Category Archives Judge Gaitan

Judge Gaitan, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District, recently issued an order answering what appears to be an issue of first impression for 8th Circuit courts: does a federal district court retain jurisdiction to rule on a motion for reconsideration on an order to remand made under CAFA?  In Wingo v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., No. 13-3097, 2013 WL 3872199 (W.D. Mo. July 25, 2013), Judge Gaitan answered the question in the affirmative, continuing the broad interpretation in favor of federal jurisdiction for class actions under CAFA. Although Judge Gaitan noted the dearth of case law on the issue, he noted that the "Seventh Circuit has treated reconsideration by district courts in a CAFA case as a proper exercise of jurisdiction" and found such authority to be persuasive in the absence of any contrary authority. Id. at *2, citing Natale v. General Motors, No. 06–8011, 2006 WL…

Under the “careful what you ask for” category, Judge Gaitan faced an incongruous situation in this wage and hour class action brought against Farmland Foods.   In an FLSA and MMWL class that had been filed in 2010 and certified a year ago, Plaintiffs moved prevent Farmland from changing the very “doffing and donning “ policies it was challenging.  Specifically, having learned from Farmland’s employees that certain policy changes were being implemented, class counsel sought an evidence preservation order enjoining Farmland from changing its employment policies, and sought an order granting class counsel video access at any time within a prescribed 30-day window to observe and document these employment activities.   Plaintiffs argued that a preservation order was necessary to avoid the “irreparable injury” that would occur from what it termed “serial changes mid-litigation to its operational and compensation policies . . . and to allow the Court to render effective relief…

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has enforced an arbitration agreement requiring an employee to arbitrate – on a non-class basis – her wage claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act.  This decision is in line with the decisions of several other federal courts of appeal to consider whether the FLSA’s collective action provisions provide employees a federal right that cannot be waived in the context of an arbitration agreement. In Owen v. Bristol Care, Inc., the Eighth Circuit held that an employee can contractually waive any such “right” to collectively pursue wage claims in court proceedings.  The court based its decision on the strong federal policy favoring arbitration, embodied in the Federal Arbitration Act and highlighted in numerous pro-arbitration decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts.  The Eighth Circuit distinguished a recent NLRB decision refusing to enforce an arbitration agreement, noting that the NLRB’s…

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