Home » Class Action Reporter » WAL-MART STORES: “Ridgeway” Plaintiffs Get $5+ MM in Restitution

WAL-MART STORES: “Ridgeway” Plaintiffs Get $5+ MM in Restitution

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Judge Susan Illston granted in part and denied, in part, the
plaintiff’s post-trial motion in the case captioned CHARLES
RIDGEWAY, et al., Plaintiffs, v. WAL-MART STORES INC., Defendant,
Case No. 08-cv-05221-SI (N.D. Cal.). Judge Illston:

(1) granted the plaintiffs’ request for restitution under
California’s Unfair Competition Law (UCL) in the amount
of $5,861,147.00;

(2) denied the plaintiffs’ request for liquidated damages
under California Labor Code section 1194.2; and

(3) denied the plaintiffs’ request for civil penalties under
Labor Code section 1197.1.

The plaintiffs are truck drivers in California previously employed
by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. for some period of time between 1993 and
the present.

The plaintiffs previously went to trial on their minimum wage
claims, alleging that Wal-Mart violated California minimum wage
law by failing to pay class members the minimum wage for 11 tasks.
On November 23, 2016, the jury returned a verdict in plaintiffs’
favor on four of the 11 tasks at issue, finding that class members
were paid less than the minimum wage by Wal-Mart for some or all
hours worked for: performing pre-trip inspections, performing
post-trip inspections, taking 10-minute rest breaks, and taking
10-hour layovers. The jury accepted the damages calculations set
forth by plaintiffs’ expert witness Dr. G. Michael Phillips and
awarded damages to the class. The jury also found that Wal-Mart
intentionally failed to pay minimum wage to class members in any
pay period from October 10, 2007, to October 15, 2015.

On February 2016, plaintiffs filed a motion for partial summary
judgment on their UCL claim. The plaintiffs sought restitution
under the UCL for October 10, 2004, through October 9, 2005, in
the amount of at least $5,861,148.

Judge Illston found that Wal-Mart’s opposition, stating that the
evidence does not support the plaintiffs’ request for restitution,
merely forwarded arguments that Wal-Mart made at trial and that
the jury rejected. As with the jury, the judge also decided to
adopt the figures set forth by Dr. Phillips at trial where he
testified to the following figures totaling minimum wage
violations as to class members from October 10, 2004, through
October 9, 2005:

Pre-trip inspections: $350,157
Post-trip inspections: $350,157
10-minute rest breaks: $466,528
10-hour layovers: $4,694,305

Thus, following the jury’s verdict, Judge Illston awarded
restitution to the class for a total of $5,861,147.

The plaintiffs also argued that class members are entitled to
$54,604,181 in liquidated damages under California Labor Code
section 1194.2. Judge Illston, howerver, found that Wal-Mart
presented evidence at trial demonstrating that it can meet the
requirements of either good faith or a reasonable belief under
subsection (b) of the statute. The judge thus declined to impose
liquidated damages.

Finally, the plaintiffs sought civil penalties in the amount of
$25,698,300, pursuant to California Labor Code section 1197.1.
Wal-Mart argued that the plaintiffs are not entitled to penalties
because section 1197.1 does not provide a private right of action.

Judge Illston found that Wal-Mart is correct that the plaintiffs
case may not recover the penalties described in section 1197.1.
The judge found that Labor Code section 1197.1 does not state that
the prescribed penalties accrue directly to the employee. To the
contrary, several provisions in the statute refer to remedies
other than the civil penalty that accrue to the employee. The
judge pointed out that the fact that the legislature specified
within section 1197.1 which remedies are payable to the employee,
but did not include the penalties at issue here, indicates that
the legislature did not intend these penalties to be paid to the
employee, as the plaintiffs suggested. The judge explained that
an employee may enforce section 1197.1 through a representative
action under the Labor Code Private Attorney General Act of 2004
(PAGA). The PAGA requires that, prior to initiating a civil
lawsuit, the employee must have complied with various notice and
administrative requirements. The judge found that the plaintiffs
have not done so.

A full-text copy of Judge Illston’s January 25, 2017 order is
available at https://is.gd/ySUdYw from Leagle.com.

Charles Ridgway, Jaime Famoso, Joshua Harold, Richard Byers, Dan
Thatcher, Nino Pagtama, Farris Day, Karl Merhoff, Michael Krohn,
Plaintiffs, Plaintiffs, represented by Andrew Butler Jones, Esq.,
Wagner & Jones, Jacob Mitchell Weisberg, Law Offices of Jacob M.
Weisberg, Daniel Myers Kopfman, Law Offices of Wagner Jones,
Lawrence Mark Artenian, Law Offices of Wagner & Jones LLP,
Nicholas John Paul Wagner, Law Offices of Wagner & Jones, Paul
Carter Mullen, Law Offices of Wagner & Jones LLP, Russel David
Myrick, RDM Legal Group, Stanley Donald Saltzman, Marlin &
Saltzman & Stephen Patrick O’Dell, Marlin & Saltzman, LLP.

Willie Franklin, Plaintiff, represented by Andrew Butler Jones,
Esq., Wagner & Jones, Daniel Myers Kopfman, Law Offices of Wagner
Jones, Lawrence Mark Artenian, Law Offices of Wagner & Jones LLP,
Nicholas John Paul Wagner, Law Offices of Wagner & Jones, Paul
Carter Mullen, Law Offices of Wagner & Jones LLP, Russel David
Myrick, RDM Legal Group, Stanley Donald Saltzman, Marlin &
Saltzman & Stephen Patrick O’Dell, Marlin & Saltzman, LLP.

Time Opitz, Plaintiff, represented by Andrew Butler Jones, Esq.,
Wagner & Jones, Jacob Mitchell Weisberg, Law Offices of Jacob M.
Weisberg, Daniel Myers Kopfman, Law Offices of Wagner Jones,
Lawrence Mark Artenian, Law Offices of Wagner & Jones LLP, Paul
Carter Mullen, Law Offices of Wagner & Jones LLP, Russel David
Myrick, RDM Legal Group, Stanley Donald Saltzman, Marlin &
Saltzman & Stephen Patrick O’Dell, Marlin & Saltzman, LLP.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Defendant, represented by Catherine A.
Conway — cconway@gibsondunn.com — Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP,
George Charles Nierlich, III — gnierlich@gibsondunn.com — Gibson
Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Julian Wing-Kai Poon — jpoon@gibsondunn.com
— Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Adam Carl Smedstad —
asmedstad@scopelitis.com — Scopelitis Garvin Light Hanson &
Feary, P.C., pro hac vice, Angela Yue-Man Poon —
apoon@gibsondunn.com — Gibson, Dunn and Crutcaher LLP, Blaine H.
Evanson — bevanson@gibsondunn.com — Gibson Dunn and Crutcher
LLP, Christopher Chad McNatt, Jr. — cmcnatt@scopelitis.com —
Scopelitis Garvin Light Hanson & Feary, LLP, James H. Hanson —
jhanson@scopelitis.com — Scopelitis, Garvin, Light & Hanson,
Jenna Musselman Yott — jyott@gibsondunn.com — Gibson Dunn and
Crutcher, Jesse A. Cripps, Jr. — jcripps@gibsondunn.com — Gibson
Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Michael Li-Ming Wong — mwong@gibsondunn.com
— Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Rachel S. Brass —
rbrass@gibsondunn.com — Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Scott Alan
Edelman — sedelman@gibsondunn.com — Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP &
Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr. — tboutros@gibsondunn.com — Attorney
at Law.