A federal appeals court denied appeal after the lower court granted certification of a class of deliverymen, who brougt action against their employer, San Diego's North County Times. The class was certified in the face of one judge's objections that the potential $18 million in damages could sound the paper's death knell.
The class includes nearly 800 newspaper carriers who claim they were wrongly classsified as independent contractors.
The newspaper carriers sued in 2008, claiming that the paper called them “independent contractors” to dodge labor laws on minimum wage, overtime and rest breaks.
The paper maintains that their work duties — picking up newspapers from the presses, assembling them offsite and delivering them with their own cars — are far enough removed from the paper's control that the carriers should not be considered employees.
The majority only briefly explained its decision not to hear the case — a one paragraph note says the court relied on the Ninth Circuit's decision in Chamberlain v. Ford Motor Co.
Even that decision, though, calls for class certification appeals where one of the parties faces a “death-knell” situation, the 9th Circuit's Judge O'Scannlain noted in the court's dissent.
“[Lee] faces a 'death-knell situation' because certification will expose it, a member of the struggling newspaper industry, to $18 million in liability,” he said. “I would grant permission to appeal.”