The case is Gamero v. Koodo Sushi, Corp., a summary order issued on October 18. The district court did rule for plaintiffs while finding defendants credible on some important issues. Judge Failla wrote:
Appellate courts are not going to lightly question the trial court's damages calculations following a bench trial. Plaintiffs say the district court did not properly calculate damages because it did not calculate their "regular rate of pay," which is the hourly rate. While the trial court resolved this in terms of how much plaintiffs were owed per week, it appears the court did base its calculations on a per hour "regular rate" of pay. For the most part, the trial court credited one of the plaintiffs with a standard 50-hour work week. For another plaintiff, the trial court settled upon a "regular rate" of pay of $5.00 per hour (the minimum wage plus tips and meal credits), finding that he was paid $65.00 per week on average. On the basis of that weekly average, the court aggregated what this plaintiff was paid throughout his employment and calculated the difference between that figure and what the labor law required management to pay him within the time period covered by this lawsuit.Plaintiffs all testified that they worked over 50 hours per week for most of their tenures at Koodo Sushi. They also claimed that Koo paid them fixed salaries—per shift for Gamero, and per week for Mastranzo and Sanchez—that fell below then-prevailing federal and state minimum wage statutes.But in general, Plaintiffs' accounts of their hours and wages did not square with the payroll records Defendants submitted. Relying on those records and Koo's recollection of how she operated her restaurant, Defendants argued that Plaintiffs had overestimated—and in Gamero's case, substantially overestimated—their hours. Defendants also contended that Koo paid Plaintiffs by the hour, at rates that met or exceeded minimum wage, either in the first instance or once certain credits were deducted..To be sure, the Court was troubled by many issues with Defendants' payroll records. Koo inconsistently tracked Plaintiffs' hours and wages. Some of her records are confusing; some are nearly illegible. But in the main, Defendants' account of Plaintiffs' hours and wages was more credible than the accounts Plaintiffs offered. Koo, in addition to evincing genuine concern for her employees' well-being, was by far the most credible witness at trial, and the Court largely accepted her testimony concerning the accuracy of the records she kept.
Plaintiffs also want liquidated damages under both state and federal labor law. The trial court did award plaintiff liquidated damages under state law. But the Court of Appeals recently held in another case that you cannot get duplicative liquidated damages under federal law (when the plaintiff already gets them under state law). That case is Rana v. Islam, 887 F.3d 118 (2d Cir. 2018).