A class action is a type of lawsuit in which one or several persons sue on behalf of a larger group of persons. Many class action lawsuits are often started as the result of complaints by one or a handful of persons. While the subject matter of class action lawsuits can vary widely, two factors are almost always present for every class action: (1) the issues in dispute (factual and/or legal) are common to all members of the class, and (2) the persons affected are so numerous as to make it impracticable to bring them all before the court. If the court agrees to certify the case as a class action, that means the court agrees the case meets the criteria for class certification. A decision to certify the class action allows the case to move forward to trial in order to efficiently resolve the common issues shared by the class members.
We often provide our class action services on a contingency fee basis. This means that we are not paid unless we are successful in obtaining a recovery on behalf of the class members. If we are successful, we will petition the court for an award of attorneys’ fees and reimbursement of expenses from the recovery. How much we receive is up to the court.
Robert Boulter has been class counsel in four certified class actions:
- Pierce v SPX, California Superior Court for Alameda County Case No. : H194779 involved assertion of employee rights under California Labor Code section 2802 and Business and Professions Code sections 17200 et seq. In addition to a cash settlement of $1.5 million for the certified class, the Defendant changed its business practices to conform to the requirements under the Labor Code. Ultimately, approximately 88% of the approximately 288 actual class members participated in the settlement, a very high rate of participation in class actions.
- Kerr v Snap-on, California Superior Court for Santa Clara County Case No. CV758116 involved the assertion of employee rights under California Labor Code sections 2802 and 227.5 and Business and Professions Code sections 17200 et seq. This case involved numerous appellate proceedings. Each of the 330 members of the certified class had signed arbitration clauses (with varying terms) in adhesion contracts of employment. Defendant sought to have each class member arbitrate individually but Plaintiffs succeeded in having class wide arbitration approved by the Superior Court. Defendant filed writ petitions to the District Court of Appeals and the California Supreme Court seeking to overturn the decision of the trial court certifying the class and authorizing class wide arbitration. Plaintiffs successfully argued that both petitions be denied. Plaintiffs then obtained favorable summary judgment on liability after which the case settled. In addition to a settlement of $8.4 million in cash, the Defendant changed its business practices to conform to requirements of the Labor Code and agreed to prospective relief for vacation pay for current employee class members. Ultimately, approximately 90% of the 330 actual class members participated in the settlement, again a high participation rate for class actions.
- Ramsdell v LensCrafters, N.D. Cal. Case No. C 03-2652 JW (HRL) involved the assertion of employee rights under California’s overtime laws on behalf of allegedly misclassified store managers. This case involved appellate proceedings before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Each of the 600 class members had signed arbitration clauses (with varying terms) in adhesion contracts of employment. Defendant sought to have each class member arbitrate individually but Plaintiff succeeded in completely striking down the arbitration requirement before the District Court. Defendant appealed the order denying its motion to compel arbitration and the Ninth Circuit affirmed the order denying arbitration. Click here for a copy of the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Ramsdell. Plaintiff ultimately obtained a favorable settlement of $2.4 million on behalf of the class.
- Reynolds v. Earl Scheib, California Superior Court for Los Angeles County Superior Court Case No. BC226353. On March 13, 2000, Plaintiff filed a class action alleging that Scheib improperly classified about 450 employees as exempt and denied them overtime compensation in violation of California Labor § 1194, and the Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”), Cal. Business & Professions §§17200, et seq, and made unlawful deductions from their pay. The case was heavily litigated and required numerous appellate proceedings including a reported decision before the California Supreme Court in Reynolds v. Bement (2005) 36 Cal. 4th 1075. Click here for a copy of the Supreme Court’s decision in Reynolds. Ultimately, the case was resolved on a class-wide basis for $750,000.