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Garcia v. Superior Court (Southern Counties Express, Inc.)

California Court of Appeals, Second District, First Division

May 15, 2015

EDUARDO GARCIA, et al., Petitioners,
v.
THE SUPERIOR COURT OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Respondent SOUTHERN COUNTIES EXPRESS, INC., Real Party in Interest.

[As modified May 27 and June 3, 2015.]

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COUNSEL

Gilbert & Sackman, Joshua F. Young, Michael D. Weiner and Sean M. Kramer for Petitioners.

No appearance for Respondent.

Larson & Gaston and Victor J. Consentino for Real Party in Interest.

OPINION

CHANEY, J.

Petitioners Eduardo Garcia, Garcia Transportation GP, and Luis Torres-Garzon[1] seek relief from the April 25, 2014 order of respondent court (Michael P. Vicencia, Judge) granting the motion of real party in interest Southern Counties Express, Inc. to compel arbitration of Petitioners’ wage and hour complaints to the Labor Commissioner. We grant the requested relief in part and remand to the trial court with directions.

Background

Petitioners are truck drivers (sometimes called owner-operators) who were engaged by Southern Counties Express, Inc. (Southern Counties) to haul shipping containers from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to facilities throughout Southern California. When engaged by Southern Counties, and at 90-day intervals thereafter, each of the drivers signed an “Independent Contractor” agreement (consisting of 17 pages, with appendices); at less-frequent intervals they signed “Vehicle Lease” agreements (consisting of 12 pages). The independent contractor agreements provided that the contracting driver would use the specified truck to provide hauling services at Southern Counties's direction; the vehicle lease agreements provided that the contracting drivers would lease a specified truck from Southern Counties for that purpose. And (as required by federal regulations governing Southern Counties as an authorized interstate carrier), that Southern Counties will have “exclusive possession, use and control of the Equipment and shall assume

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complete responsibility for the operation thereof to the extent required by such regulation....” (See 49 C.F.R. §§ 376.11, 376.12(c)(1) (2014).) Each of the agreements contained provisions requiring the parties to ...


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