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Falk v. Children's Hospital Los Angeles

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Third Division

June 3, 2015

MICHELLE FALK, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL LOS ANGELES, Defendant and Respondent.

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County No. BC496720, Jane L. Johnson, Judge.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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COUNSEL

The Gold Firm, Steven Bruce Gold; Law Office of Joseph Antonelli, Joseph Antonelli, Janelle Carney and Jason Hatcher for Plaintiff and Appellant.

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Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, Derek R. Havel, Daniel J. McQueen, Marlene M. Nicolas, Matthew A. Tobias; Ballard Rosenberg Golper & Savitt and Linda Miller Savitt for Defendant and Respondent.

OPINION

ALDRICH, J.

INTRODUCTION

The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of defendant and respondent Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (Children’s Hospital or the hospital) and against plaintiff and appellant Michelle Falk on the ground her wage and labor claims were time-barred. The court rejected Falk’s argument the filing of a prior class action tolled her limitations periods, under American Pipe & Construction Co. v. Utah (1974) 414 U.S. 538 [38 L.Ed.2d 713, 94 S.Ct. 756] (American Pipe), which held that, under certain circumstances, the filing of a class action tolls a limitations period for class members who file subsequent actions. We find that American Pipe tolling applies to some of Falk’s claims, but not to others. We therefore affirm in part and reverse in part the judgment.

BACKGROUND

I. The class action complaints.

Since May 2007, four class action complaints, including Falk’s, have been filed against Children’s Hospital raising wage and labor violations.

A. May 1, 2007: The Palazzolo class action.[1]

Children’s Hospital employed Thomas Palazzolo from July 2005 to January 2007 as a non-exempt, hourly paid patient care service aide. On May 1, 2007, Palazzolo filed a class action complaint on behalf of “[a]ll non-exempt or hourly paid persons.” The complaint asserted these causes of action:

(1) Violation of Labor Code sections 510, 511, and 1198[2] for unpaid overtime: plaintiff and class members worked more than eight hours per day,

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12 hours per day or 40 hours per week without overtime compensation. “[I]ncentives in the form of shift differentials” were not incorporated in overtime.

(2) Violation of sections 201 and 202 for failure to pay wages upon termination: the hospital failed to pay earned and unearned wages at the time of discharge or within 72 hours of an employee leaving.

(3) Violation of section 204 for failure to pay wages: the hospital failed to pay wages on regular paydays.

(4) Violation of sections 226.7, subdivision (b), and 512, subdivision (a), for denial of meal periods: plaintiffs were required to work without meal periods and were not compensated for work performed during meal periods.

(5) Violation of section 226.7, subdivision (b), for denial of rest periods: plaintiffs were required to work without compensation during rest periods.

(6) Violation of section 226, subdivision (a), for improper wage statements: the hospital failed to provide “complete and accurate wage statements that include” the “total number of hours worked” and employees' Social Security numbers.

(7) Violation of section 221 seeking repayment of wages to employer: the hospital deducted from wages “parking fees and ID deposits” without obtaining prior written authorization.

(8) Violation of section 2802 seeking indemnification for employee’s expenses: the hospital failed to reimburse “necessary business-related expenses, ” including parking fees and ID deposits. “Specifically, [the hospital] had, and continue[s] to have, a policy and practice of requiring employees... to pay for parking fees and ID deposits out of their own funds” and not reimbursing them.

(9) Conversion and theft of labor: the hospital refused to pay wages due on the next payday after wages were earned.

(10) Violation of the unfair competition law (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17200 et seq.).

Summary judgment was entered in the hospital’s favor on April 7, 2009. The trial court ruled on the merits that there were no triable issues of material fact. Class claims and class certification were never addressed.

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We affirmed the judgment. (Palazzolo v. Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (Dec. 1, 2010, B216508) [nonpub. opn.].) Class certification was also not raised or addressed in the appeal. The remittitur issued on February 3, 2011.

B. January 27, 2012: The Mays class action.[3]

Denise Mays, a registered nurse, worked for Children’s Hospital as a “non-exempt hourly employee.” She began working for the hospital in September ...


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