SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit was recently urged to revive a former Medtronic Inc. salesman’s class action overtime lawsuit. The former salesman claims the medical device company failed to pay proper overtime to its sales associates in California in violation of California labor laws. Jonathan Sultan, the former Medtronic salesman, claims if his individual claims were settled with the company, other claims would not be able to proceed.
The Claim History
Sultan filed his class action lawsuit in May 2011. According to the class action claims, Medtronic miscalculated overtime payments when it failed to include a pay premium given to employees who worked through their meal breaks in its overtime rate-of-pay calculations. A federal judge denied class certification in July 2012, stating the proposed class lacked commonality. The judge believed each potential plaintiff would have to prove why or if they waived their meal breaks. If the employees voluntarily waived their meal breaks, Medtronic would not be liable for labor violations. The need for individual evaluation would complicate procedures, since each plaintiff would need the equivalent of a mini-trial. This would prevent one singular trial from resolving all claims, which is the purpose of a class action.
After the certification denial, Medtronic paid Sultan a judgment close to $19,000 to settle his individual claims. Even though Sultan accepted the judgment money, Sultan claims that the judgment did not release the company from the class action claims. However, when accepting the judgment, the court notes, Sultan never mentioned any other claims beyond the individual claims. And the terms of the judgment state that the amount paid was for any liability claimed in the action. This could indicate that it was intended to cover any and all claims, including class action claims; if so, Sultan is likely barred from appealing the court’s denial of certification.
Accepting Settlements & Judgments
In many cases, the terms of a settlement or a judgment related to wage and overtime claims will include a statement that releases the company from liability for all or some of the issues and claims raised in the lawsuit. This means that, in order to receive the payout, the plaintiff has to give up their right to bring a separate lawsuit or appeal any decisions previously made in the ongoing lawsuit. The liability release provision is an incentive for the company to settle lawsuits instead of proceeding with lengthy and expensive litigation. It also provides plaintiffs in class actions the opportunity to accept the collective decision or to decline the offer and try for better or different results in a separate action.
For many reasons, not just the release of claims against an employer, it is very important to read and review any settlements or judgments presented in wage and overtime lawsuits. Our experienced team of overtime pay lawyers can help you bring an overtime claim, review settlement offers, and evaluate your options. Contact us today at (855) 754-2795 or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form to discuss 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.