University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Cruz v. Dollar Tree Stores EE-CA-0345
Docket / Court 3:07-cv-02050-SC ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Special Collection Post-WalMart decisions on class certification
Private Employment Class Actions
Case Summary
On April 11, 2007, two individuals, both store managers of Dollar Tree Stores, filed this class action lawsuit against Dollar Tree in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The plaintiffs alleged that they were improperly classified as exempt managers and denied wages for ... read more >
On April 11, 2007, two individuals, both store managers of Dollar Tree Stores, filed this class action lawsuit against Dollar Tree in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The plaintiffs alleged that they were improperly classified as exempt managers and denied wages for overtime. On August 6, 2007, another plaintiff filed a substantially similar class action in California Superior Court, which Dollar Tree then removed to the same federal district court (Runnings v. Dollar Tree Stores, Case No. 3:07−cv−04012−SC). U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti was assigned to both cases. On August 30, 2007, Judge Conti signed a Related Case Order after finding that the two cases were similar. On November 20, 2007, the court signed a Joint Stipulation and Proposed Order for Consolidation of Actions signed by counsels for the parties. The Cruz case is designated as the leading case.

In their First Amended Complaint filed on July 27, 2007, the plaintiffs in the Cruz case claimed that the class members were harmed because Defendant illegally designated them as exempt employees and denied them overtime wages in violation of the California Labor Code and the Fair Labor Standard Act. For the violations, the plaintiffs asked the court for damages, injunctive relief and restitution.

On January 19, 2008, Dollar Tree filed motions for summary judgment in both actions. On July 8, 2008, in an unpublished order, the court found that triable issues of fact remain as to whether the plaintiffs' employment positions with Dollar Tree are exempt under both the California Labor Code and the Fair Labor Standards Act. Therefore, Dollar Tree's motions for summary judgment were denied.

On March 25, 2009, the plaintiffs moved for an order certifying the following class: "All persons who were employed by Dollar Tree Stores, Inc. as California retail Store Managers at any time on or after December 12, 2004." Starting the class period from December 12, 2004, ensures that any eventual awards to Dollar Tree Store Managers ("SMs") in this case will not overlap with the awards that resulted from a previous settlement. The plaintiffs alleged the class consisted of at least 655 members. Dollar Tree contended that the number was likely to be less, and that there were currently 273 SMs in California.

On May 26, 2009, in an unpublished order ("the Original Certification Order"), the court certified a class of "all persons who were employed by Dollar Tree Stores, Inc. as California retail Store Managers at any time on or after December 12, 2004, and on or before May 26, 2009," and appointed Plaintiffs as class representatives. The class consisted of 718 store managers ("SMs") who worked in 273 retail locations.

On June 18, 2010, in the wake of two Ninth Circuit decisions regarding employment class actions -- In re Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Overtime Pay Litigation, 571 F.3d 953 (9th Cir. 2009) ("Wells Fargo I"), and Vinole v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 571 F.3d 935 (9th Cir. 2009) -- Dollar Tree moved for decertification of the class, arguing that changes in the law made continued class treatment inappropriate. On September 9, 2010, in a published order ("the Partial Decertification Order"), the court granted in part and denied in part Dollar Tree's motion for decertification.

As explained in the Original Certification Order and the Partial Decertification Order, Dollar Tree required its SMs to complete weekly payroll certifications indicating whether they spent more than fifty percent of their actual work time each week performing seventeen listed duties that Dollar Tree believes to be "managerial" in nature. The certification form stated that SMs "may not spend more than a total of 35% of his/her actual work time each week receiving product, distributing and storing product, stocking product and cashiering." Each SM was required to certify "yes" if he or she spent the majority of his or her time performing the seventeen duties and "no" if he or she did not. The payroll certification form further stated that if the SM responds no, "s/he must immediately provide an explanation to both Payroll and Human Resources. No salary or wage will be withheld because of non-compliance." The form provided a space for SMs to write an explanation.

In its Partial Decertification Order, after reviewing the Ninth Circuit's decisions in Wells Fargo I and Vinole and examining subsequent district court reactions, Judge Conti decided that, with a modification of the class definition, this case could proceed as a class action. The court held that Dollar Tree's payroll certifications provided common proof of how SMs were spending their time. The court reasoned that this common proof -- which was lacking in other cases where classes were decertified after Vinole and Wells Fargo I -- would obviate the need for much individual testimony from SMs concerning how they spent their time.

