Case of the Month

Webb Law Group Represents Client Ameriguard to Defeat a 4.2 million Dollar Class Action Lawsuit After a 3 week Trial in San Diego
47 Trials Digest 16th 8
Court denies class action waiting time penalties, 410K payments reclassification.
Type of Case:
Labor & Employment – Wage Disputes; Pension & Benefits
Class Action
State: California
Court: San Diego County Superior Court/Central
Case Name:
Rettledge Vs. AmeriGuard Security Services Inc.
Docket/File Number:
Joan M. Lewis
Result Type:
Bench Trial
Result Date:
October 25, 2013
Result Amount:
The court denied the claim for waiting time penalties finding that defendant had a “good faith dispute” regarding its responsibilities to pay for a pre-employment qualification at a Navy gun range. The court also found the 401K contributions were benefits not wages and defendant met its burden to demonstrate that ERISA preempts State law and found that ERISA was the exclusive source of remedies for the 401K participants.
Plaintiff: S. Ward Heinrichs, Backstrom & Heinrichs, San Diego.
Defendant: Lenden F. Webb, Webb Law Group, Fresno & San Diego.
According to Defendant: Defendant AmeriGuard Security Services Inc. was a company that contracted with the U.S. Navy to provide security services a the 32nd Street U.S. Naval Base in San Diego, Calif. Plaintiff Monte Rutledge and other class members were individuals who applied to work for defendant as security guards on the contract. Plaintiffs claimed that before the security guards stood post for defendant starting Jan. 1, 2009, the class members were required to train and qualify with the Beretta M9 pistol and shotgun. The security guards were not paid for that time until approximately June 2011, almost 6 months after the Navy contract terminated. Plaintiffs also claimed defendant paid 401K “wages” approximately 90 days after they were earned and paid final 401K “Wages” that class members earned anywhere from 27 to 455 days after they were terminated.
Defendant contended the reason it did not pay for the pre-employment qualification was because it had a “good faith belief” under Cal. Code Regs. 13520 that the gun range qualification was a pre-employment requirement. FInally, defendant contended that employer contributions to 401K plans were not a wage, regardless of any errors in their funding, and that ERISA had exclusive jurisdiction of 401K issues.
Claimed injuries:
Claimed Damages:
According to Defendant: $4,200,000 damages
Settlement Discussions:
According to Defendant: Defendant made a $50,001 (Cal. Civ. Proc. Code 998) offer Feb. 14, 2011, which was rejected by plaintiffs on March 4, 2011. In August 2011, plaintiff demanded $4,200,000. In May 2012, plaintiffs demanded $1,000,000. In November 2012 plaintiffs demanded $1,796,460 at the Mandatory Settlement Conference. Defendant offered $10,000 in attorney fees and $1,500 for the named plaintiff at the MSC.
Expert Witnesses:
Plaintiff: Not reported.
Defendant: Martin McCann, C.F.P., L.U.T.C.F., financial planner, McCann Asset Management, Fresno, (559) 226-4546.
Expert Witness Comments:
According to Defendant: Not Reported.
According to Defendant: The complaint was field Feb 23, 2010.
Westlaw Citation:
2013WL 6053925
Trials Digest Citation:
47 Trials Digest 16th 8

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