Bill Would Bring Welcome Reform To Class Action Litigation

For a number of years, California employers have been besieged by costly, time consuming class action lawsuits, which frequently take the form of suits alleging violation of California's wage and hour laws. Welcome reform may on the horizon.

On February 10, 2010, California Assembly Member Audra Strickland introduced Assembly Bill ABX8 38, a bill that would significantly reform California's class action procedures.

The bill presently includes a Legislative finding that "[t]he lack of clear standards for the certification and management of class actions in California has led to abuses of the class action devise that have harmed Class members with legitimate claims as well as defendants who have acted responsibly, and these abuses have undermined public respect for our judicial system."Among other things, the bill would:1. Create a uniform set of standards for the certification of class actions and management of class actions modeled after Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.2. Remove "any presumption or policy in favor of class certification and allow class certification only when all requirements set forth" in the bill are satisfied. 3. When a class is certified, require that each member of the certified class carry "the burden of proving all elements of the member's cause of action, including individual injury and the amount of damages."4. Require the proponents of a class to bear the expense of required notices. 5. Provide to defendants the opportunity to propose to the court a settlement not approved of by class counsel representing the plaintiff class (i.e., to remove class counsel as an obstacle to settlement). 6. Clarify that courts have discretion to stay discovery directly solely to the merits of the claims until a decision about class certification is made.We will monitor this important piece of pending legislation and report on significant developments.

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