Employment Law Blog

Filter:  Howard Gunty Profit Sharing Plan v. Superior Court

Misleading Communications in Class Action Lawsuits

Misleading communications “pose a serious threat to the fairness of the litigation process, the adequacy of representation, and the administration of justice generally.” Cheverez, supra, at *4-6; Howard Gunty, supra, 88 Cal.App4th at 582. The “responsibility to monitor communications is heightened where potential class members are unrepresented by their own counsel.” Cheverez at *6. Courts have found that this responsibility is also heightened when an employer engages in unsupervised communications with its workers regarding a settlement offer. See Marino v. CACafe, Inc. (N.D.Cal. April 28, 2017) 2017 WL 1540717 (“in the context of class action litigation, whether pre- or post-certification, unsupervised communications between an employer and its workers present an acute risk of coercion and abuse.”)

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Limiting Pre-Certification Communication in a Class Action Lawsuit

“In the context of a class action, it is the court’s authority and duty to exercise control over the class action to protect the rights of all parties, and to prevent abuses which might undermine the proper administration of justice.” (Howard Gunty Profit Sharing Plan v. Superior Court (2001) 88 Cal.App.4th 572, 581 (citing Gulf Oil Co. v. Bernard (1981) 452 U.S. 89, 100–103).)

“Communications that misrepresent the status or effect of the pending action, or which may cause confusion, adversely affect the administration of justice.” (Howard Gunty, supra, 88 Cal.App.4th 572at 582.) “Where a trial court identifies a potential for abuse, the court ‘has both the duty and the broad authority to exercise control over a class action and to enter appropriate orders governing the conduct of counsel and parties.’” (Hernandez v. Vitamin Shoppe Industries, Inc. (2009) 174 Cal.App.4th 1441, 1454 (quoting Howard Gunty, supra, 88 Cal.App.4th at 579).

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