On 06/01/2018 a Labor - Wrongful Termination case was filed by LOUIS GALLEGOS against G-H TRANSPORTATION INC in the jurisdiction of Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California.
Pending - Other Pending
Los Angeles County Superior Courts
Stanley Mosk Courthouse
Los Angeles, California
G-H TRANSPORTATION INC.
DOES 1 TO 50
PACIFIC TANK LINES [DOE 1]
6/18/2018: PROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS
6/26/2018: NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE
6/28/2018: ANSWER OF DEFENDANT G-H TRANSPORTATION, INC. TO COMPLAINT
7/31/2018: CASE MANAGEMENT STATEMENT
8/14/2018: CASE MANAGEMENT STATEMENT
8/30/2018: CASE MANAGEMENT ORDER
8/30/2018: Minute Order
8/31/2018: CIVIL DEPOSIT
9/6/2018: CIVIL DEPOSIT
9/10/2018: AMENDMENT TO COMPLAINT
10/24/2018: Proof of Service by Substituted Service
6/1/2018: COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES 1. VIOLATION OF REST PERIOD LAW (INDUSTRIAL WELFARE COMMISSION WAGE ORDERS; LABOR CODE 226.7); ETC
Answer; Filed by PACIFIC TANK LINES [DOE 1] (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
Proof of Service by Substituted Service; Filed by Louis Gallegos (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
Proof of Service by Substituted Service; Filed by Louis Gallegos (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
AMENDMENT TO COMPLAINTRead MoreRead Less
Amendment to Complaint; Filed by Louis Gallegos (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
CIVIL DEPOSITRead MoreRead Less
Receipt; Filed by G-H Transportation, Inc. (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
Receipt; Filed by Plaintiff/PetitionerRead MoreRead Less
CIVIL DEPOSITRead MoreRead Less
at 09:00 AM in Department 61; Case Management Conference (Conference-Case Management; Trial Date Set) -Read MoreRead Less
Case Management Statement; Filed by G-H Transportation, Inc. (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
Answer; Filed by G-H Transportation, Inc. (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
ANSWER OF DEFENDANT G-H TRANSPORTATION, INC. TO COMPLAINTRead MoreRead Less
NOTICE OF CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCERead MoreRead Less
Notice of Case Management Conference; Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
PROOF OF SERVICE OF SUMMONSRead MoreRead Less
Proof-Service/Summons; Filed by Louis Gallegos (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
SUMMONSRead MoreRead Less
Complaint; Filed by Louis Gallegos (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES 1. VIOLATION OF REST PERIOD LAW (INDUSTRIAL WELFARE COMMISSION WAGE ORDERS; LABOR CODE 226.7); ETCRead MoreRead Less
Case Number: BC708450 Hearing Date: November 21, 2019 Dept: 61
Defendant Pacific Tank Lines, Inc.’s Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED.
A party may move for summary judgment “if it is contended that the action has no merit or that there is no defense to the action or proceeding.” (Code Civ. Proc. § 437c, subd. (a).) “[I]f all the evidence submitted, and all inferences reasonably deducible from the evidence and uncontradicted by other inferences or evidence, show that there is no triable issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law,” the moving party will be entitled to summary judgment. (Adler v. Manor Healthcare Corp. (1992) 7 Cal.App.4th 1110, 1119.) A motion for summary adjudication may be made by itself or as an alternative to a motion for summary judgment and shall proceed in all procedural respects as a motion for summary judgment. (Code Civ. Proc. § 437c, subd. (f)(2).)
The moving party bears an initial burden of production to make a prima facie showing of the nonexistence of any triable issue of material fact, and if he does so, the burden shifts to the opposing party to make a prima facie showing of the existence of a triable issue of material fact. (Aguilar v. Atlantic Richfield Co. (2001) 25 Cal.4th 826, 850; accord Code Civ. Proc. § 437c, subd. (p)(2).)
