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In Re Taco Bell Wage and Hour Actions

August 30, 2011


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



Before the court is Taco Bell Corp.'s and Taco Bell of America, Inc.'s (together, "Defendants") motion to stay Plaintiffs' meal and rest break claims until the California Supreme Court resolves Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court, 165 Cal. App. 4th 25 (2008), review granted, 85 Cal. Rptr. 3d 688 (2008), and Brinkley v. Public Storage, Inc., 167 Cal.

App. 4th 1278 (2008), review granted, 87 Cal. Rptr. 3d 674 (2009). Doc. 250. Plaintiffs filed an opposition (Doc. 259), to which Defendants replied (Doc. 260). The motion was heard August 22, 2011.


This case is a consolidation of six related putative wage and hour class actions against Defendants: (1) Medlock v. Taco Bell Corp., Case No. 1:07-cv-01314; (2) Hardiman v. Taco Bell Corp., Case No. 1:08-cv-01081; (3) Leyva v. Taco Bell Corp., et al., Case No. 1:09-cv-00200; (4) Naranjo v. Yum! Brands, Inc., Case No. 1:09-cv-00246; (5) Widjaja v. Yum Brands, Inc., Case No. 1:09-cv-01074; and (6) Nave v. Taco Bell Corp., Case No. 1:10-cv-02222.

On December 30, 2010, Plaintiffs moved to certify a class action and eight proposed subclasses: (1) late meal break subclass; (2) underpaid automatic adjustment subclass; (3) on-duty meal period agreement subclass; (4) unpaid on-duty meal period subclass; (5) rest break subclass; (6) final pay subclass; (7) vested accrued vacation wage subclass; and (8) non-management employee vacation subclass. Doc. 185. Plaintiffs' first through fifth proposed subclasses relate to meal and rest break claims.

On March 14, 2011, Plaintiffs filed an amended motion for leave to file a First Amended Consolidated Complaint (Doc. 210), which was granted in part and denied in part (Doc. 222). Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Consolidated Complaint on May 17, 2011. Doc. 230. The First Amended Consolidated Complaint asserts proposed class action claims on behalf of California non-exempt, hourly restaurant employees of Taco Bell, including claims for missed meal breaks (Fourth Cause of Action), missed rest breaks (Fifth Cause of Action), failure to pay vested vacation wages (Eighth Cause of Action), and failure to timely pay wages upon termination (Ninth Cause of Action).

The hearing on the motion for class certification was held on July 6 and 7, 2011.


"[T]he power to stay proceedings is incidental to the power inherent in every court to control the disposition of the causes on its docket with economy of time and effort for itself, for counsel, and for litigants." Landis v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254, 57 S.Ct. 163 (1936). When considering a motion to stay, the court weighs the competing interests which will be affected by the grant or refusal of stay, including: (1) the possible damage which may result from granting the stay; (2) the hardship or inequity which a party may suffer in being required to go forward; and (3) the orderly course of justice measured in terms of simplifying or complicating issues, proof, and questions of law which could be expected to result from a stay. CMAX, Inc. v. Hall, 300 F.2d 265, 268 (9th Cir. 1962).*fn1

"A trial court may, with propriety, find it efficient for its own docket and the fairest course for the parties to enter a stay of an action before it, pending resolution of independent proceedings which may bear upon the case." Mediterranean Enters., Inc. v. Sangyong Corp., 708 F.2d 1458, 1465 (9th Cir. 1983) (quoting Leyva v. Certified Grocers of Cal., Ltd., 593 F.2d 857, 863-864 (9th Cir. 1979). For a stay to be appropriate it is not required that the issues of such proceedings are necessarily controlling of the action before the court. Id. Case management standing alone, however, is not necessarily a sufficient ground to stay proceedings. Dependable Highway Exp., Inc. v. Navigators Ins. Co., 498 F.3d 1059, 1066 (9th Cir. 2007). Stays should not be indefinite in nature, id., and should not be granted unless it appears likely the other proceedings will be concluded within a reasonable time. Leyva, 593 F.2d at 864.

The party moving for a stay bears the burden of establishing the need for a stay. Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681, 708 (1997); see also Landis, 299 U.S. at 255 ("the justice and wisdom" of a stay lays "heavily on the petitioners"). The party seeking the stay: must make out a clear case of hardship or inequity in being required to go forward, if there is even a fair possibility that the stay for which he prays will work damage to someone else. Only in rare circumstances will a litigant in ...

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