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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Leyva v. Medline Industries: Ninth Circuit Holds that Individual Damage Calculations Do Not Defeat Certification

In Leyva v. Medline Industries, Inc., ___ F.3d ___ (9th Cir. 5/28/13), the plaintiffs sued their employer, alleging that it failed to compensate its hourly employees for all hours worked, failed to calculate their overtime rates of compensation properly, failed to pay all earned wages on separation, and failed to provide timely and accurate wage statements.  The district court denied certification, and the Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that the district court abused its discretion in concluding that (1) individual questions predominated over common questions, and (2) class certification was not superior to other means of resolving the dispute. 
The district court applied the wrong legal standard by concluding that individual questions predominate over common questions. The only individualized factor that the district court identified was the amount of pay owed. “In this circuit, however, damage calculations alone cannot defeat certification.” 
Slip op. at 7-9.  

The district court incorrectly held that class certification was not the superior method of adjudication because of the difficulty of managing the approximately 500 member class and determining the putative class members' damages.  The district court failed to suggest any other means for putative class members to adjudicate their claims, and the Ninth Circuit held, "it appears that none exist."  
In light of the small size of the putative class members’ potential individual monetary recovery, class certification may be the only feasible means for them to adjudicate their claims. 
Slip op. at 9-11.

The opinion is available here.  

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