Hawaii Employment Law Decisions Dec. 25, 2016 to Dec. 31, 2016 – Jeffrey S. Harris

U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

District court abused discretion by concluding former employee's failure to disclose wage and hour lawsuit during bankruptcy judicially estopped her from later filing it.  She was not aware of enough facts to know she had a legal claim until she retained counsel about a month before her bankruptcy case was dismissed.  The bankruptcy court did not rely on her nondisclosure because it dismissed her case for noncompliance with a payment plan.  Sadlowski v. Michaels Stores, Inc., 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 23349 (9th Cir. Dec. 28, 2016).

Note: We analyze cases to learn rules the courts will follow or disappoint us if they don't. Rules that the courts follow allow us to behave and provide explanations they accept. But competent advocates may limit the rules to the facts of the case where they are discussed, or expand rules by showing that differences in other cases are irrelevant.

U.S. District Court for District of Hawaii

District court approved settlement of FLSA claims.  Objecting employee agreed to settle, because he signed a term sheet providing his share of the settlement amount would be paid according to a formula provided by plaintiffs' counsel.  The settlement was fair and reasonable, given the risk, expense, complexity and likely duration of further litigation, amount offered, the extent of discovery completed and the stage of proceedings, the experience and views of counsel, and the reaction of the plaintiffs.  The court modified the limitation of overtime to employees earning over $100,000 per year, understanding the USDOL may increase the amount for highly compensated employee.  Kaiaokamalie v. Matson Terminals, Inc., 2016 U.S. Dist. 179737 (D. Haw. Dec. 29, 2016).

District court denied motion to dismiss interference with contract claim.  Employees at will contract could support the claim.  The claim was not barred by the statute of frauds because it could be performed in one year.  The mayor in his personal capacity could interfere with a contract between the county and the employee.  Donenfeld v. Cty. of Maui, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 179231 (D. Haw. Dec. 28, 2016).