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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Court of Appeal Rejects Demurrer to Wage and Hour Class Allegations

In Gutierrez v. California Commerce Club, Inc. (August 2, 2010, pub. ordered August 23, 2010) --- Cal.App.4th ---, 2010 WL 2991875, the Second District Court of Appeal reversed a trial court order (Los Angeles, J. Munoz) sustaining a demurrer to a wage and hour class action complaint:
Sergio Gutierrez and Hector Salazar filed the operative third amended class action complaint against California Commerce Club, Inc. (Club), alleging, among other things, that they and other similarly situated members of the putative class were injured by the Club's unlawful policy and practice of denying meal and rest breaks to certain hourly, non-union employees. The trial court sustained the Club's demurrer without leave to amend, on the ground the plaintiffs had failed to show the existence of a class, and dismissed the action as to all representative claims. We reverse. In this action, as in the vast majority of wage and hour disputes, class suitability should not be determined on demurrer.
Slip op. at 1.
[T]he operative pleading here does not demonstrate that individual issues affecting the Club's liability will likely predominate. There is no discernible difference between this action and the wage and hour cases (or their type) at issue in Prince and, more recently, in Tarkington. As we explained in Prince and reiterated in Tarkington, such cases routinely proceed as class actions because they usually involve a single set of facts applicable to all members, and one question of law common to class members. As long as the lead plaintiff alleges institutional practices ... that affected all of the members of the potential class in the same manner, and it appears from the complaint that all liability issues can be determined on a class-wide basis, no more is required at the pleading stage.
Slip op. at 6 (internal quotations, citations removed). The decision is available here.

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