While he waits to hear if he’s killed Dukes dead, Wackenhut will have to do.
Theodore Boutrous, the Gibson Dunn & Crutcher partner who got the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out one of the largest discrimination class actions of all time, won a significant employment law victory in Los Angeles Superior Court this week for his client, a Florida-based security firm. Judge William Highberger decertified a hefty class of 130,000 Wackenhut Corp. workers suing for lost meal breaks, and liberally cited the highest court’s decision in Wal-Mart v. Dukes along the way.
It was no doubt gratifying for Boutrous to see his work in Dukes so relied upon, but it’s likely he’s just drumming his fingers waiting for the next installment in the Dukes drama.
The plaintiffs weren’t deterred by Boutrous’ success with SCOTUS, and filed a smaller, regional suit in the Northern District of California last year. Boutrous and Wal-Mart have moved to throw that case out, too, perhaps putting a nail in the coffin of what was once a 1.6 million-woman strong class of Wal-Mart workers. The regional suit, composed of 90,000 workers, is a shadow of its former self, but the employment law bar is watching closely. Among other hot topics: Just how small does a class need to be to proceed manageably? Boutrous has spent the last eight years persuading judges that the answer is very small.
U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer is due to hand down his decision any day now. We’re all waiting — even if we’re momentarily distracted by defense wins like Wackenhut.