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Sandrika Medlock v. Hms Host Usa

December 15, 2010

SANDRIKA MEDLOCK,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
HMS HOST USA, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lawrence J. O'Neill United States District Judge

ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS, STAY OR TRANSFER PURSUANT TO "FIRST-TO-FILE" RULE

(Doc. 7.)

INTRODUCTION

Pursuant to the "first-to-file" rule, defendants Host International, Inc. ("Host International") and HMS Host USA, Inc. ("HMS") seek to dismiss, stay or transfer plaintiff Sandrika Medlock's ("Ms. Medlock's") class action alleging unpaid wage claims in that other class plaintiffs pursue similar unpaid wage claims in a fellow district court action. Ms. Medlock responds that defendants misapply the first-to-file rule and challenges the similarity of defendants and claims in the two actions and thus the supporting grounds to dismiss, stay or transfer this action. This Court considered Host International and HMS' (collectively "defendants'") alternative motion to dismiss, stay or transfer on the record and VACATES the December 21, 2010 hearing, pursuant to Local Rule 230(g). For the reasons discussed below, this Court TRANSFERS this action to the Central District of California.

BACKGROUND

First-Filed Batres Action On August 23, 2010, plaintiffs Cesar Batres and Maria Deperez (collectively the "Batres plaintiffs") filed, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, their class action complaint in Orange County Superior Court (the "Batres action"). The Batres action's original complaint ("Batres original complaint") alleged a class action on behalf of:

Plaintiffs and all employees, including but not limited to all employees not classified as "Exempt" or primarily employed in executive, professional, or administrative capacities (i.e. "Non-Exempt Employees") employed by, or formerly employed by, HMS HOST USA, INC., a Delaware Corporation, and any subsidiaries or affiliated companies . . . within the State of California.

The Batres original complaint alleged claims of:

1. Failure to pay wages and overtime to entitle recovery under California Labor Code sections 218.5, 1194 and 1199;

2. Failure to provide rest periods and compensation for non-provided rest periods to violate California Labor Code sections 226.7 and 512 and IWC Wage Order No. 5;

3. Deducting from wages payment for parking services without authorization to violate California Labor Code sections 221, 224 and IWC Wage Order No. 5;

4. Failure to timely pay wages due at termination to violate California Labor Code sections 201, 202 and 203;

5. Failure to provide itemized wage statements with deductions to violate California Labor Code sections 226(a) and 1174; and

6. Unfair business practices to violate the Unfair Competition Law ("UCL"), California Business and Professions Code sections 17200, et seq.

The Batres original complaint proposed a class composed of: All persons who are employed or have been employed by Defendants in the State of California who, within the liability period of the filing of this Complaint, have worked as a non-exempt employee and/or in any other similar position that did not consist of over 50% administrative, executive, or professional duties and were not paid all lawful wages, including, but not limited to, all regular time and/or overtime.

The Batres original complaint proposed subclasses composed of non-exempt current and former employees of "Defendants" who:

1. "[W]ere not timely paid all lawful wages, including, but limited to, all regular time and/or overtime";

2. "[H]ave not been provided a rest period for every four hours or major fraction thereof worked per day and were not provided compensation" and "not provided a meal period or a second meal period for each day in which such non-exempt employees worked in excess of five and/or ten hours and were not provided compensation of one hour for each day on which such rest and/or meal period was not provided"; and

3. "[W]ere not indemnified for illegal deductions/withholding incurred from one's wages." On September 27, 2010, the Batres action was removed to the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, where it remains.

After the filing of defendants' current motion, Central District U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney issued his December 9, 2010 order to permit the Batres plaintiffs to file their first amended complaint ("Batres FAC") to add Host International as a defendant. The Batres FAC alleges a class action on behalf of:

Plaintiffs and all employees, including but not limited to all employees not classified as "Exempt" or primarily employed in executive, professional, or administrative capacities (i.e. "Non-Exempt Employees") employed by, or formerly employed by, HMS HOST USA, INC., a Delaware Corporation, HOST INTERNATIONAL, INC., a Delaware Corporation, and any subsidiaries or affiliated companies (hereinafter "Defendants") within the State of California.

The Batres FAC alleges identical claims and proposes identical classes as the Batres original complaint with the exception of adding Host International as defendant and a private attorneys claim.

This Medlock Action

On September 15, 2010, Ms. Medlock filed on behalf of herself and "all persons similarly situated" her original class action complaint against defendants in Fresno County Superior Court (the "Medlock action"). On October 18, 2010, Ms. Medlock filed her operative First Amended Class Action Complaint ("Medlock FAC"), which alleges that defendants employed her as an "Admin Clerk" and "Admin HR Assistant," hourly ...


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