A California Court of Appeal refused to reinstate a meal break class action against The Walgreen Co. Thursday, criticizing the plaintiffs’ lawyers for filing dozens of identical witness declarations that were later recanted.
“There is nothing attractive about submitting form declarations contrary to the witnesses’ actual testimony,” wrote the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles.
“This practice corrupts the pursuit of truth. It was not error for the trial court to give these unreliable declarations no weight,” wrote Judge John Wiley, of the Los Angeles Superior Court, sitting by designation on the 2nd District panel.
Lawyers for lead plaintiff, Darryl Collins, submitted 44 form declarations from Walgreen workers that said they were forced to work through some meal breaks because the company was understaffed.
But when questioned, many of the witnesses recanted saying they had not been forced to forego meals but sometimes skipped lunch in order to leave early, or simply said they didn’t have a problem getting meal breaks.
The appeals panel upheld dismissal of the class action in a non-precedential order.
Wiley noted that the trial judge repeatedly said he was “appalled” by the identical declarations and “especially troubled” that so many witnesses recanted the declarations once deposed.
Most of the form declarations simply said that on some occasions “meal periods were not made available to me.”
Wiley was joined by Justices Victoria Chaney and Jeffrey Johnson.
Case: In re Walgreen Co., No. B230191