The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Christina A. Snyder
Present: The Honorable CHRISTINA A. SNYDER
Catherine Jeang Sheri Kleeger N/A
Deputy Clerk Court Reporter / Recorder Tape No.
Attorneys Present for Plaintiffs: Attorneys Present for Defendants
Proceedings: DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STAY CASE (filed February 24, 2013)
INTRODUCTION & BACKGROUND
On June 13, 2012, plaintiffs Phillip Allen and Brian Calder filed suit against defendant Suntrek Tours, Inc. Dkt. No. 1. Plaintiffs, former group leaders for defendant's touring company, seek to bring a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., for failure to pay minimum and overtime wages.
Seven months prior, these same plaintiffs, represented by their same counsel, initiated a state court action against Suntrek in the Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Decl. of Joseph Miller Ex. A (Complaint for Allen and Calder v. Suntrek Tours, Inc., Case No. BC 462363). In this suit, plaintiffs also allege that Suntrek failed to pay minimum and overtime wages in accordance with California law, in addition to asserting various other claims for relief under California Labor law. Id. Defendant demurred to plaintiff's First Amended Complaint in this action, contending that California's wage and hour laws do not apply outside of California's borders. On January 30, 2012, the trial court overruled the demurrer, finding that plaintiffs properly stated a claim because at least some work occurred in California. Miller Decl. ¶ 5.*fn1 Plaintiffs thereafter filed the operative Second Amended Complaint in superior court on November 8, 2012 ("State Court SAC"). Id. ¶ 7. Defendant also notes the "extensive" discovery the parties have engaged in the state court action, including document exchange and a number of depositions of the named plaintiffs and defendant's representatives. See Miller Decl. ¶ 8.
Plaintiffs filed a motion for class certification in the state action on November 13, 2012. At present, this motion is expected to be heard in July 2013. Id. ¶ 7. Defendant maintains that plaintiffs seek to represent a class consisting of all of defendant's group leaders who led a tour anywhere in North America. See State Court SAC ¶ 3 ("this lawsuit focuses only on the Defendant's employees here in North America"); ¶ 27 (alleging that plaintiffs bring the action on behalf of all of defendant's group leaders "who worked for Defendants during the relevant time period"). In opposition, plaintiffs contend that the state court action seeks recovery only on behalf of those employees who performed work "either partly or exclusively within the territorial confines of California." Opp'n at 2. Neither party provides the Court with the proposed class definition set forth in plaintiffs' motion for certification, assuming such language exists.
As noted, the same plaintiffs filed this suit in federal court on June 13, 2012. Dkt. No. 1. Plaintiffs failed to serve defendant, however, and the Court issued an Order to Show Cause on January 25, 2013, why this case should not be dismissed for lack of prosecution. Dkt. No. 8. Plaintiffs thereafter served defendant and filed the operative First Amended Collective Action Complaint ("FAC") in this Court, substituting Peak DMC North America in place of Suntrek Tours, and also naming Intrepid Travel Proprietary Limited, an Australian company, as a defendant. Dkt. No. 13.*fn2
As with their state action, plaintiffs seek to represent tour, trip, and group leaders who led tours throughout North America. FAC ¶ 7. Plaintiffs allege that defendants have failed to pay minimum and overtime wages in violation of federal law. Id. ¶ 12. Under the authority of 29 U.S.C. § 216, plaintiffs bring their suit as a collective action on behalf of a class defined as "All Group leaders [however defined] employed by Defendants during. . . the past three years preceding the filing of the original Complaint herein up through the time of trial." FAC ¶ 17. ...