However, the court narrowed the class to include only those SMs who certified "no" on a payroll certification form at least once during the class period. The court reasoned that, in order to prove liability with regard to the SMs who always certified "yes," the plaintiffs would need to show that these SMs were not truthful when completing their payroll certifications. Such credibility determinations would require individualized inquiries that would overwhelm the common issues in the case. By narrowing the class, the court sought to avoid this problem.

The Partial Decertification Order resulted in a class consisting of 273 members and defined as "all persons who were employed by Dollar Tree Stores, Inc. as California retail store managers at any time on or after December 12, 2004, and on or before May 26, 2009, and who responded 'no' at least once on Dollar Tree's weekly payroll certifications." The class definition has not been altered further.

Judge Conti subsequently reviewed motions from the plaintiffs and Dollar Tree addressing trial management issues, reviewed and denied a motion for reconsideration of the Partial Decertification Order filed by the plaintiffs, and held a May 27, 2011 hearing to discuss trial management issues. These developments, along with the Ninth Circuit's decision in Marlo v. United Parcel Service, Inc., 639 F.3d 942 (9th Cir. 2011) ("Marlo II"), made the court increasingly concerned that individualized issues will predominate over classwide issues if this case proceeds to trial as a class action. The court thus decided to entertain further briefing from the parties regarding the propriety of continued class treatment.

After the Supreme Court's decision in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 131 S.Ct. 2541 (June 20, 2011), on July 8, 2011, Judge Conti found that continued class treatment was not appropriate in this case and decertified the class. After the decertification of the class, many of the plaintiffs' other motions and claims unraveled quickly. The court first dismissed their bifurcation and first pre-trial motion, and then their claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act. On December 9, 2011, the parties jointly moved to voluntary dismiss the case. The court agreed and dismissed the case with prejudice.