Once the defendant has met that burden, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to show that a triable issue of one or more material facts exists as to that cause of action or a defense thereto. (Aguilar, supra, 25 Cal.4th at 850.) The plaintiff may not rely upon the mere allegations or denials of its pleadings to show that a triable issue of material fact exists but, instead, shall set forth the specific facts showing that a triable issue of material fact exists as to that cause of action or a defense thereto. (Ibid.) To establish a triable issue of material fact, the party opposing the motion must produce substantial responsive evidence. (Sangster v. Paetkau (1998) 68 Cal.App.4th 151, 166.)
Pacific argues that it is entitled to summary judgment for all of Gallegos’s claims because there are no triable issues of fact as to whether Pacific was Gallegos’s employer. (Motion at p. 5.) (See Martinez v. Combs (2010) 49 Cal.4th 35, 49 [“That only an employer can be liable, however, seems logically inevitable as no generally applicable rule of law imposes on anyone other than an employer a duty to pay wages.”]; CACI 2430 [describing first element of wrongful termination claim as “[t]hat [name of plaintiff] was employed by [name of defendant]”].)
“Employment” under California’s wage-and-hour law “has three alternative definitions. It means: (a) to exercise control over the wages, hours or working conditions, or (b) to suffer or permit to work, or (c) to engage, thereby creating a common law employment relationship.” (Martinez, supra, 49 Cal.4th at p. 64.) An employer “suffers” someone to work when they “permit by acquiescence” or “suffer by a failure to hinder,” but does not create an employment relationship where the “hiring, firing, and daily tasks” of the putative employee are not within the power of the putative employer. (Curry v. Equilon Enterprises, LLC (2018) 23 Cal.App.5th 289, 311.) The common law employment relation requires analysis of multiple factors:
The essence of the common law employment test “is the ‘control of details’—that is, whether the principal has the right to control the manner and means by which the worker accomplishes the work—but there are a number of additional factors in the modern equation, including (1) whether the worker is engaged in a distinct occupation or business, (2) whether, considering the kind of occupation and locality, the work is usually done under the principal's direction or by a specialist without supervision, (3) the skill required, (4) whether the principal or worker supplies the instrumentalities, tools, and place of work, (5) the length of time for which the services are to be performed, (6) the method of payment, whether by time or by job, (7) whether the work is part of the principal's regular business, and (8) whether the parties believe they are creating an employer-employee relationship. The parties' label is not dispositive and will be ignored if their actual conduct establishes a different relationship.”
(Curry, supra, 23 Cal.App.5th at 304–05, internal citations omitted.)
Pacific argues that it was not Gallegos’s employer under any definition, and relies largely on the declaration of Joseph Keith, Pacific’s CFO. Keith testifies that G-H and Pacific are separate petroleum-carrier companies with different owners, that neither involves itself in the other’s operations, that Gallegos was not hired by Pacific and never performed work for the company, and that Pacific did not pay or consult regarding the payment of Gallegos. (Keith Decl. ¶¶ 2–7.) Keith also testifies that Pacific did not control how Gallegos performed his work and did not control his termination. (Keith Decl. ¶¶ 5, 8.)
Gallegos argues in response the Pacific exercised substantial control over his employment. He argues that when he was hired by G-H, he was sent to Pacific’s facility for orientation, hazmat training, and to fill out background-check paperwork. (Rothman Decl. Exh. 2 at pp. 91–92.) At the orientation, Pacific provided Gallegos with a card describing emergency contact information for Pacific personnel. (Rothman Decl. Exh. 2 at pp. 98–99.) Gallegos also points to the declaration of Gary Galebyan, an officer with G-H, who testifies that G-H leases truck-cabs to Pacific (Rothman Decl. Exh. 1 at p. 9), that these cabs have Pacific’s name on the cab-door (Rothman Decl. Exh. 1 at pp. 11–12), that these cabs had GPS locator systems accessible only by Pacific (Rothman Decl. Exh. 1 at p. 12), that Pacific agents conducted ride-along tests with drivers of G-H-leased vehicles and did not share the results of those tests with G-H (Rothman Decl. Exh. 1 at p. 17), that G-H conducts road-tests of new drivers at Pacific’s behest, but that Pacific decides who passes or fails (Rothman Decl. Exh. 1 at pp. 63–64), that Pacific conducted mandatory safety meetings for drivers at the G-H facility (Rothman Decl. Exh. 1 at p. 35; Exh. 2 at pp. 51–52), and that Pacific was responsible for installing the onboard computer in the truck-cabs (Rothman Decl. Exh. 1 at p. 60.)
