Law School Case Brief
Oplchenski v. Parfums Givenchy, Inc. - 254 F.R.D. 489 (N.D. Ill. 2008)
In order to maintain a class action under Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(3), plaintiffs must demonstrate that questions of law or fact common to the members of the class predominate over any questions affecting only individual members and a class action is superior to other available methods for the fair and efficient adjudication of the controversy.
Plaintiffs, Luba Oplchenski and Aida Norey, filed a Fifth Amended Complaint challenging Parfums Givenchy’s classification of "rotators" - and others who worked in the fragrance and cosmetics industry at department stores - as independent contractors rather than employees, which as an effect excluded them from participation in various employee benefits and benefit plans. The workers moved for class certification pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 23. The workers also moved to strike expert opinions in the companies' response.
Should the workers’ motion for class certification and motion to strike expert opinions in the companies’ response be granted?
The court held that although Luba Oplchenski and Aida Norey allege Parfums Givenchy uniformly characterized rotators as independent contractors to exclude them from receiving various benefits, the former have not shown that liability turns predominately on the common issue of whether Parfums Givenchy controlled the manner and means of the rotators' work. Rather, Parfums Givenchy have shown that liability would turn on individual issues, including the terms of the individual plans and whether each proposed class member meets the eligibility criteria for each of the plans and would have opted for benefits. According to the court, determining which of the over-40,000 potential class members in many states meet the eligibility criteria for the various employee benefits and benefit plans asserted would present an overwhelming number of individual issues. The court concluded that a class action is not the superior method by which to adjudicate such a dispute and ultimately could require a multitude of mini-trials pertaining to the individual circumstances of rotators. Accordingly, the provisions of Rule 23(b)(3) have not been met.
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