by Malani L. Kotchka, Lionel Sawyer & Collins
The Seventh Circuit held in Espenscheid v. DirectSat USA, LLC on February 4, 2013, that the district court was correct in decertifying a proposed class of subclasses because the trial plan submitted by the plaintiffs was infeasible. The technicians who installed and repaired home satellite dishes were paid on a piecework basis. They claimed they were forbidden from recording time for tasks such as calling customers, filling out paperwork and picking up tools from one of the company’s warehouses. The plaintiffs proposed to try the case by selecting 42 representative members of the class to testify. However, plaintiffs did not use any sampling methods in statistical analysis to select the 42 representatives. Moreover, they could not explain how these 42 representatives were representative of the class where every member of the class worked different amounts, worked different hours and were not paid the same wage. The court concluded that there may be no way a case will qualify for class treatment if the class members are each harmed to a different extent and many are not harmed at all.