Friday, April 18, 2014

Central District Reaffirms Meal Break Certification in Wang v. Chinese Daily News, Inc.

On April 15, 2014, the Hon. Consuelo B. Marshall reaffirmed the Court's January 20, 2005 certification order in Wang v. Chinese Daily News, Inc., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59597 (C.D. Cal. Apr. 15, 2014).  This case has had a rather lengthy and tortured appellate journey.  Subsequent to the Ninth Circuit affirming the entry of judgment in favor of the class in 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated and remanded the matter to the Ninth Circuit for further consideration in light of Dukes (as Wang also was certified under Rule 23(b)(2)), which resulted in the Ninth Circuit reversing certification and remanding in 2013 to reconsider based on Rule 23(b)(3).

Significantly, the District Court concluded that certification under Rule 23(b)(3) was appropriate because – based on current legal standards (as much has changed since 2005) – the issue of whether the defendant had satisfied its legal obligation to authorize a complete release of all duties for meal and rest periods was a common question which predominated as to the class as a whole:
Defendant argues that there is evidence that CDN did not "prevent" employees from taking meal and rest breaks. [] However, this is not the standard Plaintiffs must meet. Under California law, an employer must "relieve its employee[s] of all duty for an uninterrupted 30-minute period." Brinker, 273 P.3d at 536. The Ninth Circuit has further held that the legality of an employer's policy is a significant question of law supporting class certification. Abdullah, 731 F.3d at 963. Plaintiffs provide strong evidence demonstrating that putative class members were not provided meal or rest breaks. Defendant makes no showing that CDN allowed employees to take meal and rest breaks, much less provided such breaks. Further, Defendant's lack of a meal and break policy is a factual question that is common to the class under Rule 23(a), and resolution of this question will "drive the resolution of the litigation." Id. (quoting Wal-Mart, 131 S.Ct. at 2551). 
The holding in Brinker, particularly as analyzed by Abdullah, supports a finding of commonality and predominance under Rule 23. Therefore, upon consideration of contemporary California and federal case law, the Court reaffirms its decision to grant Plaintiffs' class certification under Rule 23(b)(3).
See Wang, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59597, at 21-22.

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