Attorney Cary Kletter filed three similar complaints against Thelen in two courts, and tried to intervene in a fourth case, all on behalf of Todd Bennet, a librarian at Thelen for 29 years, and Matthew Troup, a clerical worker for a little over a year.
Attorneys for Thelen had threatened to seek sanctions against Kletter for allegedly violating federal court rules, saying he was bogging down the courts just so he could rack up legal fees for himself.
A week after a federal judge told Kletter’s clients they couldn’t intervene in a class action in the Northern District of California brought by former Thelen employees seeking unpaid wages from the firm, Kletter filed a second class action in the district on essentially the same claims.
Early on Friday, Kletter was defending the decision to file the separate class action because it included more claims involving unfair business practices and unjust enrichment.
And then he wasn’t. After the jump.
But by late Friday afternoon, he said his clients, at the request of Thelen, had decided not to pursue the case, and it would likely be “resolved or dismissed soon.” Bennet and Troup are automatically members of the class in the first federal case.
Kletter, the sole principal at The Kletter Law Firm, was the first to bring a suit against Thelen on behalf of its former employees, filing a complaint in San Francisco Superior Court on Nov. 12, about two weeks after the firm said it would dissolve on Oct. 28. However, employees can recover more money under the California WARN Act if they wait at least 30 days to file suit. On Dec. 29, Kletter requested his first superior court case be dismissed and on the same day filed an identical case with the second plaintiff’s name. The same federal judge who didn’t allow him to intervene in the federal class action had stayed that suit, pending the outcome of the federal case.
Kletter dropped the superior court case Wednesday, the same day he heard from Thelen’s lawyers at Latham & Watkins that they were preparing a motion seeking sanctions under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure if he didn’t drop the federal case.
The rule says when an attorney signs a filing, he or she is knows “it is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase the cost of litigation.”
The sanctions could have amounted to thousands of dollars, the equivalent of the cost accrued to attorneys who spent time responding to the allegedly unnecessary motions or cases.
Kletter said he acted solely in the best interests of his clients, with the goal of maximizing the recovery of their unpaid wages.
“If Thelen or its former partners simply paid those employees their overdue wages, no litigation whatsoever would be necessary,” he said.
— Amanda Royal
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