Williams v. U.S. Bancorp Investments, Inc.Annotate this Case
In the 2005 Burakoff class action, the court (in 2008) certified two subclasses of California Bancorp financial consultants for a period running through the date of the order. Subclass A “worked more than 40 hours in a week or 8 hours in a day, but did not receive overtime pay.” Subclass B were illegally required to pay their business expenses. Williams joined Bancorp in 2007, becoming a member of the Burakoff putative class. In 2010, he filed another class action, alleging similar causes of action for a class period beginning the day after the Burakoff class period ended, with consistent subclasses.
The trial court stayed the Williams case pending Burakoff's resolution. In 2011, the court decertified the Burakoff overtime subclass, for lack of sufficient commonality. In 2012, the parties settled Burakoff. Williams participated in that settlement as a member of Subclass B. He did not, nor did any absent members of Subclass A, release his wage and hour claims. Bancorp then demanded arbitration under an agreement Williams had signed. Bancorp argued the Burakoff decertification order collaterally estopped Williams from relitigating the appropriateness of class certification. Williams agreed to the dismissal of his claim for unpaid business expenses. Following a remand, the trial court granted a motion to compel arbitration of Williams’s individual claims, concluding that a class decertification order may have collateral estoppel effect.
The court of appeal reversed. An order denying certification to a proposed class does not preclude an absent member of the putative class from later seeking to certify an identical class in a second action; collateral estoppel does not bar an absent member in a putative class that was initially certified, but later decertified, from subsequently pursuing an identical class action.