Los Angeles Employment Attorney: Appeals Court Reverses $15M Award in USB Case

2012-04-07 18:34:33 (GMT) (Caymanmama.com - Law Press Release News)

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04/03/2012 // Los Angeles, CA, USA // Keller Grover LLP // Los Angeles Employment Attorney Eric Grover

Los Angeles, CA (Los Angeles Employment Attorney News) — A California appeals court has reversed a $15 million wage and hour class action judgment against the U.S. Bank National Association (USB), which claimed the bank misclassified 260 current and former employees, thus unlawfully denying them overtime compensation, reports Los Angeles employment lawyer Eric Grover of Keller Grover LLP.

The U.S. Bank National Association appealed a bifurcated bench trial that resulted in a multi-million dollar judgment brought under Business and Professions Code section 17200, and prevailed. The appeals court agreed with the defendant’s argument that the trial court’s trial management plan deprived it of its constitutional due process rights preventing the defendants from defending themselves against the individual claims for over 90 percent of the class. The court also ruled that the case must be decertified, and reversed an order to award certain expert witness fees to the plaintiffs. In addition, the court remanded the two named plaintiffs’ meal and rest break period violations claims for reconsideration, court documents stated.

Ramina Rafiqzada, a former business banking officer (BBO), filed the wage and hour lawsuit on December 26, 2001, claiming that BBO’s were misclassified as exempt outside salespersons, for whom USB was not obligated to pay overtime and related wages. The lawsuit also contended that USB violated Business and Professions Code section 17200.

On January 6, 2005, plaintiff filed a motion to certify the case as a class action, which was supported by 34 declarations from current and former BBO’s, who maintain they regularly worked overtime hours and spent less than half their work time engaged in sales-related activities outside of branch offices, according to court documents.

That same day USB filed a motion to deny the class certification, claiming that the plaintiffs could not establish that common issues predominate. They further presented declarations from 75 of 83 class members who described their job duties as including spending more than 50% of their time on outside sales.

Ultimately, on March 16, 2005, the trial court granted the class action certification, states California employment lawyer Eric Grover.

Over the next two years, the class representatives were renamed, witness testimony was heard, and the plaintiffs filed motions to amend the complaint to include failure to provide meal and rest periods, failure to pay wages, pay owed wages, pay overtime; violate maximum hours and failure to comply with labor laws.

On March 1, 2007, the plaintiffs filed a motion to class certification of their meal and rest break claims, which the court denied.

After a lengthy bench trial, on May 20, 2009, the trial court issued its decision that awarded a total of $14,959,565 to the class. USB promptly filed an appeal of the trial court’s decision, which they subsequently won and the judgment was reversed, reports Grover, a Los Angeles wage and hour lawyer. Plaintiffs are in the process of seeking review from the California Supreme Court.

This news was brought to you by the Los Angeles wage and hour lawyers at Keller Grover LLP.

Keller Grover is an experienced employment law firm that has played leading roles in a wide variety of employment related claims, including wage and hour, breach of contract cases and discrimination and harassment cases based on race, sex, age, disability and other legally protected categories. Keller Grover LLP is dedicated to helping workers whose wage and hour rights have been violated. For more information about the Los Angeles employment attorneys at Keller Grover and employment law cases, please visit www.kellergover.com.



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