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Morales v. Leggett & Platt Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 5, 2018

Edgar Morales, Salvador Magaña, and Matthew Bagu, on behalf of themselves, the State of California, and all other similarly situated individuals, Plaintiffs,
v.
Leggett & Platt Incorporated, a Missouri Corporation, et al. Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION AND APPOINTMENT OF CLASS COUNSEL

          JOHN A MENDEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiffs Edgar Morales (“Morales”), Salvador Magaña (“Magaña”), and Matthew Bagu (“Bagu”) (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) move for class certification under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Mot., ECF No. 33; Mem., ECF No. 34. Defendants Leggett & Platt Incorporated (“Leggett”) and L&P Financial Services Co. (“L&P”) (collectively, “Defendants”) oppose Plaintiffs' motion. ECF No. 44. A hearing on this motion was held on February 27, 2018. For the reasons set forth below and stated at the hearing, the Court grants Plaintiffs' motion for class certification as to two purported subclasses, and denies the motion as to the remaining three purported subclasses.

         The Court also grants Plaintiffs' unopposed request regarding appointment of counsel and class representatives in this case.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Morales worked at Defendants' Tracy location (the “Tracy Branch”) from 2011-2014 as a forklift operator, peeler operator, and maintenance mechanic and was paid hourly. Decl. of Edgar Morales (“Morales Decl.”), ECF No. 33-47, ¶ 3. Plaintiff Magaña worked at the Tracy Branch from 2012-2014 as a maintenance mechanic and was paid hourly. Decl. of Salvador Magaña (“Magaña Decl.”), ECF No. 33-46, ¶ 3. Plaintiff Bagu worked at the Tracy Branch from 2013-2014 as a mold operator and was paid hourly. Decl. of Matthew Bagu (“Bagu Decl.”), ECF No. 33-48, ¶ 3.

         On April 28, 2015, Plaintiffs Morales and Magaña filed their initial Complaint against Defendant Leggett in San Joaquin County Superior Court. Pls. Class Action Compl., ECF No. 1-1. On July 22, 2015, Plaintiffs Morales and Magaña and additional Plaintiff Bagu added Defendant L&P as a second defendant and filed a First Amended Complaint (the “FAC”), seeking to proceed under the California Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) and alleging Defendants violated state wage and hour laws by failing to pay minimum wage; failing to pay overtime compensation; failing to provide meal and rest breaks; unlawfully deducting wages of employees; knowingly and intentionally failing to maintain and provide accurate wage statements; failing to produce or permit inspection of records; failing to timely pay wages due at termination; and failing to indemnify employees for work expenses. FAC, ECF No. 1-2, ¶¶ 16, 108. Plaintiffs also alleged that Defendants violated California's Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”). Id., ¶¶ 106-114.

         Defendants removed Plaintiffs' claims to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d), on September 10, 2012. Not. of Removal, ECF No. 1, at 1-2. On November 6, 2017, Plaintiffs filed their Motion for Class Certification and brief in support.

         After the February 27, 2018 hearing on this motion, Plaintiffs filed a Notice of Subsequent Relevant Authority (ECF No. 49) and Defendants responded. ECF No. 50.

         II. OPINION

         A. Proposed Subclasses

         Plaintiffs seek to certify the following five subclasses:

         1. The Revision Zone Class

         All nonexempt hourly employees who worked at the Tracy Branch between April 28, 2011 and November 14, 2014 and whose time was recorded using the Amano timekeeping system and experienced time shaving as a result of the Revision Zone programming in the Amano timekeeping system. Mot. 2-3.

         2. Doubletime Class

         All non-exempt hourly employees who have worked at Defendants' Ontario location (the “Ontario Branch”) and the Tracy Branch between April 28, 2011 and the present and had a shift of more than eight hours on a seventh consecutive workday in a workweek. Mot. at 4.

         3. 30 Minute Auto-Deduction Class

         All non-exempt hourly employees who have worked at the Tracy Branch, and all factory non-exempt hourly employees who have worked at the Ontario Branch between April 28, 2011 and the present who had 30 minutes of pay automatically deducted for meal periods without a corresponding time entry showing that an unpaid meal period was recorded. Mot. at 4-5.

         4. Meal Period Premium Class

         All factory non-exempt hourly employees who (1) have worked at the Ontario and Tracy Branches between April 28, 2011 and the present, (2) have recorded untimely or short meal periods during shifts greater than six hours, or have worked more than 10 hours without recording a second meal period, and (3) have not received a meal period premium. Mot. at 5-6.

         5. Uniform Deduction Class

         All non-exempt employees who worked at the Ontario and Tracy Branches between April 28, 2011 and the present and had deductions on their wage statements (appearing in payroll as code 870) for maintenance of their work uniform. Mot. at 6.

         Plaintiffs' initially sought class certification of a sixth subclass, i.e. the Mechanics Class, but confirmed at the hearing on this motion that they had abandoned it. Mot. at 6; see Reply, ECF No. 45.

         B. Discussion

         Under Rule 23(a), a plaintiff seeking to certify a class must show that “(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable; (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.” The plaintiff must then satisfy one of the three Rule 23(b) categories. In the instant case, the parties focus on the “predominance” and “superiority” category under Rule 23(b)(3).

         Failure to satisfy any element of Rule 23(a) or 23(b) requires denying class certification. Rutledge v. Electric Hose & Rubber Co., 511 F.2d 668, 673 (9th Cir. 1975).

         1. Numerosity

         Numerosity requires that the class be “so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a)(1). Defendants do not challenge Plaintiffs' satisfaction of this requirement for any of the purported classes and the Court finds Plaintiffs satisfy the numerosity requirement for all five purported subclasses. See Opp.

         2. Ascertainability

         “As a threshold matter, and apart from the explicit requirements of Rule 23(a), the party seeking class certification must demonstrate that an identifiable and ascertainable class exists.” Backhaut v. Apple Inc., 2015 WL 4776427, at *9 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 13, 2015) (quoting Sethavanish v. ZonePerfect Nutrition Co., No. 12-2907, 2014 WL 580696 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 13, 2014)). “A class definition should be ‘precise, objective, and presently ascertainable, ' that is the class must be ‘definite enough that it is administratively feasible for the court to ascertain whether an individual is a member.'” Roth v. CHA Hollywood Medical Center, L.P., No. 2:12-cv-07559, 2013 WL 5775129, at *4 (C.D. Cal., Oct. 25, 2013) (quoting O'Connor v. Boeing N. Am., Inc., 184 F.R.D. 311, 319 (C.D. Cal. 1998)).

         3. Commonality

         Commonality requires Plaintiffs to affirmatively show “that the class members have suffered the same injury.” Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 564 U.S. 338, 349-50 (2011) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The class's common contention must be “capable of class-wide resolution.” Id. “Dissimilarities within the proposed class” impede the commonality requirement because they prevent the formation of “even a single common question.” Id. at 350, 359.

         4. Typicality

         Rule 23(a)(3) requires that the claims or defenses of the class representative “be typical of the claims or defenses of the class.” “A class representative must be part of the class and possess the same interest and suffer the same injury as the class members.” Dukes, 131 S.Ct. at 2550 (citation omitted). Representative parties' claims are “typical” when each class member's claim arises from the same course of events, and each class member makes similar legal arguments to prove the defendants' liability. A ...


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