Thursday, July 1, 2010

New Wage Class Certification Opinion: Faulkinbury v. Boyd & Associates, Inc.

On June 24, 2010, the Fourth District (Division Three) in Faulkinbury v. Boyd & Associates, Inc., __ Cal.App.4th __ (2010) upheld a trial court order denying certification of meal and rest period claims. As reflected in the Court’s opinion, the underlying record was deemed distinguishable from that at issue in Bufil v. Dollar Financial Group, Inc., 162 Cal. App. 4th 1193, 1203 (2008), and the Second District’s recent decision in Jaimez v. Daiohs USA, Inc., 181 Cal.App.4th 1286 (2010), as individualized issues would predominate adjudicating defendant’s liability under the class proposed. From the discussion contained in the opinion, the ultimate failure of certification appears to center on a failure to tightly focus the class definition at the certification stage to the specific uniform facts and theories exposed. Slip Opinion, at __ (“in contrast to Bufil, Plaintiffs structured the case in a way that defines the Meal Break Class very broadly to include all Boyd security guard employees in the class period.”). In this regard, the opinion really presents little new, but in fact, mirrors the factual/procedural underpinnings of Bufil itself, wherein certification was also initially denied on the first go-round for this very reason. In my view, the  opinion really underscores the importance of critically examining and tightening your certification theory and class definion prior to certification.  In fact, following Bufil as a guide, I think some variant of this proposed class could still be certified utilizing a more narrowly framed definition and corresponding legal theory.

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