Akin Gump Defeats Class Action Claim over California Meal- and Rest-break Requirements for Ambulance Workers

(Los Angeles) – In a case that raised widespread concern in the private ambulance industry, Akin Gump won a key ruling at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on behalf of San Luis Ambulance. The company faced a putative class action over how California’s meal- and rest-break requirements apply to ambulance workers and emergency medical technicians who work 24-hour shifts, which include long periods of downtime between calls.

Plaintiffs argued that, under a recent California Supreme Court decision involving security guards, ambulance workers were not receiving proper breaks because, despite the long periods of inactivity, they could be called to work at any time. They contended that this prevented them from being “relieved of all duty” during breaks. 

After spending five years in appeals before both the California Supreme Court and the 9th Circuit, further briefing was ordered regarding the impact of a new state law that expressly provides that ambulance workers were receiving proper breaks. The 9th Circuit agreed that the new law foreclosed the plaintiffs’ meal- and rest-break claims and applied retroactively to the plaintiffs’ class action. The court then affirmed an earlier grant of summary judgment in favor of San Luis Ambulance.

The Akin Gump team handling the appeal comprised Supreme Court and appellate practice co-head Rex Heinke and senior counsel Jessica Weisel.

To read the ruling from the 9th Circuit, please click here.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is a leading international law firm with more than 1,000 lawyers and advisors in offices throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Founded in 1945, the firm is proudly celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2020. #AkinGump75

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