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Chase Financial Advisors Denied Class Certification In Overtime Claim

LOS ANGELES — Financial advisers and trainees for Chase Investment Services Corp. (CISC) were denied class certification in California federal court recently. The advisers and trainees claimed the company misclassified them in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and California labor law and denied them the overtime wages to which they were entitled. The federal judge denied certification because the named plaintiffs were not typical or representative of the proposed class and taking their claims to trial would not be beneficial for class members.

The Claim

Michael Alakozai and Steven Pitts brought the lawsuit in July 2011 and sought class certification this August. The proposed class consisted of current and former CISC financial advisors or advisor trainees who received compensation on a commission or salary basis in California after July 2007. The plaintiffs claimed while working for CISC they received compensation on a commission basis, did not receive overtime pay, and were not informed they were entitled to a 30-minute meal break and therefore did not get them.

The Claim’s Plaintiffs

Both of the named plaintiffs filed for bankruptcy after filing this class action. The district court judge in the class action determined the bankruptcy proceedings would likely preoccupy the plaintiffs and will lead them to have defenses unique to their situation. These factors make the two lead plaintiffs atypical of the proposed class members and inappropriate representatives for the class. The court could not find enough evidence that continuing the class action would promote “judicial economy,” or be efficient, with the named plaintiffs.

It also does not appear to be fair or protect the rights of the other class members if the claim went forward. The court also found that even if the class action went forward and the plaintiffs succeeded in proving liability at trial, or proving they were misclassified, the court would most likely have to do an individual analysis for each class member in determining damages. This individual analysis would also make a class action inefficient.

Lead Plaintiffs

Lead, or named, plaintiffs are usually, but not always, the individuals who file the initial lawsuit. They are the ones who are listed in the court documents and are subject to a majority of the depositions, discovery, and other aspects of the litigation process. As such, the court expects the lead plaintiff’s claims, situations, and defenses to be representative of the other class members. If the lead plaintiff is not representative of the class, then the class action will be ineffective at resolving the claims of all of the class members in one trial. While the lead plaintiffs have a significant amount of responsibility and receive the majority of the focus, they also tend to receive additional payouts from any settlement or verdict, if there is one, for their time and efforts.

If you believe your employer has improperly classified you as exempt or has failed to pay earned overtime wages, you may have an overtime wage claim. Contact our experienced team of overtime pay lawyers today at (855) 754-2795 to discuss your situation and determine if an individual lawsuit or a class action suits your situation. If we accept your case, we will represent you under our No Fee Promise. This means there are no legal fees or costs unless you receive a settlement.

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