By obtaining a dismissal upheld on appeal, California employer defense attorney, Clifton E. Smith, of CE Smith Law Firm, successfully defended employer, KWK Trucking, Inc., (“KWK”) against employee wage and hour, class action litigation in the case of Henry Castillo, et al, v. DHL Express (USA), Appellate Court Case No. B258432 (LA Sup. Court Case BC409169, certified for partial publication).

The Appellate Court for the Second Appellate District, Division Three, upheld the Los Angeles Superior Court’s decision to dismiss this class action, with prejudice, because of plaintiffs’ counsel’s failure to bring this action to trial within five years after the case was commenced.  The decision was consistent with the statutory mandate for dismissal under Code of Civil Procedure sections 583.310, 583.360.

Former KWK employees brought this class action against KWK on March 6, 2009, alleging missed meal and rest periods, inaccurate wage statements, failure to pay all wages due at termination, and related allegations of unfair business practices under Business & Professions Code section 17200.

In short, these plaintiffs brought the classic wage and hour, class action case that so typifies the type of multi-million dollar litigation against employers in California.  In this case, plaintiffs were even able to obtain partial certification of the class action despite vigorous opposition by defense counsel.  More often than not, certification of one or more class claims is also a typical outcome in these California class actions.  What is not typical in this type of case is a dismissal of the entire action.

In this action, it appears that Plaintiffs’ counsel were distracted – they were preoccupied responding to the vigorous defense tendered by two different law firms, CE Smith Law Firm, who defended its client, KWK, and Fisher & Phillips, who defended its client, DHL.  As a result of this vigorous defense, and the resulting dismissal, these clients remain focused on their business pursuits.  They will no longer wonder about potential, financial exposure in this action, or continuing defense fees, or the cost of litigation.  They won, the plaintiffs lost, and the case is over.  It is an example of what can be achieved, even in California, when employers work closely with their attorneys who defend such class-action litigation.

If your firm is faced with costly, wage & hour, class-action litigation by current or former employees, it is critical that your business carefully evaluate its options, its anticipated defense to such litigation, and the prospect for early resolution of such, class-action litigation.  With the potential, financial exposure associated with class-action litigation, the future of your business may literally depend upon the decisions that you make now.  It is critical that you choose wisely.