We have previously wrote about the recent success of California trucking companies defeating California meal and rest break claims by arguing that the laws are preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA). Specifically, Esquivel v. Vistar Corp., No. 2:11–cv–07284–JHN–PJWx, 2012 WL 516094 *6 (C.D. Cal. Feb. 8, 2012) (discussed here), and Dilts v. Penske Logistics LLC, 819 F. Supp. 2d 1109, 1124 (S.D. Cal. 2011) (discussed here), held that California meal and rest break laws relate to the rates, routes, and services of the defendant trucking companies, and consequently, were preempted by the FAAAA.
Hitching its opinion to Dilts and Esquivel, the court in Campbell v. Vitron Express, No. CV 11-05029-RGK (C.D. Cal. June 8, 2012), recently agreed that driver claims for missed meal and break periods under California law are preempted by the FAAAA as a matter of law. In Campbell, a city driver for Vitran Express claimed that Vitran did not allow meal and rest breaks and did not pay the plaintiffs for the missed meal breaks. Vitran moved for judgment on the pleadings, claiming that the FAAAA preempted the California meal and rest break claims.
In a succinct opinion, the court held that as a matter of law, California’s meal and rest break requirements related to the rates, services, and routes offered by Vitran. Citing Dilts and Esquivel, the court found that meal and rest breaks will affect the scheduling of transportation since the same route will take longer to complete if the driver is required to take breaks. Additionally, the court found that companies will be restricted to routes that can accommodate scheduled breaks. For these reasons, the court held that the FAAAA’s broad preemptive scope displaces California meal and rest break laws and granted the motion for judgment on the pleadings.
The Bottom Line: The FAAAA continues to provide California trucking companies with a potent weapon against California meal and rest break claims. However, the Ninth Circuit will ultimately decide the continued viability of this defense, as both Dilts and Esquivel are currently on appeal.