As of January 2009, use of the CM/ECF system became mandatory for all attorneys filing in the 9th Circuit, unless they are granted an exemption from using the CM/ECF system. For more information, check out the 9th Circuit's ECF information page.
If you lose a summary adjudication motion and motion for class certification, you cannot settle all of your individual claims and stipulate to the entry of a judgment bawed upon that settlement while still preserving your right to appeal the summary adjudication and class certification issued. If you try, your appeal will be dismissed as moot. Larner v. L.A. Doctors Hosp. Assocs. (2008) 168 Cal.App.4th 1291.
Josephine Larner, a nurse, sued her former hospital employer for violation of overtime laws, purporting to represent a class of current and former nonexempt employees. The trial court granted in part the hospital’s motion for summary adjudication of Larner’s claim that the hospital failed to pay for overtime hours. Larner then amended her complaint, stating individual and class claims for failure to properly calculate overtime pay rates and for failure to keep accurate and complete wage records. The trial court denied Larner’s motion for class certification. The parties entered into a settlement agreement and stipulated to the entry of final judgment in favor of the hospital. Larner appeals both the summary adjudication of her overtime hours claim and the denial of her certification motion. We dismiss the appeal as moot.
“Generally, courts decide only ‘actual controversies’ which will result in a judgment that offers relief to the parties. [Citations.] Thus, appellate courts as a rule will not render opinions on moot questions . . . . The policy behind this rule is that courts decide justiciable controversies and will normally not render advisory opinions. [Citations.] [¶] One such event occurring for which a reviewing court will dismiss an appeal is when the underlying claim is settled or compromised.” (Ebensteiner Co., Inc. v. Chadmar Group (2006) 143 Cal.App.4th 1174, 1178-1179.) When a case has settled, dismissal of the appeal is the appropriate disposition because “settlement operates as a merger and ban as to all preexisting claims and those alleged in the lawsuit that have been resolved.” (Id. at p. 1179, citing Armstrong v. Sacramento Valley R. Co. (1919) 179 Cal. 648, 651].)
This may not mean that a plaintiff cannot settle a case individually and still proceed with some classwide claims on behalf of others. See La Sala v. American Sav. & Loan Assn. (1971) 5 Cal.3d 864, 871. Individual relief to the named plaintiffs in a class action does not, in itself, render those plaintiffs unfit per se to represent the class. Kagan v. Gibraltar Sav. & Loan Assn. (1984) 35 Cal.3d 582, 594. A defendant’s offer to settle, by waiving its right to enforce a complained-of clause in a contract against class representatives, or by offering the named plaintiff reimbursement of fees the class action challenged as improperly deducted, does not necessarily end the class action. Even after an offer of individual relief, the named plaintiff may retain an interest in proceeding on behalf of the other members of the class who are similarly situated. If, because of such relief, the court concludes that the named plaintiff is no longer a suitable representative, the court should grant the plaintiff leave to amend the complaint to redefine the class, or add new class representatives, or both.
You just can't do it by stipulating to a final judgment on the settlement after losing your class certification motion, and then appealing, as they did here. You can download the full text of Larner here in PDF or Word format.
Peculiar procedural detail: "After a number of continuances, the court set a final trial date of July 11, 2007 on Larner’s remaining claims. On May 23, 2007, Larner moved for certification of two separate classes, one for each of her two remaining issues: improper calculation of overtime rates and failure to keep accurate and complete wage records. The trial court denied the motion on June 20, 2007, because the motion was unduly tardy, because Larner’s claims were not typical of the proposed classes, and because the class definitions were overbroad." A certification motion set for hearing three weeks before trial? That must have been a nightmare.
There is still no hearing date for oral argument in Martinez v. Combs (Cal. S. Ct. Case No. S121552) 2003 WL 22708950. The Supreme Court granted review on the following issue:
“Can the officers and directors of a corporate employer personally be held civilly liable for causing the corporation to violate the statutory duty to pay minimum and overtime minimum wages, either on the ground such officers and directors fall within the definition of "employer" in Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Order 9 or on another basis?”
The current appeal, which turns five years old today, was fully briefed in 2006. The only sniff of activity in the case since 2006:
Letter dated July 15, 2008 from William G. Hoerger, lead counsel for Appellants (Martinez et al.) requesting the court not to set oral argument during the period of September 25 through Nov. 7, 2008. He and wife have purchased non-refundable airline tickets for a trip departing 9/25/2008 and returning Nov. 7, 2008.
