A second U.S. District Court judge has decided not to follow the holding in Cicairos v. Summit Logistics (2005) 133 Cal.App.4th 949, endorsing the DLSE's interpretation of California regarding what it means to "provide" employees with meal breaks, instead following another District Court ruling (White v. Starbucks (N.D. Cal. 2007) 497 F.Supp.2d 1080). As a result, Judge Dale Fischer denied certification in Brown v. Federal Express Corporation (C.D. Cal. 2008) 2008 WL 906517, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17125, a putative class action brought on behalf of a subclass of drivers who alleged that they were denied meal and rest breaks. The plaintiffs asserted that FedEx had an affirmative obligation to ensure that employees took meal breaks. Judge Fischer held that FedEx's duty to "provide" meal periods merely meant to make meal periods available to employees. "It does not suggest any obligation to ensure that employees take advantage of what is made available to them."
In the absence of California Supreme Court precedent, this Court must apply the rule it believes the court would adopt under the circumstances. ... The court does not believe that the California Supreme Court would adopt the enforcement rule advocated by Plaintiffs.
Consequently, the court determined that, applying this standard, to prevail, the plaintiffs would have to prove that FedEx forced them to forego the meal breaks, a burden which, to meet, would cause the trial to focus on individualized issues, making class action treatment inappropriate.
The decision has no precedential value, as unpublished federal decisions are unciteable in U.S. District Court, and California trial courts are bound to follow Cicairos v. Summit Logistics under the principle of stare decisis.