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L. HAFT v. UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION (04/12/82)

filed: April 12, 1982.

L. HAFT, ROBERT HAYDEN, W. TANDARIC, HERMAN E. WANDREI, E.E. STIEGERWALD, AND ANTHONY RUSTIC, ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND ALL OTHER SIMILARLY SITUATED PERSONS WHO WERE WITHIN SIX YEARS BEFORE THE FILING OF THIS ACTION MANAGEMENT EMPLOYEES OF UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION AT EDGAR THOMSON, IRVIN, VANDERGRIFT, OR HOMESTEAD WORKS OF EASTERN STEEL, WHO OCCUPIED, WHEN SO FORMERLY EMPLOYED, FOREMAN OR GENERAL TURN FOREMAN POSITIONS (EXCLUDING GENERAL FOREMEN) OR OTHER EQUIVALENT MANAGEMENT POSITIONS BELOW THE LEVEL OF GENERAL SUPERVISOR IN STAFF AND SERVICE DEPARTMENTS AND WHO, WHILE SO FORMERLY EMPLOYED, WERE ELIGIBLE FOR BUT NOT PAID OVERTIME AND SUNDAY AND HOLIDAY COMPENSATION PROVIDED FOR SUCH EMPLOYEES BY UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION, APPELLANTS,
v.
UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION



No. 1003 Pittsburgh, 1980, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Civil Division, at GD 79-17172.

COUNSEL

Henry G. Beamer, III, Pittsburgh, for appellants.

James T. Carney, Pittsburgh, for appellee.

Cercone, President Judge, and Brosky and Hoffman, JJ.

Author: Hoffman

[ 305 Pa. Super. Page 112]

Appellants contend that the lower court erred in: (1) applying the three-year statute of limitations of the Wage Payment and Collection Law*fn1 to their claim; and (2) denying their motion for class action certification. We agree and, accordingly, reverse and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Appellants filed a class action in assumpsit on June 26, 1979, seeking to collect payments for certain Sunday, holiday, and overtime work performed for appellee, United States Steel Corporation. Appellants are retired foremen and management personnel below the level of general supervisor, who allege they were eligible for but not paid the compensation. They seek to represent a class of similarly-situated employees at appellee's Edgar Thomson, Irvin, Vandergrift, and Homestead Works. After a class certification

[ 305 Pa. Super. Page 113]

    hearing on July 23, 1980, the lower court granted appellee's motion for partial summary judgment, holding that appellants' claims were partially barred by a three-year statute of limitations, and denied appellants' motion for class certification. This appeal followed.*fn2

I.

Appellants contend the lower court erred in applying the three-year statute of limitations of the Wage Payment and Collection Law (Wage Law) to their claim. We agree. The lower court applied this statute of limitations on the ground that the Wage Law is the exclusive remedy for the collection of "wages" as defined in that act. 43 P.S. ยงยง 260.2a, 260.9a. Our Court specifically rejected such an interpretation in the companion case of Todora v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., 304 Pa. Superior Ct. 213, 450 A.2d 647 (1982). Consequently, appellants' action may properly proceed in assumpsit, subject to the appropriate statute of limitations. Accordingly, we reverse the lower court's application of the statute of limitations.

II.

Appellants contend also that the lower court abused its discretion in denying their motion for class certification. We agree. The Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure specify five requirements for class certification -- numerosity, commonality, typicality, adequacy of representation, and fairness and efficiency. Pa.R.Civ.P. 1702. They specify also certain criteria the court must consider in determining the last two of these requirements. Pa.R.Civ.P. 1708, 1709. A lower court's order concerning class certification is a mixed finding of law and fact and will not be disturbed on appeal unless the court failed to consider the requirements of the rules or abused its discretion in applying them. Janicik v. Prudential Insurance Co. of America, 305 Pa. Superior Ct. 109, 451 A.2d 445 (1982). In a class certification hearing the

[ 305 Pa. Super. Page 114]

    burden of proof is upon the party seeking such certification. Id. Accord, Klemow v. Time, Inc., 466 Pa. 189, 352 A.2d 12 (1975), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 828, 97 S.Ct. 86, 50 L.Ed.2d 91 (1976); Scott v. Adal, Corp., 276 Pa. Superior Ct. 459, 419 A.2d 548 (1980). The lower court held that the requirements of numerosity, commonality, and typicality were satisfied, but it denied certification on the grounds that appellants failed to prove the adequacy ...


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