Los Angeles, CA — July 2012
Lee Tran & Liang (“LTL”) is proud to announce that it achieved a significant and unusual victory in defending its client against a wage & hour class action lawsuit brought by a consortium of well known plaintiff class action law firms. The case has been deemed “complex” by the Los Angeles Superior Court.
LTL has been representing a nationwide property management company against class action claims for alleged unpaid overtime, failure to provide meal and rest breaks, and related claims. After nearly a year since the case was filed, LTL undertook a novel and proactive approach, filing a Motion to Dismiss Class Allegations in which LTL sought to dismiss all current employees from the proposed class. This motion was filed prior to any discovery (apart from a single-day deposition of defendant’s person most knowledgeable), and prior to the filing of any class certification motion. On Monday, July 30th, 2012, the presiding judge granted LTL’s motion to dismiss all current employees from the proposed class.
LTL’s client undertook efforts to settle all claims with current potential class members at the early stage of litigation because it believed the lawsuit was meritless, and wanted to avoid business disruption that these types of cases present. LTL’s client obtained settlements and releases from over 95% of its current employees in exchange for very modest monetary sums. These settlements and releases were obtained after full disclosure to employees of their rights. No employee has complained about the settlements and releases, reneged on them, or attempted to challenge or invalidate them.
What is unusual here is that the basis for the motion was not that the alleged wrongful conduct was uncommon or atypical, but that the settlements reached with the current employees made them unsuitable to be class members. Indeed, for each of the current employees who settled, the employer would have an individualized defense against that employee. As the presiding judge noted in his detailed ruling, class treatment for the settling employees is no longer appropriate because it would require hundreds of mini-trials to determine whether or not each employee voluntarily settled her/his claims. This ruling was widely reported in the Los Angeles Daily Journal, and LTL has since received positive inquiries from other defense firms and prospective corporate clients.
“This is a significant victory for our client and defendants in wage & hour class action cases, which have been on the rise in recent months, particularly in California,” said LTL partner K. Luan Tran, who served as lead counsel. “We are particularly proud of our ‘out-of-the-box’ approach to the case.”