The Court of Appeal has finally considered the merits of the appeal inCalifornians for Disability Rights v. Mervyn's LLC (2008) __ Cal.App.4th __, reversing the trial court's decision in favor of the retailer. The decision on the merits is not pertinent to wage and hour law, but the case's procedural history after Proposition 64's revision to the Unfair Competition Law was of interest to any wage and hour plaintiff who asserted pre-Prop 64 representative claims for which certification was in doubt.
While this case was pending on appeal, the voters of California amended the statute under which the case had been prosecuted. The voters’ enactment, popularly known as Proposition 64, was passed in the California General Election on November 2, 2004, and went into effect the next day. (Cal. Const., art. II, § 10, subd. (a).) At the time this case was tried, the UCL authorized any person acting for the general public to sue for relief from unfair competition. (Californians for Disability Rights v. Mervyn’s, LLC (2006) 39 Cal.4th 223, 228 (Mervyn’s).) “Standing to bring such an action did not depend on a showing of injury or damage.” (Ibid.) Proposition 64 amended the UCL to limit private enforcement to those who have suffered injury in fact and have lost money or property as a result of such unfair competition. (Ibid.) Proposition 64 did not state whether this new limitation applies to pending cases. (Id. at p. 229.)
On December 6, 2004, Mervyn’s moved to dismiss this appeal upon the claim that Proposition 64’s change in standing requirements apply to pending cases. We denied the motion because new legislative enactments are presumed to operate prospectively, rather than retroactively, to avoid unfair impairment of existing rights and obligations. In July 2006, the California Supreme Court reversed our ruling, upon concluding that application of Proposition 64’s standing requirements to pending cases would not constitute a retroactive application of the law because the initiative measure did not change any existing rights or obligations. (Mervyn’s, supra, 39 Cal.4th at pp. 232-234.) While the measure “withdraws the standing of persons who have not been harmed to represent those who have,” it did not impair any rights because lack of standing is a jurisdictional challenge that can be raised at any time in a legal proceeding. (Id. at pp. 232-233.) The high court reversed our denial of Mervyn’s motion to dismiss the appeal and remanded the case to us “for further proceedings consistent” with its opinion. (Id. at p. 234.)
On remand to this court, CDR asked leave to move for substitution of plaintiff on appeal—it did not contend that it had standing to appeal in its own right as a party aggrieved by the judgment under Code of Civil Procedure section 902. We denied CDR’s request and granted Mervyn’s motion to dismiss the appeal for lack of standing by CDR. CDR petitioned for review in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court granted review and transferred the case to us with directions to vacate our decision and to reconsider the cause in light of United Investors Life Ins. Co. v. Waddell & Reed, Inc. (2005) 125 Cal.App.4th 1300 (United Investors) and Branick v. Downey Savings & Loan Assn. (2006) 39 Cal.4th 235 (Branick).
United Investors held that a plaintiff has standing to appeal dismissal of a UCL complaint following demurrer even if it has no authority to maintain its suit in superior court, because plaintiff “is sufficiently aggrieved by the dismissal of its complaint that it has standing to appeal under Code of Civil Procedure section 902.” (United Investors, supra, 125 Cal.App.4th at p. 1305.) Branick held that Proposition 64 does not forbid amendment of complaints in the trial court to substitute new plaintiffs for those who have lost standing under the new measure. (Branick, supra, 39 Cal.4th at pp. 241-242.) The “ordinary rules governing the amendment of complaints” apply. (Id. at p. 239.)
Upon reconsideration, we denied Mervyn’s motion to dismiss the appeal in a ruling we issued on April 17, 2007. We concluded that the two cases referenced by the high court, “when read in conjunction, lead to the following conclusion: CDR is a party aggrieved by entry of judgment against it and thus has standing to appeal the judgment even if CDR has no authority to maintain its suit in superior court (United Investors, supra, 125 Cal.App.4th at pp. 1304-1305); and, if CDR succeeds in its effort to reverse the judgment on appeal, it may seek leave in the superior court to amend its complaint to substitute a plaintiff who meets the Proposition 64 standing requirement.” (Branick, supra, 39 Cal.4th at pp. 240-244.) Mervyn’s petitioned for review in the Supreme Court, and the petition was denied on July 18, 2007.
The parties completed briefing on the merits of the appeal in January 2008, and the matter was argued and submitted for decision.
That decision involved yet another remand:
we conclude that a retailer does not meet its obligation to make its merchandise available to disabled individuals denied access to the retailer’s existing stores by constructing new and geographically distant stores that are accessible. Accordingly, we remand the case for consideration of appropriate alternative means for making merchandise available to disabled individuals who are denied physical access.
It all might be academic now, however, as Mervyn's filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday, automatically staying any claims against the retailer. You can review the full opinion in Californians for Disability Rights v. Mervyn's LLC here in pdf or word format.