In Roach v. T. L. Cannon Corp., the district court denied class certification of a putative class of employees of an Applebee’s restaurant chain who were denied wages to which they were entitled under federal and New York law based upon the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Comcast v. Behrend, 133 S. Ct. 1426, 185 L. Ed. 2d 515 (2013). The court denied class certification holding that the damages calculations of individual class members would be “highly individualized,” and thus could not meet the “predominance” prong of Rule 23(b)(3).
NELA’s amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit challenges the district court’s reading of Comcast because it upends long standing and widespread principles of black letter law by imposing a new requirement that class certification depends on the existence of class wide theory as to both liability and damages. We argue that by applying Comcast in this fashion, the district court effectively transformed the wage and hour laws on this matter, adopted an erroneous reading of Comcast, and established a sweeping rule that, if accepted, would fundamentally alter the contours of class litigation under Rule 23(b)(3). Our brief addressed the significant implications of the district court’s decision, and provided guidance to the courts about the scope and meaning of the recent Comcast decision. NELA’s amicus brief was written by NELA members Jamie G. Sypulski (IL) and Douglas M. Werman, with support from NELA and Amicus Advisory Council member David Borgen. The plaintiffs are represented by NELA member J. Nelson Thomas (NY).