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Vaquero v. Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

June 8, 2016

Ricardo Bermudez Vaquero, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc., A Wisconsin Corporation; Stoneledge Furniture, LLC, a Wisconsin Limited Liability Corporation, Defendants-Appellants.

          Submitted May 24, 2016 [*] Pasadena, California

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California Percy Anderson, District Judge, Presiding, No. 2:12-cv-08590-PA-MAN

          J. Kevin Lilly and Scott M. Lidman, Littler Mendelson, P.C., Los Angeles, California, for Defendants-Appellants.

          Michael D. Singer and Jeff Geraci, Cohelan Khoury & Singer, San Diego, California; Kevin T. Barnes and Gregg Lander, Law Offices of Kevin T. Barnes, Los Angeles, California; Raphael Katri, Law Offices of Raphael A. Katri, Beverly Hills, California; Michael Rubin, Altshuler Berzon LLP, San Francisco, California; for Plaintiff-Appellee.

          Before: Susan P. Graber and Ronald M. Gould, Circuit Judges, and Wiley Y. Daniel, [**] Senior District Judge.

         SUMMARY [***]

         Class Certification

         The panel affirmed the district court's order granting class certification under Fed.R.Civ.P. 23 to a plaintiff representing a class of former and current sales associates of Stoneledge Furniture, LLC, alleging violations of California's minimum wage and hour laws.

         The panel held that plaintiff established commonality, as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a), and the district court permissibly concluded that plaintiff pleaded a common injury capable of class-wide resolution. The panel also held that plaintiff established the predominance of class claims, as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(3); and the district court permissibly ruled that individual claims did not predominate in this case. Finally, the panel held that class certification did not alter the parties' substantive rights, and the district court did not violate the Rules Enabling Act in certifying the class.

          OPINION

          GRABER, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         Defendant Stoneledge Furniture, LLC, pays its sales associates only on commission but, it is alleged, requires sales associates to do many tasks that are unrelated to sales. Plaintiff Ricardo Bermudez Vaquero, a former sales associate, asserts that this policy violates California's minimum wage and hour laws. He sued Stoneledge Furniture and its parent company, Defendant Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc., on his own behalf and also moved to represent 605 former and current sales associates as a class. The district court granted class certification under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. We affirm that decision in this interlocutory appeal.

         Stoneledge Furniture is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ashley Furniture Industries. At the time the district court granted class certification, Stoneledge operated 14 retail furniture stores in California and employed about 600 sales associates, who primarily sold furniture and accessories to Stoneledge's customers. Stoneledge paid its sales associates on commission.

         Vaquero worked as a sales associate at Stoneledge from 2010 to 2012. He alleges that Stoneledge requires sales associates to perform many tasks unrelated to sales, for example, cleaning the store, attending meetings, and carrying furniture. According to Vaquero, Stoneledge does not pay its sales associates for such work, beyond what they earn in commissions, and this policy violates California wage and hour laws.

         Vaquero initially filed this action in state court in California and sought class certification. Under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2), Defendants removed the case to federal court, and Vaquero moved to be named a class representative. He asked to represent four subclasses, three of which were derivative of the first: (1) a class of all California sales associates employed from August 24, 2008, to the present who were paid less than minimum wage for non-sales time worked; (2) sales associates who were not provided with itemized wage statements; (3) former sales associates who were not paid all wages due at separation; and (4) sales associates who were subject to unlawful business practices. Vaquero introduced pay plans and policies, along with declarations from putative class ...


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