United States District Court, C.D. California
SHARON POLE, individually, and on behalf of other members of the putative class, and on behalf of aggrieved employees pursuant to the Private Attorney General Act “PAGA”, Plaintiff,
ESTENSON LOGISTICS, LLC, a Nevada limited liability company, Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION [DKT.
D. PREGERSON United States District Judge
before the Court is Plaintiff Sharon Pole’s Motion for
Class Certification. (Dkt. 15.) After considering the
parties’ submissions and hearing oral argument, the
Court adopts the following Order.
case arises out of an employee classification dispute between
Plaintiff Sharon Pole and her former employer, Defendant
Estenson Logistics, LLC (“Estenson”). Estenson is
a third-party trucking company that moves product for its
customers from distribution centers to retail stores located
in California. (Plaintiff’s Appendix of Evidence
(“PA”) 6-7 (Deposition of Michelle Alexander
12:2-15:5).) Plaintiff was formerly employed by Estenson as a
“Fleet Manager.” (Complaint ¶ 14.) Plaintiff
brings this action on the grounds that Estenson misclassified
her as an “exempt” employee and paid her on a
salary basis, without any compensation for overtime hours
worked and missed meal periods or rest breaks. (Id.
present motion, Plaintiff seeks to certify the following
class under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3):
All current and former California-based salaried “Fleet
Managers, ” or persons who held similar job titles
and/or performed similar job duties, who worked for Estenson
within the State of California from September 6, 2010 to
for Class Certification (“Mot.”) 1.) The gravamen
of Plaintiff’s class certification theory is that
“Estenson misclassified her and other Fleet Managers as
exempt because their job duties fail to satisfy any of the
requirements for the executive or administrative
exemptions.” (Id. 1.)
operates out of approximately forty-six distribution centers
in California, some of which operate 24 hours a day.
(Declaration of Michelle Alexander ¶ 2; Alexander Dep.
26:10-17.) Each location is overseen by a single Site
Manager. (Alexander Dep. 89:21-24.) The site mangers are
“ultimately . . . responsible for the operations of
each facility.” Each facility also employs
administrative staff, drivers, and yard hostlers.
(Id. 23:21-24:5.) At eleven of these facilities,
Estenson employs “Fleet Managers.” (Id.
15:16-16:3.) These facilities are located across California.
(Id. 18:7-19 (noting facilities from Redlands, CA in
the south to Tracy, CA in the north).) Based on the size of
operations, a location can have anywhere from one to five
Fleet Managers employed at any given time. (Alexander Decl.
¶ 4.) During her employment, Plaintiff was one of two
Fleet Managers at the Lathrop, CA location.
(Plaintiff’s Dep. 73:10-11.)
Fleet Manager’s Responsibilities
to Estenson’s 2013 Fleet Manager job description, the
position’s responsibilities include ensuring loads are
delivered on time, investigating complaints, ensuring company
safety policies are understood, assisting in safety
inspections and trainings, and filing paperwork generated by
shipping activities. (See PA 140-141.) Other
versions of the job description include tasks such as
enforcing rules and company policies, ensuring safety and
compliance, internal and external customer service, HR
related tasks like hiring and training, scheduling, billing,
complying with reporting requirements, and assisting the site
manager. (See PA 135-138.) Estenson has confirmed
that these job duties apply to all Fleet Managers and are not
site-specific. (Alexander Dep. 58:4-8.)
asserts that, on a day-to-day basis, Fleet Managers are
primarily responsible for dispatching truck drivers, data
entry, and taking calls. (PA 190 (Allen Decl. ¶ 4.); PA
193-14 (Dorado Decl. ¶ 6); PA 196 (Elliot Decl. ¶
5); PA 199-200 (Jones Decl. ¶ 6); PA 202 (Taylor Decl.
¶ 5); PA 205 (Thompson Decl. ¶ 5.).) Fleet Managers
create “route packets” based on a load planners
assessment of how to arrange a customer’s delivery
requests and give these packets to drivers, along with their
keys. (Alexander Dep. 26:22-27:24; 61:18-64:25.) Fleet
Managers also collect paperwork submitted by truck drivers
and input into Estenson’s computer system. (Alexander
Dep. 73:16-24.) Furthermore, Fleet Managers handle all
in-bound truck driver calls, including accident and
maintenance reports. (Alexander Dep. 199:5-7; 92:5-97:6.)
