Alderwoods defeats class certification in nationwide off-the-clock case
Client(s) Alderwoods Group, Inc.
Jones Day defeated the plaintiffs' effort to obtain class certification of nationwide and California classes in an off-the-clock wage and hour action against Alderwoods Group, Inc., a subsidiary of Service Corporation International, Inc.
Plaintiffs had sought to assert ten different wage and hour claims under the laws of all 50 states on behalf of a putative class of more than 10,000 employees. The Court denied the initial class certification motion on December 29, 2009, agreeing with Jones Day that, as a result of significant variation in employees' experiences, "individual factual issues would overwhelm any common questions presented." Although Plaintiffs asserted that the alleged violations stemmed from company-wide policies, the Court found that declarations and testimony submitted by Alderwoods demonstrated significant variation in employees' work experiences.
On July 27, 2010, Plaintiffs again moved for class certification, this time of a putative California class asserting ten claims under the California Labor Code and common law. On March 9, 2011, the Court denied this motion as well. The Court concluded that, even as to the smaller proposed class, certification would be inappropriate because "[l]iability for underpayment of any class member could only be demonstrated after individualized inquiry as to that employee's work history, and would reflect specific-and potentially idiosyncratic-instructions by location managers."
William Helm, et al. v. Alderwoods Group, Inc., Case No. CV 08-1184-SI; (N.D. Cal., 3/2011)