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Van Lith v. Iheartmedia Entertainment, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 25, 2016

KARL VAN LITH, Plaintiff,
v.
IHEARTMEDIA ENTERTAINMENT, INC., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER RE DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO DISMISS OR TO STRIKE (DOC. 23)

          LAWRENCE J. O’NEILL, UNITED STATES CHIEF DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. PRELIMINARY STATEMENT TO PARTIES AND COUNSEL

         Judges in the Eastern District of California carry the heaviest caseloads in the nation, and this Court is unable to devote inordinate time and resources to individual cases and matters. Given the shortage of district judges and staff, this Court addresses only the arguments, evidence, and matters necessary to reach the decision in this order. The parties and counsel are encouraged to contact the offices of United States Senators Feinstein and Boxer to address this Court’s inability to accommodate the parties and this action. The parties are required to reconsider consent to conduct all further proceedings before a Magistrate Judge, whose schedules are far more realistic and accommodating to parties than that of U.S. Chief District Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill, who must prioritize criminal and older civil cases.

         Civil trials set before Chief Judge O'Neill trail until he becomes available and are subject to suspension mid-trial to accommodate criminal matters. Civil trials are no longer reset to a later date if Chief Judge O'Neill is unavailable on the original date set for trial. Moreover, this Court's Fresno Division randomly and without advance notice reassigns civil actions to U.S. District Judges throughout the nation to serve as visiting judges. In the absence of Magistrate Judge consent, this action is subject to reassignment to a U.S. District Judge from inside or outside the Eastern District of California.

         II. INTRODUCTION

         Defendants iHeartMedia Entertainment, Inc., Capstar Radio Operating Company, and iHeartMedia (collectively, “Defendants”) move to dismiss Plaintiff Karl Van Lith’s two causes of action brought under California Labor Code § 226(a)[1] (“§ 226(a)”). Doc. 23 In the alternative, Defendants move to strike Plaintiff’s proposed class definition for the claims. Id.

         The Court took the matter under submission pursuant to Local Rule 230(g). Doc. 26. For the following reasons, the Court DENIES Defendants’ motion to dismiss, and GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART their motion to strike.

         III. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND[2]

         Plaintiff alleges he was hired in March 2013, and through September 2014 his wage statements listed his employer as both “Clear Channel” and “Capstar Radio Operating Co., ” whose address was “200 East Basse, San Antonio, TX 78209.” Doc. 1, Ex. B, Complaint (“Compl.”) at ¶¶ 17-21.

         Plaintiff further alleged that in September 2014, Clear Channel Communications, Inc. became iHeartMedia, Inc., and Clear Channel Broadcasting, Inc. became iHeartMedia Entertainment, Inc. Id. at ¶ 22. Plaintiff was informed of this change on September 16, 2014, via videoconference. Id.

         In July 2015, Plaintiff received a § 2810.5 “Notice to Employee, ” which listed Plaintiff’s employer as “iHeartMedia, ” whose address was “200 E. Basse, San Antonio, TX 78209.” Id. at ¶ 23. Plaintiff’s wage statements, however, continued to list his employer as “Capstar Radio Operating Company, ” whose address was “200 East Basse, San Antonio, TX 78209.” Id. at ¶¶ 22-23.

         In September 2015, Plaintiff’s employment ended. Id. at ¶ 26. His final wage statement listed his employer as “iHeartMedia, ” whose address was “P.O. Box 659512, San Antonio, TX 78265-9512.” Id. at ¶ 27. Documents provided to Plaintiff at the end of his employment list his employer as “iHeartMedia Entertainment, Inc., ” whose “Entity Address” is alleged to be “111 8th Ave, Floor 13, TX 78209” and whose address for its “Agent for Service of Process” is alleged to be “818 West Seventh St. Ste 930, Los Angeles, CA 90017.” Id. at ¶ 28.

         On December 7, 2015, Plaintiff brought this case against Defendants for their alleged violation of various California labor laws. See Doc. 1 at 16. Plaintiff alleged, among other things, that Defendants failed to provide accurate itemized wage statements to Plaintiff and other current and former employees in violation of § 226(a). See Id. at ¶¶ 23, 28. According to Plaintiff, “Defendants applied a uniform pay policy and, as such, the Labor Code violations alleged . . . also occurred with respect to other current and former employees and are ongoing.” Id. at ¶ 30.

         Plaintiff asserted various “Private Attorney General Act” (“PAGA[3]”) allegations, noting that PAGA permits him to bring a Labor Code violation claim on behalf of himself and other current or former employees of Defendants, as well as recover certain statutory penalties for each aggrieved employee. See, e.g., id. at ¶ 10. Plaintiff also brought, among other things, two claims under § 226(a).[4]Id. at ¶ 34. The basis for the claims is Plaintiff’s assertion that Defendants failed to provide and maintain accurate itemized wage statements to Plaintiff and the other current and former employees of Defendants.” Id. at ¶¶ 34, 38. For both claims, Plaintiff alleged that he “and the other current and former employees have been damaged

         . . . and request relief.” Id. at ¶¶ 35, 39. Plaintiff thus sought various damages “on behalf of himself and . . . on behalf of other current and former employees.” Id.

         Plaintiff filed a first amended complaint (“FAC”) on May 11, 2015. Doc. 22. In it, Plaintiff indicates that he now “seeks to maintain this action as a class action as to” his two § 226(a) causes of action, which are materially indistinguishable from those alleged in his original complaint. Id. at ¶ 48.

         Plaintiff’s proposed class consists of:

All current and former California employees of Defendants who received a wage statement from December 7, 2014, through the date of final judgment, which fails to accurately show the name and address of the legal entity that is the ...

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