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Ward v. Carefusion Solutions, LLC

Superior Court of Delaware

December 4, 2018

STEVE WARD and FRANCIS TRESS A, individually and on behalf of all other similarly situated persons, Plaintiffs,
v.
CAREFUSION SOLUTIONS, LLC, Defendant.

         Upon Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint DENIED.

          Submitted: November 13, 2018

          Daniel C. Herr, Esq. (Argued), Jack D. Mclnnes, Esq., Attorneys for Plaintiffs and the Putative Class

          Elizabeth S. Fenton, Esq., Danielle N. Petaja, Esq., Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP, Matthew J. Hank, Esq. (Argued), Helga P. Spencer, Esq., Littler Mendelson P.C., Attorneys for Defendant CareFusion Solutions, LLC

          OPINION

          MARY M. JOHNSTON JUDGE

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         This is a class action suit brought by Plaintiff workers against Defendant employer. The suit seeks to recover allegedly unpaid wages and work-related expenses. Plaintiffs allege that they should be classified as Defendant's employees rather than independent contractors. Plaintiffs claim that because they are employees, Sections 510, 1194, 1198, and 2802 of the California Labor Code entitle them to recover work-related expenses and overtime wages. Plaintiffs argue that California law controls because the Maintenance and Service Agreements ("Agreements") designate California as the choice of law. Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint, arguing primarily that California laws on which Plaintiffs rely do not apply to work performed outside of California.

         By Opinion dated March 13, 2018, [1] the Court granted Defendant's Motion to Dismiss without prejudice and granted Plaintiffs leave to amend the complaint. The Court held: "Though the contract is insufficient to create a cause of action under California law, it would not be futile for the Plaintiffs to amend the complaint to assert contract claims or claims based on labor laws in states in which Plaintiffs performed services."[2] In response to the Court's ruling, Plaintiffs filed their First Amended Complaint on April 10, 2018. On August 17, 2018, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint.

         In Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs argue that because the Agreements are contrary to public policy and/or violate express mandates of one or more statutes, they are void and/or unenforceable. Plaintiffs also assert that the nature of Plaintiffs' and Defendant's employment relationship establishes Plaintiffs as employees rather than independent contractors. Plaintiffs argue that despite the nature of the relationship, Defendants misclassify the Plaintiffs as independent contractors and fail to comply with California labor laws or alternative labor laws. Plaintiffs argue this renders the Agreements violative of public policy. Essentially, Plaintiffs argue that Defendant uses unlawful Agreements to misclassify Plaintiffs as independent contractors and reap the benefits of not having to pay them like employees.

         Defendant argues that the Motion to Dismiss should be granted because: Plaintiffs' claim is preempted by statute and by contract; unjust enrichment is not a freestanding claim under California law; Plaintiffs improperly attempt to apply California and Delaware law; Plaintiffs fail to plead facts suggesting unjust enrichment can be proven on a class-wide basis; and Plaintiffs' claims sound in equity, therefore the jury demand should be stricken.

         Plaintiffs contend that their claims are not preempted by statute or contract. Further, California law recognizes unjust enrichment as a quasi-contract claim for restitution, and California law, or alternatively Delaware law, applies extraterritorially. Finally, Plaintiffs have plead facts establishing that unjust enrichment can be proven on a class-wide basis.

         Defendant countered that Plaintiffs' quasi-contract theory is a veiled attempt to proceed under the California labor code, which the Court already has decided does not apply extraterritorially. Defendants also argue that the Court should not allow Plaintiffs to proceed under a "multi-state patchwork" of unjust enrichment claims. Defendants make arguments similar to those found in their opening brief, adding that Defendants' argument to strike the jury demand is currently unopposed.

         Oral argument was heard on November 13, 2018. Defendant argued that Plaintiffs' amended complaint added nothing new to the original complaint and should be similarly dismissed.

         MOTION TO ...


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