Xin Chen - 07/30/2011
Megan Brown - 11/07/2016


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Defendant-type
Retailer
Discrimination-area
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Pay / Benefits
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219
State law
Defendant(s) Dollar Tree Stores, Inc.
Plaintiff Description All persons who were employed by Dollar Tree Stores, Inc. as California retail store managers at any time on or after December 12, 2004, and on or before May 26, 2009, and who responded "no" at least once on Dollar Tree's weekly payroll certifications.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement Voluntary Dismissal
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2011
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
Case Studies Megacases, Diversity, and the Elusive Goal of Workplace Reform
Written: Mar. 01, 2008
By: Nancy Levit (University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law)
Citation: 49 B.C. L. Rev. 367 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Second Generation Employment Discrimination: A Structural Approach
By: Susan Sturm (Columbia Law School)
Citation: 101 Colum. L. Rev. 458 (2001)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
3:07-cv-04012-SC (N.D. Cal.) 07/18/2011
EE-CA-0345-9001.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
3:07-cv-02050-SC (N.D. Cal.) 05/03/2012
EE-CA-0345-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Damages, Injuntive Relief and Restitution 04/11/2007
EE-CA-0345-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and Memorandum 05/09/2007
EE-CA-0345-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss 06/08/2007
EE-CA-0345-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Fraud Claim 06/29/2007 (2007 WL 1880380) (N.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0345-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint for Damages, Injunctive Relief and Restitution 07/27/2007
EE-CA-0345-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint and Memorandum 08/09/2007
EE-CA-0345-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss 08/31/2007
EE-CA-0345-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Related Case Order 08/31/2007 (N.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0345-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the Seventh Cause of Action in Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint 09/18/2007 (2007 WL 2729214) (N.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0345-0009.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment as to John Hansen and Memorandum 01/19/2008
EE-CA-0345-0010.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff John Hansen's Brief in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment 02/29/2008
EE-CA-0345-0011.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment as to John Hansen and Robert Runnings 07/08/2008 (2008 WL 2705087) (N.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0345-0012.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Amended Motion for Class Certification and Memorandum 03/25/2009
EE-CA-0345-0013.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Amended Motion for Class Certification 05/26/2009 (2009 WL 1458032) (N.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0345-0014.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Re: Notice to the Class 07/02/2009 (2009 WL 1974404) (N.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0345-0026.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendant's Motion to Decertify the Class and Memorandum 06/18/2010
EE-CA-0345-0015.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's Opposition to Defendants' Motion to Decertify the Class 07/02/2010
EE-CA-0345-0016.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendant's Motion to Decertify 09/09/2010 (270 F.R.D. 499) (N.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0345-0017.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Re: Motions 11/19/2010 (2010 WL 4807072) (N.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0345-0018.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Claims of Class Members Who Failed to Respond to Defendant's Discovery 12/23/2010
EE-CA-0345-0019.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's Memorandum in Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Claims of Class Members Who Failed to Respond to Defendant's Discovery 01/17/2011
EE-CA-0345-0020.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendant's Motion to Bifurcate the Liability and Damages Phases of Trial and to Set the Order of Presentation and Argument at Trial 02/03/2011
EE-CA-0345-0021.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Claims of Class Members Who Failed to Respond to Defendant's Discovery 03/08/2011 (2011 WL 843956) (N.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0345-0022.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's Memorandum in Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Bifurcate the Liability and Damages Phases of Trial 03/18/2011
EE-CA-0345-0023.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Decertifying Class 07/08/2011 (2011 WL 2682967) (N.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0345-0024.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Plaintiffs' Motion for Pretrial Order No. 1 and Defendant's Motion to Bifurcate 07/18/2011 (N.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0345-0025.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Conti, Samuel (N.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0345-0004 | EE-CA-0345-0008 | EE-CA-0345-0009 | EE-CA-0345-0012 | EE-CA-0345-0014 | EE-CA-0345-0017 | EE-CA-0345-0018 | EE-CA-0345-0022 | EE-CA-0345-0024 | EE-CA-0345-0025 | EE-CA-0345-0026 | EE-CA-0345-9000 | EE-CA-0345-9001
Spero, Joseph C. (N.D. Cal.) [Magistrate]
EE-CA-0345-9000 | EE-CA-0345-9001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Allen, Kevin Robert (California)
EE-CA-0345-9000 | EE-CA-0345-9001
Bainer, Matthew Roland (California)
EE-CA-0345-0013 | EE-CA-0345-9000 | EE-CA-0345-9001
Bissen, Eileen Marie (California)
EE-CA-0345-9000 | EE-CA-0345-9001
Cole, Scott Edward (California)
EE-CA-0345-0013 | EE-CA-0345-0016 | EE-CA-0345-0020 | EE-CA-0345-0023 | EE-CA-0345-9000 | EE-CA-0345-9001
DeSario, Molly Ann (California)
EE-CA-0345-0020 | EE-CA-0345-0023 | EE-CA-0345-9000 | EE-CA-0345-9001
Edgar, Donald S. (California)
EE-CA-0345-0001 | EE-CA-0345-0003 | EE-CA-0345-0005 | EE-CA-0345-0007 | EE-CA-0345-0011 | EE-CA-0345-9000
Fietz, Jeremy R. (California)
EE-CA-0345-0001 | EE-CA-0345-0003 | EE-CA-0345-0005 | EE-CA-0345-0007 | EE-CA-0345-0011 | EE-CA-0345-9000
Grady, J. Rex (California)
EE-CA-0345-0001 | EE-CA-0345-0003 | EE-CA-0345-0005 | EE-CA-0345-0007 | EE-CA-0345-0011 | EE-CA-0345-9000
Hicks, Steven Matthew (California)
EE-CA-0345-9001
Lin, Carrie S. (California)
EE-CA-0345-9000 | EE-CA-0345-9001
Vigil-Gallenberg, Rosa I. (California)
EE-CA-0345-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Berman, Beth Hirsch (Virginia)
EE-CA-0345-0010 | EE-CA-0345-0015 | EE-CA-0345-0019 | EE-CA-0345-0021 | EE-CA-0345-9000 | EE-CA-0345-9001
Eltanal, Rossana S. (California)
EE-CA-0345-9001
Gannon, AnnaMary Elizabeth (California)
EE-CA-0345-9000
Hernaez, Alex (California)
EE-CA-0345-0002 | EE-CA-0345-0006 | EE-CA-0345-0010 | EE-CA-0345-9000 | EE-CA-0345-9001
Johnson, Krista Stevenson (California)
EE-CA-0345-0019 | EE-CA-0345-0021 | EE-CA-0345-9000 | EE-CA-0345-9001
Links, Robert David (California)
EE-CA-0345-9001
McClain, Maureen E. (California)
EE-CA-0345-0002 | EE-CA-0345-0006 | EE-CA-0345-0010 | EE-CA-0345-0015 | EE-CA-0345-0019 | EE-CA-0345-0021 | EE-CA-0345-9000 | EE-CA-0345-9001
Vandall, Matthew P. (California)
EE-CA-0345-0015 | EE-CA-0345-0019 | EE-CA-0345-0021 | EE-CA-0345-9000 | EE-CA-0345-9001
Zaletel, Robert Louis (California)
EE-CA-0345-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -