A case in Florida is a classic example of protecting the powerful from regular people.
In Roberts v. Angelfish Swim School, Inc., the defendant, the interim secretary of state is arguing that to take part in a class action lawsuit, a potential class member must prove that he or she can individually fund the entire litigation for the entire class.
In our wage and hour class actions, we regularly represent common working folks who have been shorted on their pay. We invest ten of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars in hard costs for experts, document copying, etc., plus attorney and staff time that can easily run into the millions. When we prevail, large groups of employees receive back pay or other compensation and we earn a fair fee. A working class plaintiff, for that matter, anyone outside of the moneyed class, simply can’t shoulder the burden. It’s hard enough for us lawyers, not too many of us can take on the risk of these cases.
The Supreme Court heard oral argument Tuesday on a challenge to the certification of a class-action lawsuit on behalf of female employees against the giant retailer Wal-Mart.
This is an important case. We are all waiting to see how the Supreme Court treats class actions in the context of gender discrimination.
In a bill sponsored by Senator Charles Schumer, all rental cars must remain parked until they are fixed. He went on to state:
“Rental car companies should be immediately barred from renting cars that would be pulled from showrooms and car dealer lots because of safety recall concerns….This is a serious public safety issue and, tragically, we have already seen the grave and devastating consequences of inaction. This bill is just plain common sense – rental car companies should not be in the business of renting cars that pose serious risks to drivers and passengers. We need to keep these cars off roads until they are fixed, and the Safe Rental Car Act will make sure that’s exactly what happens.”
The proposed Senate Bill is just common sense.
In California, rental car companies already have a duty to only rent safe vehicles. In the event of a recall, the rental company will receive notice, just like any other owner and is obliged to take care of the problem so that the known defect does not cause injury to an innocent renter.
Juries, on the other hand, are business’ conscience.
Last week a California federal judge shot down a motion for class certification in an overtime suit against Lockheed Martin Corp., saying that the proposed class of industrial security representatives was too diverse in their actual duties to be certified.
Judge Michael M. Anello wrote the order denying class certification. He based his decision primarily on the plaintiffs’ inability to meet the FRCP Rule 23(b) requirement that common issues predominate.
Basically, plaintiffs argued all putative class members were public safety employees who were entitled to overtime. Judge Anello wasn’t convinced. He found that the plaintiffs hadn’t put on evidence that all the putative class members were engaged in the same type of work. He then focused on defendant’s argument that each putative class member had different job duties depending on which project they were assigned to in denying certification.
The lesson is, do your discovery on Rule 23 criteria early and thoroughly. Plaintiffs have the burden and, if you forget that fact, the judge will happily remind you.