By Eric M. Lloyd, Gerald L. Maatman, Jr., and Laura J. Maechtlen 

Earlier this week, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California sent plaintiffs seeking to represent a putative class a reminder that they must actually be class members before certification will be granted. In Segura v. CRST Van Expedited, Inc., 12-CV-01901 (C.D. Cal. June 16, 2014), the Court simultaneously granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment in part and denied the plaintiff’s motion for class certification because he could not satisfy the commonality and typicality requirements.

Background To The Ruling

The plaintiff alleged a laundry list of state law claims on behalf of himself and a putative class for allegedly unreimbursed expenses, alleged failure to pay the minimum wage, and alleged failure to provide itemized wage statements, along with a discrimination class claim for good measure.  However, the Court dismissed four of the plaintiff’s claims, and the ripple effect of those rulings thwarted class certification. The Court held that the plaintiff could not satisfy the commonality requirement because his alleged entitlement to reimbursements arose during the job application process, whereas the proposed class included members who incurred allegedly unreimbursed expenses did so during their employment with the defendant. The plaintiff also failed to meet the commonality requirement because he could not show that he was a member of the class he purported to represent — indeed, he could not demonstrate that he suffered any injuries under the claims that the Court dismissed. Class certification was not a close call here, as the Court did not bother to address whether the plaintiff could adequately represent the class.

Implications For Employers

While the Court’s ruling is not particularly pithy, it is a useful example of how differentiating the claims of a putative class representative from those of the class members he or she seeks to represent during discovery can prevent certification down the line. This is a nice defense ruling to put away for future use in workplace class action litigation settings.