Clark v. Honey-Jam Café: Seventh Circuit Declines Post-Comcast Review of Class Certification

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Earlier this week, a distinguished Seventh Circuit panel, consisting of Judges Richard A. Posner, Daniel A. Manion and David F. Hamilton, rejected a defendant’s petition to appeal an Illinois district court’s class certification ruling. Clark v. Honey-Jam Café, LLC, No. 13-8006 (7th Cir. April 22, 2013) (order denying petition to appeal class cert., available here).

In the underlying case, a class of tipped employees being paid a sub-minimum hourly wage alleged that they were required to perform non-tipped tasks for which they were not paid minimum wage as dictated by the FLSA. The Honey-Jam class was certified last month, a few days prior to the issuance of the Comcast v. Behrend ruling, where the Supreme Court found class certification inappropriate because individualized damages analyses would create a predominance of individual issues. The defendant argued that the Honey-Jam certification must be reviewed in light of Comcast, and that the district court failed to properly determine the predominance of collective issues over individual ones, specifically whether damages could be calculated class-wide.

The Honey-Jam order reinforces the contention of the dissenting justices in Comcast that the latter is a very narrow ruling, “good for this day and case only,” and that “the opinion breaks no new ground on the standard for certifying a class action under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3).” Comcast v. Behrend, 569 U.S. ___ (2013), slip op. dissent at 5, 3 (Ginsburg and Breyer, JJ., dissenting).