Engel: Class Actions At The Circuit Courts: February Lessons

Federal appellate court decisions can provide class action practitioners a wealth of practice tips, Shook Partner Mitch Engel wrote in Law360.

Engel authored “Class Actions at the Circuit Court: February Lessons,” his first in a series of monthly columns discussing recently issued federal court decisions in the area of class action law. In addition to discussing the relevant decisions, Engel also provides takeaways for litigators.

One such ruling was in the case of Miles v. Kirkland's Stores Inc. Engel said the district court denied certification of employees’ claims the retailer violated labor laws by requiring them to take breaks on store property and surrender to bag checks when they ended their shifts.

The Ninth Circuit reversed in part, remanding in part. Engel said the ruling shows the importance of bringing thorough evidence of written policies in wage-and-hour disputes.

“Practitioners should take note that even when a written policy is involved, plaintiffs should introduce evidence to show the policy is routinely and consistently applied, and defendants should introduce evidence that the policy is applied sporadically and in different ways by different people at different locations,” he said. “The Ninth Circuit opinion emphasized both sides of this: It certified the class where the policy was consistently enforced, and refused to certify the other class because it would have to undertake individual inquiries.”

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