United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
BALAPUWADUGE MENDIS, MICHAEL FEOLA, ANDREA ARBAUGH, and EDWARD ASH, on their own and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
SCHNEIDER NATIONAL CARRIERS, INC., Defendant.
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO CERTIFY CLASS
C. COUGHENOUR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs' motion for
class certification (Dkt. No. 51). Having thoroughly
considered the parties' briefing and the relevant record,
the Court finds oral argument unnecessary and hereby GRANTS
the motion for the reasons explained herein.
Balapuwaduge Mendis, Michael Feola, Andrea Arbaugh, and
Edward Ash are current and former truck drivers for Defendant
Schneider. (Dkt. No. 114 at 1, 2.) Plaintiffs are Washington
residents with commercial driver's licenses issued by the
State of Washington. (Id. at 3; Dkt. No. 51 at 12.)
Schneider is a truckload company that services customers
throughout the United States. (Dkt. No. 114 at 1.) Schneider
maintains a drop lot in Sumner, Washington, where drivers may
park their equipment. (Dkt. No. 95 at 9.) Plaintiffs allege
that Schneider has engaged in a common scheme of wage and
hour violations against its driver employees. (Dkt. No. 114
at 2.) Specifically, “[t]his scheme has included
failing to pay driver employees for all hours worked, making
unlawful [wage] deductions . . ., failing to [issue] itemized
wage statements, and failing to pay driver employees for the
rest breaks to which they are entitled” in violation of
Washington law. (Id.) Plaintiffs now seek
certification under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 and
move for an order certifying the following proposed class:
All current and former employees of Schneider National
Carriers, Inc. who, at any time from December 30, 2011
through the date of final disposition, worked as drivers for
the company while residing in the state of Washington.
(Dkt. No. 51 at 10.)
Legal Standard for Class Certification
seeking to litigate a claim as a class representative must
affirmatively satisfy the requirements of Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 23(a) and the requirements of at least one of
the categories under Rule 23(b). Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v.
Dukes, 564 U.S. 338, 345 (2011); Mazza v. Am. Honda
Motor Co., 666 F.3d 581, 588 (9th Cir. 2012). In
determining whether the plaintiffs have carried this burden,
the Court must conduct a “rigorous analysis.”
General Tel. Co. of Sw. v. Falcon, 457 U.S. 147, 161
(1982). This inquiry may “entail some overlap with the
merits of the plaintiff's underlying claim[, ]”
though the Court considers the merits only to the extent that
they overlap with the requirements of Rule 23 and allow the
Court to determine the certification issue on an informed
basis. Ellis v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 657 F.3d
970, 981 (9th Cir. 2011). The ultimate decision to certify a
class is within the Court's discretion. Vinole v.
Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 571 F.3d 935, 944 (9th
Rule 23(a) Requirements
23(a) requires that one or more members of a class may sue as
a representative plaintiff only if (1) the class is so
numerous that joinder is impracticable; (2) there are common
questions of law or fact to the class; (3) the claims or
defenses of representative parties are typical of those of
the class; and (4) the representatives will fairly and
adequately protect the interests of the absent class members.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a); Mazza, 666 F.3d at 588 (Rule
23(a) requires “numerosity, commonality, typicality and
adequacy of representation”). Schneider contests
certification on commonality, typicality, and adequacy
grounds. (Dkt. No. 95 at 18-23.) Because a rigorous analysis
is required regardless of a defendant's opposition, the
Court addresses each requirement independently.
23(a)'s first requirement is satisfied when the proposed
class is sufficiently numerous to make joinder of all members
impracticable. Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a)(1). The numerosity
requirement requires the examination of the specific facts of
each case, though “in general, courts find the
numerosity requirement satisfied when a class includes at
least 40 members.” Rannis v. Recchia, 380 Fed.
App'x 646, 651 (9th Cir. 2010) (unpublished); see
also Troy v. Kehe Food Distributors, Inc., 276 F.R.D.
642, 652 (W.D. Wash. 2011) (certifying a class of forty-three
to fifty-four workers). Here, the putative class contains
between 150 and 890 members. (Dkt. No. 114 at 4; Dkt. No. 51
at 25.) Schneider does not dispute numerosity. (Dkt. No. 95
at 18.) The Court finds that the numerosity requirement is
Rule 23(a)(2)'s commonality requirement, a plaintiff must
demonstrate that the “class members' claims
‘depend upon a common contention' such that
‘determination of its truth or falsity will resolve an
issue that is central to the validity of each claim in one
stroke.'” Mazza, 666 F.3d at 588 (quoting
Dukes, 564 U.S. at 350). The key inquiry is not
whether the plaintiffs have raised common questions, but
whether “class treatment will ‘generate common
answers apt to drive the resolution of the
litigation.'” Abdullah v. U.S. Sec. Assocs.,
Inc., 731 F.3d 952, 957 (9th Cir. 2013) (quoting
Dukes, 131 S.Ct. at 2551) (emphasis in original).
Every question of law or fact need not be common to the
class. Rather, all Rule 23(a)(2) requires is “a single
significant question of law or fact.” Id.
(quotation omitted); see Meyer v. Portfolio Recovery
Assocs., 707 F.3d 1036, 1041-42 (9th Cir. 2012). The
existence of “shared legal issues with divergent
factual predicates is sufficient, as is a common core of
salient facts coupled with disparate legal remedies within
the class.” Hanlon v. Chrysler Corp., 150 F.3d
1011, 1019 (9th Cir. 1998) (amended).
by workers that their employers have unlawfully denied them
wages to which they were legally entitled have repeatedly
been held to meet the prerequisites for class
certification, ” including commonality. Ramos v.
SimplexGrinnell LP, 796 F.Supp.2d 346, 359-60 (E.D.N.Y.
2011) (gathering cases and noting that numerous courts have
found wage claims are perhaps “the most perfect
questions for class treatment”). Plaintiffs argue that
their claims present numerous common factual and legal
issues, including whether, under Washington law:
• Schneider is obligated to compensate class members for
• Schneider's per diem program results in a
deduction from the wages of class members who are enrolled in
the program to the benefit of Schneider;
• Schneider's fuel card program results in
deductions from the wages of class members who use those
cards to the benefit of Schneider;
• Schneider obtains a benefit from the wage deductions
it takes from class members to pay for safety equipment
drivers are required to purchase as ...