Following down the road paved late last year by the Ninth Circuit in Am. Trucking Ass’ns, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles, (ATA II), 660 F.3rd 384 (2011), and the Southern District of California in Dilts v. Penske Logistics LLC (discussed here), Judge Jacqueline Nguyen in the Central District of California has dismissed a putative class action brought by a group of route delivery drivers against Performance Food Group in Esquivel v. Vistar Corp. dba Roma Food and dba Performance Food Group.pdf, Central District of California Case No. 2:11-cv-07284-JHN-PJWx.
The plaintiffs in Esquivel claimed that throughout their employment, the defendants scheduled their delivery routes in a way that prevented the drivers from taking duty-free meal breaks and that time pressures to make deliveries by a certain time of day also prevented them from taking breaks. The plaintiffs further alleged that their wage statements were inaccurate because they did not include amounts allegedly due for missed meal break premiums.
Defendant Performance Food Group moved to dismiss the case on the grounds that the plaintiffs’ claims were preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (“FAAAA”), 49 U.S.C. § 14501 et seq. The Court agreed and dismissed the case, finding the reasoning in Dilts applicable and persuasive, and that, as in Dilts, “‘the length and timing of meal and rest breaks seems directly and significantly related to such things as the frequency and scheduling of transportation,’ such that requiring off-duty breaks ‘at specific times throughout the workday . . . would interfere with competitive market forces within the . . . industry.” (quoting Dilts, 2011 WL 4975520 at *9).
The plaintiffs argued that the FAAAA does not preempt California’s meal and rest break laws by citing to various state and federal cases, which the Court found were either “fundamentally distinguishable” from cases involving meal and rest break laws or unpersuasive because they predated ATA II and Dilts. The plaintiffs further argued that Dilts was an “outlier decision” and was “wrongly decided”, but the Court disagreed, finding that Dilts applied a novel test enunciated by the Ninth Circuit in ATA II to cover a previously unanswered question regarding FAAAA preemption.
The Bottom Line: Support is growing for motor carriers to dispose of California meal and rest break claims.