc. Nos. 192, 193]. Having considered the parties' arguments, and for the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES the motion for class certification.

BACKGROUND

I. Factual Background

This action concerns Defendants First Transit and Laidlaw Transit Services, Inc.'s ("Laidlaw") operation of fixed route bus services in and around the City of El Cajon, California, from about April 12, 2001. According to Plaintiffs, Defendant First Transit operated the El Cajon bus yard from April 12, 2001 to September 30, 2001, and Defendant Laidlaw operated the El Cajon bus yard from October 1, 2001 to approximately January 27, 2007.When Laidlaw took over the operation of the El Cajon bus yard, it hired First Transit's operators to continue driving the bus routes.*fn1

Defendants contracted with San Diego Metropolitan Transit System ("MTS") to operate fixed route bus services for the City of El Cajon. MTS allegedly established both the path and schedule for each route. Every three to six months, MTS created a new set of bus route schedules for the El Cajon facility. The schedules determined the number of routes Defendants serviced, the number of buses operated on each route, and the number of drivers employed. During the time that it operated the El Cajon facility, First Transit employed somewhere between 100 and 150 drivers to staff the routes. Laidlaw, for its part, employed more than 400 drivers.

Both First Transit and Laidlaw allegedly used the MTS schedules to create driver shifts, which they incorporated into driver bid packages. Each bid package included specific days, times, and routes the driver would work. The bid packages included either "split shifts" or "straight shifts." A driver working a split shift worked one paid shift, followed by an unpaid period, followed by a second paid shift. A driver working a straight shift drove continuously without breaks. Drivers bid on the packages based on seniority. Most routes included scheduled "recovery time," which is time built into the schedule to accommodate delays. Scheduled recovery time varied between five minutes and twenty minutes, but did not necessarily reflect actual recovery time on any given day.

Plaintiffs allege that none of the drivers were permitted to take a 30 minute meal period after 5 consecutive hours of work, or a 10 minute rest period after 3.5 consecutive hours of work. Rather, as part of the bidding process, drivers signed "on-duty" meal period agreements in which they agreed to take their meals on the job in exchange for compensation. However, Plaintiffs allege that none of the drivers were paid any compensation for the missed meal and rest periods.

II. Procedural History

Plaintiffs commenced this action on April 12, 2005, by filing a complaint in the Superior Court for the County of San Diego. The action was removed to this Court on June 9, 2005. The complaint alleges that Defendants violated various provisions of the California Labor Code and Wage Order 9*fn2 by failing to provide compliant meal and/or rest periods to their drivers. Further, Plaintiffs allege violations of California's Unfair Competition Law ("UCL"). Plaintiffs seek unpaid wages, penalties pursuant to the Labor Code and Wage Order 9, and restitution pursuant to the UCL.

By orders filed November 18, 2005, the Court granted in part and denied in part First Transit's and Laidlaw's motions to strike. [See Doc. Nos. 67, 68]. The Court ordered stricken from the complaint allegations brought under Sections 1194 and 1194.2 of the Labor Code with respect to both Defendants, and under Section 2699 with respect to First Transit only. Defendants subsequently answered, and the case was stayed on several occasions while the issues of applicable statutes of limitation were being considered by the California Supreme Court. [See Doc. Nos. 98, 101, 105, 107].

On March 12, 2008, the Court ordered that any motion for class certification must be filed on or before August 1, 2008. [Doc. No. 130]. On July 21, 2008, the Court continued that date to September 9, 2008. [Doc. No. 135]. On September 9, 2008, Plaintiffs filed their first motion for class certification, which referred only to Defendant Laidlaw. [Doc. No. 136]. On February 2, 2009, the Court certified the class with respect to Defendant Laidlaw, appointed a class representative, and appointed the firm of Neyhart, Anderson, Flynn & Grosboll ("Neyhart Anderson") as class counsel. [Doc. No. 152]. The Court certified as a class:

All bus operator employees of Defendant Laidlaw, driving bus routes associated with San Diego Metropolitan Transit System in or around the City of El Cajon, California, at anytime between October 1, 2001 and January 27, 2007, in a unit presently represented for purposes of collective bargaining by Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1309. [Id.] On July 28, 2009, upon joint motion from the parties, the Court substituted named plaintiffs Ronald Duncan, Michele Boswell, and John Taylor in place of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1309 as class representatives. [Doc. No. 177]. Subsequently, Plaintiffs and Defendant Laidlaw filed cross-motions for summary judgment ("cross-MSJs"). On August 10, 2009, the Court granted in part and denied in part those motions. [Doc. No. 178].

On November 4, 2009, Plaintiffs filed an Ex Parte Application seeking leave to file the instant motion for supplemental class certification, this time with regard to Defendant First Transit. [Doc. No. 182]. Having concluded that no prejudice would result to First Transit from allowing Plaintiffs to file their supplemental motion, the Court granted the Ex Parte Application.

In the instant motion, Plaintiffs seek to either amend the original class definition, or to certify an additional class, so as to cover those employees who worked for Defendant First Transit from April 12, 2001 to September 30, 2001. (Pl. Motion, at 2 [Doc. No. 186].). Thus, if the class definition is amended, it will read as follows:

All bus operator employees of Defendants Laidlaw or First Transit, driving bus routes associated with San Diego Metropolitan Transit System in or around the City of El Cajon, California, at anytime between April 12, 2001 and January 27, 2007, in a unit presently represented for purposes of collective bargaining by Amalgamated Transit Union Local ...


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