Celadon Being Held to the Ruling in Favor of Drivers by the Eighth Circuit Court

In recent news, the Eighth Circuit was asked to reconsider their decision favoring a class of workers suing Celadon Trucking Services, but they refused to budge on the layoff notice ruling. In refusing to reconsider their ruling, the Eighth Circuit repeated their prior conclusions that the commercial trucking company should have provided drivers with notice prior to laying them off.

The Eighth Circuit’s brief order stated its intent to stand firm behind the July rejection of Celadon’s argument that it did not have a legal duty to provide a 60 day Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act notice in connection to the termination of over 400 Continental Express Inc. truck drivers. The mass layoff occurred after the company purchased Continental at the end of 2008 for $24.1 million.

The appeals court denied Celadon’s petition that took issue with the panel’s conclusion that the district court found the situation to be more than just a sale of assets. This conclusion effectively transferred the responsibility for providing workers with notice from Continental to Celadon. Celadon’s petition argued that the ruling was in conflict with both the Eighth Circuit and the U.S Supreme Court precedent. They pointed to questions of exceptional importance that they indicated the full appellate court should hear. They also included a challenge to the panel for endorsing a legally flawed basis for determining damages and liability for damages for the employees in connection to the rejection of claims that the lower court’s decision was founded on inadmissible evidence.

The class argued against Celadon’s attempt to have the case reconsidered in circuit court stating that the commercial trucking company had no new arguments to be considered and did not specify which evidence was objectionable. They argued that Celadon’s request for reconsideration was not valid because the district court and Eight Circuit panel did not commit any clear errors.

The suit was filed by drivers in January 2009 seeking damages under the WARN Act. The drivers obtained class certification for 449 employees (including full-time workers of Continental’s operations in Little Rock, Arkansas employed on Dec. 4, 2008, and suffering a employment loss as defined by WARN Act, but not in receipt of the mandatory 60 days notice of a plant closing/mass layoff.

The case was referred to a magistrate judge in order to establish whether the workers had sown that all 449 individuals qualified as class members. According to documents of the court, three individuals were excluded from the class before the workers were awarded $2.1 million in statutory damages.

Additionally, the Eighth Circuit panel defended the district court’s actions in denying Celadon’s motion to decertify the class of workers and in rejecting many of the findings of the magistrate judge. They found that the district court did not abuse its discretion.

If you have questions or concerns regarding class certification, mass layoffs or mandatory notice of plant closure or mass layoffs, please get in touch with one of the experienced southern California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik