CRST sleeper berth wage lawsuit denied class action status
December 10, 2020
A lawsuit seeking lost wages from CRST due to unpaid time in a sleeper berth has been denied class certification in a federal court.
On Dec. 7, a California federal district court denied Christopher Dueker’s bid for class certification in a lawsuit against Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based CRST. Dueker, a former CRST driver, accuses the company of not paying him for all tasks performed and for all rest periods. His case is based on sleeper berth time in a team driver setting.
In the complaint, Dueker claimed he and about 5,700 current and former CRST truckers are subject to compensation. According to the court’s latest order, Dueker’s claims are based on the idea that time spent in the sleeper berth of a truck moving in California is compensable because such movement amounts to CRST’s control over drivers under California law.
Dueker claimed that CRST drivers are compensated on a per-mile rate between 25 cents to 33 cents. According to the complaint, he worked an average of 10-14 hours per day, seven days a week. That excludes sleeper berth, layover and 34-hour reset time. Dueker argues CRST failed to compensate drivers for the following tasks:
- Waiting to receive route assignments.
- Waiting to deliver and/or pickup.
- Fueling and washing trucks.
- Pre- and post-trip inspections.
- Completing paperwork.
- Performing basic truck maintenance.
- Scaling loads.
- Communicating with dispatch, shippers, etc.
- Layovers and standby time.
- Hooking and unhooking trailers.
- 34-hour reset time.
- Sleeper berth time.
- Setting tandems.
- Route planning.
Dueker calculated that in addition to the weekly 34-hour restart, he spent out about 10-12 hours a days in sleeper berth time and 45 minutes to three hours performing other nondriving tasks. Additionally, he estimated anywhere from one to 20 hours per week spent in layover time. The lawsuit claims that CRST drivers are owed compensation for those times per California law.
The lawsuit identifies two class categories. The minimum wage subclass includes all California residents employed by CRST as a truck driver who logged sleeper berth time within the territorial boundaries of California during which there was some truck movement. Waiting time penalty subclass members include the first subclass, who no longer work for CRST.
Responding to the motion to certify the class, CRST argued that Dueker’s expert report, compiled by Aaron Woolfson, that analyzed time-keeping and payroll data is unreliable. Essentially, the data does not indicate where the truck was moving and data was inconsistent. For example, the analysis estimated nearly 15 hours for a 172-mile trip. However, that trip, using the expert’s own tool, should only take just under three hours.
“Woolfson’s reports and deposition transcript demonstrate that his methodology is not peer-reviewed and unnecessarily difficult, if not impossible, to test or replicate,” the court determined.
The court further explained that CRST’s expert provided a persuasive analysis showing that Woolfson’s computer code did not function when using his own database. Consequently, the court granted CRST’s motion to exclude Woolfson in litigation.
Without that data available, the court also determined that Dueker’s claims cannot be verified on a classwide basis. In other words, with so many variables in reported on- and off-duty time, each claim would need to be analyzed individually. As a result, class certification for the lawsuit as it stands was denied.
The court’s latest order did not judge the merits of Dueker’s wage claims. However, if Dueker wants to proceed with the case, he will either have to be the sole plaintiff or amend the complaint to address issues found with the current complaint regarding class action status. Dueker can also appeal the court’s denial of class certification. LL