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Flordeliza Escano, Marila P. Maximo, Joel T. Catublas On Behalf of v. Kindred Healthcare Operating Company

January 12, 2012

FLORDELIZA ESCANO, MARILA P. MAXIMO, JOEL T. CATUBLAS ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
KINDRED HEALTHCARE OPERATING COMPANY, INC., A DELAWARE CORPORATION; KINDRED HEALTHCARE INC., A DELAWARE CORPORATION; SPECIALTY HOSPITALS OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, A BUSINESS FORM UNKNOWN, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dean D. Pregerson United States District Judge

ORDER DENYING IN PART AND GRANTING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT [Docket No. 60]

Presently before the court is Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment ("Motion"). Having reviewed the parties' moving papers and heard oral argument, the court denies the Motion in part, grants the Motion in part, and adopts the following Order.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs worked at various health care facilities in Southern California, allegedly operated by Defendants. On November 6, 2009, Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Complaint, alleging that Defendants violated various state wage-and-hour laws. Defendants filed this Motion on November 7, 2011, requesting summary judgment on Plaintiff Maximo's meal and rest period claims, and Plaintiffs' claim for violations of California Labor Code section 226.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate where "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in its favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986).

A genuine issue exists if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party," and material facts are those "that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Id. at 248. No genuine issue of fact exists "[w]here the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).

It is not enough for a party opposing summary judgment to "rest on mere allegations or denials of his pleadings." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 259. Instead, the nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings to designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. The "mere existence of a scintilla of evidence" in support of the nonmoving party's claim is insufficient to defeat summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252. "Credibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge [when he or she] is ruling on a motion for summary judgment." Id. at 255.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Rest Period Claim

Plaintiff Maximo ("Maximo") does not oppose Defendants' request for summary judgment on her rest period claim. (Pls.' Opp'n to Mot. ("Opp'n") at 2.) The court therefore grants Defendants' Motion on this cause of action.

B. Meal Period Claim

California Labor Code ("Labor Code") section 512(a) typically requires employers to "provid[e]" an "employee with a meal period of not less than 30 minutes," when the employee works for "a period of more than five hours" in a day. Employees are entitled to a second meal period if they work more than ten hours in a day, "except that if the total hours worked is no more than 12 hours, the second meal period may be waived by mutual consent of the employer and the employee." Id.; see also Cal. Code Regs. tit. 8, § 11050(11)(D) (stating that "employees in the health care industry who work shifts in excess of eight (8) total hours in a workday may voluntarily waive their right to one of their two meal periods," but that the waiver must be in writing and revocable).

Labor Code section 226.7 further provides that "[n]o employer shall require any employee to work during any [mandatory] meal . . . period," and that employers must pay an employee "one additional hour of pay at the employee's regular rate of compensation for each work day that the meal . . . period is not provided."*fn1 Id. § 226.7(a)-(b); see also Cal. Code Regs tit. 8, § 11050(11)(A) ("Unless the employee is relieved of all duty during a 30 minute meal period, the meal period shall be considered an 'on duty' meal period and counted as time worked. An 'on duty' meal period shall be permitted only when the nature of the work prevents an employee from being relieved of all duty and when by written agreement between the parties an on-the-job paid meal period is agreed to.").

Defendants contend that there is no dispute that their policies and practices comply with California's meal period requirements. (Mot. at 9-10.) In response, Plaintiffs argue that there are a number of genuine issues of material fact, including whether Defendants sometimes interrupted and shortened Maximo's meal periods by requiring her to return to work to attend to patient needs. (Opp'n at 3-4.) The court agrees with Plaintiffs.*fn2

In denying the existence of a genuine factual dispute, Defendants did not accurately characterize Maximo's deposition testimony. In relevant part, Maximo testified as follows:

Q. [Was there e]ver any time that somebody told you you had to come back early from your meal period?

A. Yes.

Q. How many times did that ...


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