QUICK UPDATE (AS OF NOVEMBER 13, 2013): The court has officially approved the settlement in all respects. The court directed the court clerk to enter judgment. Payment should be by January 10, 2014, assuming everything goes according to plan.
For the latest updates, follow @StraussLawFirm on Twitter [follow_me] On October 7, 2011, Doug Ladore filed a class action lawsuit against Ecolab, Inc. Plaintiff, on his own behalf and on behalf of the putative class of other similarly situated employees in California, seeks reimbursement of unpaid overtime wages for the time period of on or about August 11, 2008 through the present. He also seeks penalties, interest, and an award of attorney’s fees and costs. Below are some frequently asked questions regarding this case. If you do not see an answer to your specific question, please use the comments form at the bottom of the article.
What are the important dates in this case?
The trial date and all related dates have been vacated pending the approval of a class action settlement.
What is the status of the case?
The case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on October 7, 2011. Ecolab subsequently removed the case to federal court in the Central District of California. It is pending as Case 2:11-cv-09386-GAF-FMO. On April 11, 2012 the court certified the case as a class action. (See the class definition in the next section.) The court held that the case for unpaid daily overtime and attendant penalties can proceed as a class action. Importantly, the court determined that Defendant’s main exemption, the hazardous materials exemption, does not apply: “On the basis of the record before it, the Court concludes that putative class members do not use the relevant materials in quantities sufficiently large to be subject to regulation by the Department [of Transportation], rendering the haz/mat exemption inapplicable.” On April 26, 2012, Ecolab filed a Petition for appellate review of the April 11, 2012 order granting class certification. The Petition asks the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to take up an appeal of the class certification order. There is no stay of the state court action pending the appeal, unless otherwise ordered by the trial or appellate court. On May 8, 2012, Plaintiff Ladore filed an Answer to the Petition. On May 14, 2012, the trial court issued an order regarding the providing of notice of the class certification order to the class members. If you did not receive the notice, please contact us so we can update your address. On July 11, 2012, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal denied Ecolab’s petition for appellate review. On September 25, 2012, the trial court amended the class definition to include Select Segment Specialists for Ecolab in California from October 7, 2007 to the present. Now these individuals, so long as they do not opt out of the class, will become class members. The court also added Antonio Carbajal as a second class representative. On October 22, 2012, both parties moved for summary judgment/adjudication on the issue of whether the hazardous materials exemption applies in this case. The hearing on the motions is set for November 26, 2012. The judge may rule on the motions well after that date. Check in for updates. On November 26, 2012, the court took the cross-motions for summary judgment under submission. The parties did not argue their positions at any hearing. Instead, the court will rule on the motions based on the papers filed. We will update this page once the court issues its decision. As of January 2, 2013, the court has not yet issued its decision on the summary judgment motions. We will update this page once the court issues its decision. On January 23, 2013, the court issued is decision on the summary judgment motions, finding in favor of plaintiffs. On January 24, 2013, the case was transferred to Judge Fernando M. Olguin. On February 5, 2013, the court granted Plaintiffs’ ex parte application for order re: trial management plan. The court’s order is for Plaintiffs to take up to 55 depositions of class members regarding the damages they have sustained. The court’s order in effect provides for the parties’ expert witnesses to review the testimony given at those depositions, render their expert opinions based on that testimony, and give their own testimony at trial. The court also changed the trial and other important dates by about two months. The revised trial dates are set forth above. On February 22, 2013, the case resolved, subject to court approval. On April 2, 2013, Plaintiffs moved for preliminary approval of a class action settlement, to be heard on May 30, 2013. On May 30, 2013, the court heard Plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary approval. The court continued the hearing date on the motion until June 27, 2013. The court additionally requested that Plaintiffs file an amended complaint adding Mr. Carbajal as a class representative and expanding the class definition to include Select Segment Specialists. The court also ordered the parties to jointly file a motion to amend the Court’s April 2, 2012 class certification order to allow the court to make an evidentiary finding that the Select Segment Specialists are similarly situated to the previously certified Class Members, the Pest Elimination Service Specialists and Senior Pest Elimination Service Specialists. Finally, the court ordered Plaintiffs to file an Amended Motion for Approval of Class Action Settlement that added further details about the work performed, risks taken, and benefits conferred upon the class by the class representatives. If the court grants the motion for preliminary approval, class members can expect to receive a notice of settlement and claim form in mid-July 2013. We will post the notice of settlement and claim form on this website once they are approved. On June 27, 2013, the court heard the continued hearing on Plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary approval. The court instructed the parties to correct a date on the settlement agreement. The parties are in the process of correcting the date and filing the revised agreement. It is expected that the court will preliminarily approve the settlement soon thereafter. Once the court preliminarily approves the settlement, notices and claim forms will be mailed to the class members within about three weeks. We will update this website once the court preliminarily approves the settlement. On August 2, 2013, the court granted preliminary approval of the class action settlement. The Final Approval Hearing is scheduled for October 31, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. Claim Forms and Notices of Settlements will be mailed to all class members by on or about August 22, 2013. On November 12, 2013, the court granted final approval of the settlement and directed the clerk to enter judgment. The clerk entered the judgment on November 13, 2013.
Who is affected by the case?
The court certified the following class: “All current and former Senior Pest Elimination Service Specialists and Pest Elimination Service Specialists employed by Defendant Ecolab, Inc. in California from October 7, 2007 to the present.” AS OF SEPTEMBER 2012, THE CASE NOW ALSO INVOLVES SELECT SEGMENT SPECIALISTS DURING THE SAME TIME PERIOD.
What types of damages does Plaintiff seek?
Plaintiff seeks damages for unpaid overtime hours worked from on or about August 11, 2008 through the present. He also seeks various penalties available under the California Labor Code. Those penalties include a penalty under Labor Code section 226 for providing inaccurate paycheck stubs and assorted civil penalties under the Private Attorneys General Act.
How does the decision in the Roe v. Ecolab, Inc. case affect this case?
If you were a member of the class in the Roe v. Ecolab, Inc. case (Ventura County Superior Court case number CIV233936) and you continued working in the same position after August 11, 2008, then you likely would be affected by this case. Similarly, if you were a Senior Pest Elimination Service Specialist and/or Pest Elimination Service Specialist working in California at any point from August 11, 2008 through the present, then this case could affect you.
How do I get involved?
You may contact Class Counsel, Michael A. Strauss at Strauss & Strauss, APC, directly by emailing him using the contact form on this page. You may also call Strauss & Strauss, APC at (805) 641-6600. You can also post a question using the comment form below. All questions posted using the comment form will be reviewed by Strauss & Strauss, APC before being published.