District Court Dismisses Meal and Rest Break Claims Based on FMCSA Preemption Decision

On Friday, May 3, 2019, the Central District of California entered an order dismissing the meal and rest break claims of the plaintiff and absent class based on the December 28, 2018 decision from the FMCSA preempting the California meal and rest break rules as they apply to interstate drivers. See Ayala v. U.S. Xpress Enterprises, Inc. et al., Case No. EDCV 16-137-GW(KKx). Despite the plaintiff’s challenges to the FMCSA’s decision, the district court reasoned that it lacked authority to make any determination regarding the merits of the FMCSA’s decision. It could only enforce it.
There have been four different appeals filed with the 9th Circuit challenging the FMCSA’s decision. The district court explicitly conditioned the dismissal on the plaintiff’s right to seek reconsideration should the 9th Circuit reverse or possible stay the FMCSA’s decision on the appeal.

This is an important precedent for transportation companies facing meal and rest break claims in California. It provides a means to stop the litigation, including discovery on those claims, while the appeal is pending. It is important, however, to maintain California-compliant meal and rest break policies and practices for drivers working in California until the appeal is concluded.

For more information about the decision in the Ayala case, which is being defended by Scopelitis attorneys, or for help establishing compliant meal and rest break policies while the appeal is pending, please contact Jim Hanson, Adam Smedstad, Chris Eckhart, or Ashley Paynter.