Gallegos also presents evidence that Pacific controlled his daily work routine by a process whereby the driver would call in to Pacific dispatch from the G-H facility, and then Pacific would fax over to the driver their delivery schedule for the day. (Rothman Decl. Exh. 1 at pp. 29–30; Exh. 2 at pp. 28–32.) Pacific dispatch could also change the order of deliveries at any time. (Rothman Decl. Exh. 1 at p. 80.) When Gallegos clocked in and out, it was on a computer installed by and communicating with Pacific dispatch. (Rothman Decl. Exh. 1 at p. 12; Exh. 2 at pp. 25–26.) Drivers who did not come in to work had to call Pacific dispatch to notify them. (Rothman Decl. Exh. 1 at p. 73.) Finally, G-H created checks for drivers based on bills of lading and invoices provided to the drivers by their refinery destinations, which the drivers then sent to both G-H and Pacific. (Rothman Decl. Exh. 1 at pp. 54–55; Exh. 2 at p. 42.)
The court finds that triable issues of fact exist as to whether Pacific was Gallegos’s employer within the standards articulated Martinez. The evidence presented by Gallegos suggests that Pacific exercised a substantial degree of control over the manner and means of Gallegos’s work: Pacific personnel assisted in Gallegos’s training and decided whether he had passed the road test administered by G-H. Gallegos’s time data was submitted in an onboard computer that was installed by Pacific, and Pacific had exclusive access to GPS data associated with the vehicle. Moreover, it was Pacific’s dispatch that told Gallegos what deliveries to make and in what order at the start of his day, and Pacific retained control over the order of those deliveries as the day went on.
Nor was Gallegos’s work outside the usual course of Pacific’s business. Pacific’s CFO acknowledges that his company is a “full service petroleum carrier,” whose 152 nominal employees include 101 drivers, like Gallegos. (Keith Decl. ¶ 2.) Pacific likewise describes G-H, the company it identifies as Gallegos’s employer, as a petroleum carrier in a similar vein. (Keith Decl. ¶ 3.) As in the illustration offered by the court in Curry v. Equilon Enterprises, LLC, Gallegos may reasonably be held akin to a cake decorator hired by a bakery in the usual course of its cake business, and not like an electrician hired by the same bakery to perform extraordinary electrical work. (See Curry, supra, 23 Cal.App.5th at p. 315.) The fact that Gallegos worked as a driver for a company that regularly employed drivers may reasonably imply that Gallegos was employed by the company.
The cases that Pacific cites are distinguishable. Unlike the produce merchant in Martinez v. Combs, who never “supervised or exercised control” over the employees of an intermediary agricultural grower, the evidence here suggests that Pacific determined Gallego’s daily schedule and had the right to change that schedule throughout the day, and even required Gallegos and other drivers to report to Pacific dispatch if they could not work that day. (Martinez, supra, 49 Cal.4th at pp. 76–77.) Nor is Pacific an independent payroll company hired to perform the ministerial task of managing payroll, as in Futrell v. Payday California, Inc. (2010) 190 Cal.App.4th 1419, 1432–33.) And finally, Pacific is not like the gas station owner in Curry v. Equilon Enterprises, LLC (2018) 23 Cal.App.5th 289, where a property-owner’s business tenant, and not the owner, possessed exclusive control over basic employment conditions like hiring, firing, discipline, scheduling, and time off. (Id. at p. 306.) Here, evidence suggests that Pacific was substantially involved in Gallegos’s hiring, i.e. by training him and clearing him on the road test, and possessed primary control over his work schedule and ability to take time off. Triable issues of fact exist as to whether Pacific was Gallegos’s employer.
Pacific’s Motion for Summary Judgment is therefore DENIED.