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Camp v. Alexander

United States District Court for the Northern District of California

April 14, 2014, Decided; April 15, 2014, Filed

No. C -13-03386(EDL)

Opinion

 [*619]  ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFFS' EX PARTE REQUEST TO RESTRICT DEFENDANTS AND THEIR COUNSEL FROM COMMUNICATION WITH PUTATIVE CLASS MEMBERS

I. Introduction

The parties in this putative wage-and-hour class action against a pediatric dental practice have several issues before the Court. Plaintiffs request that Defendants be enjoined from further contacting putative class members, after Defendants  [**2] provided their employees with a letter explaining their position on the lawsuit and providing an opt-out declaration for employees to sign. Plaintiffs argue that this letter was coercive and that the signed opt-out declarations are invalid. Defendants contend that the letter is merely a statement of opinion and that their employees have the right to opt out from the litigation and withhold their personal information from Plaintiffs' counsel. The parties also have several discovery disputes that depend in part on the Court's ruling on the appropriateness of the letter and the waivability of certain claims in the case. The Court will first address Plaintiffs' request to enjoin Defendants from further communications with the putative class, and then address the discovery disputes.

II. Plaintiffs' Ex Parte Request to Enjoin Defendants from Further Communication with Putative Class Members (Docket Nos. 110-112)

A. Background and Content of the Employee Letter

Several former employees of Defendants' dental practice filed this wage-and-hour suit. Although the case is at a relatively early stage, it has been contentious and there has been extensive motion practice. The California Department of  [**3] Labor Standards Enforcement, which had issued citations against Defendants, eventually dismissed those citations and specifically empowered Plaintiffs to pursue all claims against Defendants. Defendants' practice, the Youthful Tooth, provides dental care primarily to low-income children on Medicaid. Declaration of Mary Jo Salazar ISO Defendants' Opposition ("Salazar Decl."), Docket No. 118-1, para. 2.

On March 3, 2014, Plaintiffs filed an ex parte request to enjoin Defendants, the dental practice and its owners, from communicating with potential class members about the lawsuit. Docket Nos. 110-112. This request followed Plaintiffs' discovery that on February 20, 2014, Defendants sent their employees a letter describing the lawsuit and its potential negative effect on the Defendants' dental practice.

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300 F.R.D. 617 *; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52199 **; 22 Wage & Hour Cas. 2d (BNA) 1187; 2014 WL 1476699

MARGOT CAMP, et al., Plaintiffs, v. JEFFREY P ALEXANDER et al., Defendants.

Prior History: Camp v. Alexander, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19131 (N.D. Cal., Feb. 13, 2014)

CORE TERMS

employees, Plaintiffs', opt-out, lawsuit, putative class member, declaration, communications, Defendants', coercive, class action, misleading, invalid, potential class member, contact information, parties, notice, join, retaliation, discovery, documents, cases, dental practice, phone number, meetings, opt, certification, responses, coercion, staff, ex parte

Civil Procedure, Special Proceedings, Class Actions, General Overview, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Freedoms, Freedom of Speech, Notice of Class Action, Content of Notice, Opt Out Provisions