Litigation Consultant Beats Jury Wage Suit Research Think Tank
A participant in a research focus group failed to show that she and other fictitious jurors were falsely classified as independent contractors rather than employees, in part because the focus group failed lasted only one day, a California federal court said.
Magna Legal Services LLC was retained to provide jury advisory services in a personal injury lawsuit to assess the effectiveness of the trial themes and refine the overall litigation strategy. Magna convened a one-day, face-to-face, jury panel discussion that included mock trial presentations and quizzes. It lasted about nine hours.
Plaintiff Naomi Guynn-Neupane was paid $ 260 for her time. Magna structures its discussion groups to prevent a person from participating continuously or repeatedly.
Guynn-Neupane has filed a potential class action lawsuit against Magna and Wilkins Research Services LLC, the company that recruited the participants. She alleged violations of California wages and hours laws, including non-payment of overtime.
Thursday, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California allowed summary judgment to defendants.
A number of factors support the classification of the bogus jurors as independent contractors, the court said. For example, the study lasted only one day, participants received a lump sum, and “Magna did not control the manner and means by which the false jurors fulfilled their essential role, which was to formulate their own.” opinions, ”nor did they control the substance or content of their comments, the court said.
Likewise, “the undisputed evidence establishes that Wilkins did not maintain the necessary control that an employer usually has over its employees,” said trial judge Virginia K. DeMarchi. “Other than advertising the study and recruiting participants according to Magna criteria, Wilkins had no role in planning or conducting the study, including the length of the study or the amount and the method of payment. “
Fitzpatrick Spini & Swanston and Diversity Law Group PC represent Guynn-Neupane. Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard Smith LLP and Littler Mendelson PC represent Magna and Wilkins.
The case is Guynn-Neupane v. Magna Legal Servs. SARL, ND Cal., # 5: 19-cv-02652, 09/30/21.