Ahlquist v. Bimbo Foods Bakeries Distribution Inc.
A court may conditionally certify a putative class action suit that meets the requirements of numerosity, commonality, typicality and adequacy of representation, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a). The plaintiffs requested preliminary court approval of a proposed class action settlement. The District Court found that the proposed settlement resulted from arms-length negotiations by experienced counsel. The court conditionally certified a class of "independent operators" who allegedly purchased products from the defendant or its affiliates between Jan. 1, 2008 and Jan. 18, 2013. The class-action plaintiffs meet numerosity requirements, because there are about 433 plaintiffs in the proposed class action. Numerosity is presumed if there are 40 or more class members. Common questions of fact and law exist with respect to whether the defendant violated wage-and-hour laws when it classified the "independent operators" as independent contractors. Class members' claims arise from the same alleged practice or course of conduct. The interests of the named class plaintiffs do not appear to be adverse to those of the other members of the proposed class. Adjudication as a class action will help to conserve scarce judicial resources. It also will help individuals who lack the resources to file individual claims. The court appointed the law firms of Pullman & Comley LLC, Lichten & Liss-Riordan PC and the Hayber Law Firm as class counsel. The plaintiffs' attorneys are highly experienced in employment and class action litigation. Class members can opt out of the settlement or file a written objection to the settlement within 60 days. The court scheduled a hearing in May 2013 to decide whether the proposed settlement meets fairness requirements.