Some Fleet Managers were also given a “checklist”
that memorializes many of these duties. (PA 143-44; PA 101-02
(Towell Depo. 75:6-76:2.)
elaborates on this account of a Fleet Manager’s duties
by noting additional responsibilities. For example, Estenson
describes the specific considerations a Fleet Manager might
accoutn for when deciding how to assign a particular driver
to a delivery route. (Alexander Dep. 36:6-37:9; 46:16-19.)
Estenson also notes the various responsibilities involved in
responding to customer complaints or handling other customer
inquiries. (Suarez Decl. ¶¶ 10-11.) While Estenson
describes some commonalities in the Fleet Manager role, it
also elaborates on the differences. For instance, Estenson
explains that larger facilities with more drivers have
divided responsibilities among multiple Fleet Managers--with
some handling loan planning and billing and others focusing
on driver communications--while smaller facilities will have
only a single Fleet Manager who is responsible for a broader
range of responsibilities. (Towell Dep. 76:3-77:14.)
Classification of Fleet Managers as Exempt
basis of Plaintiff’s suit is that Estenson
misclassifies its Fleet Managers as exempt. (Alexander Dep.
28:4-12.) As exempt employees, Estenson does not pay overtime
to its Fleet Managers when they work longer than eight hours
a day or forty hours a week. (Alexander Dep. 122:13-124:1.)
Estenson also does not provide its Fleet Managers with meal
and rest breaks. (Towell Dep. 59:22-60:3.) According to
Plaintiff, Fleet Managers routinely work longer than eight
hours and did not take lunch or rest breaks. (Towell Dep.
21:4-12; PA 191 (Allen Decl. ¶ 7); PA 194 (Dorado Decl.
¶ 9); PA 118 (Pole Dep. 104:1-18); PA 191 (Allen Decl.
¶ 8.).) Defendants acknowledge that Fleet Managers are
not entitled to overtime and do not receive scheduled meal
and rest breaks but submit evidence that some Fleet Managers
have taken lunch breaks. (Suarez Decl. ¶ 15; Towell Dep.
party seeking class certification bears the burden of showing
that each of the four requirements of Rule 23(a) and at least
one of the requirements of Rule 23(b) are met. See Meyer
v. Portfolio Recovery Assocs., LLC, 707 F.3d 1036, 1041
(9th Cir. 2012); Hanon v. Dataprods. Corp., 976 F.2d
497, 508-09 (9th Cir. 1992). In determining whether to
certify a class, a court must conduct a “rigorous
analysis” to determine whether the party seeking
certification has met the prerequisites of Rule 23 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Valentino v.
Carter-Wallace, Inc., 97 F.3d 1227, 1233 (9th Cir.
1996). Rule 23(a) sets forth four prerequisites for class
(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is
(2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class;
(3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are
typical of the claims or defenses of the class; and
(4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately
protect the interests of the class.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a); see also Hanon, 976 F.2d at
508. These four requirements are often referred to as (1)
numerosity, (2) commonality, (3) typicality, and (4)
adequacy. See General Tel. Co. v. Falcon, 457 U.S.
147, 156 (1982).
determining the propriety of a class action, the question is
not whether the plaintiff has stated a cause of action or
will prevail on the merits, but rather whether the
requirements of Rule 23 are met. Eisen v. Carlisle &
Jacquelin, 417 U.S. 156, 178 (1974). This Court,
therefore, considers the merits of the underlying claim to
the extent that the merits overlap with the Rule 23(a)
requirements, but will not conduct a “mini-trial”
or determine at this stage whether Plaintiffs could actually
prevail. Ellis v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 657 F.3d
970, 981, 983 n.8 (9th Cir. 2011); see also Wal-Mart
Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 564 U.S. 338, 131 S.Ct. 2541,
23(b) defines different types of classes. Leyva v.
Medline Indus. Inc., 716 F.3d 510, 512 (9th Cir. 2012).
Relevant here, Rule 23(b)(3) requires that “questions
of law or fact common to class members predominate over
individual questions . . . and that a class action is
superior to other available methods for fairly and
efficiently adjudicating the controversy.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
Rule 23(a) Prerequisites
that class certification is warranted, Plaintiffs must show
that all four prerequisites ...