ALEXANDRA KNOP, ET AL. v. PETER J. KNOP, ET AL. Additional Party Names: Diana Knop, James Cummings, No. 180329, 2019 WL 3484092 (Va. Aug. 1, 2019) Ticonderoga Farms is a family company that owns nearly 1,000 acres of land in fast-growing Loudoun County. The shares in the company are owned by Peter J. Knop (“Father”) and his three children. A dispute arose concerning what percentage of shares the children owned. The trial court concluded that — although Mr. Knop intended to make gifts of stock to his children for estate planning purposes — those gifts were never effectually made because they were never delivered to the children in the manner required by law. The trial court also rejected the children’s estoppel argument. The children appeal from this ruling. For the reasons noted below, we agree with the trial court that the shares were never delivered to the children. Thus, under the law, the gifts were not completed. We further conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the children relief under equitable estoppel principles. Accordingly, we will affirm the judgment below.

Plaintiffs are “agricultural workers imported from Mexico by Defendants to work in Defendants’ strawberry fields.” (Defendants are Rancho del Mar, Better Produce, Inc., C.J.J. Farming, Inc., all California corporations with their principal place of business in Santa Maria, California, and Juan Cisneros, Chief Executive Officer of all corporate defendants (collectively, “Defendants”).  Defendant Rancho del Mar “functions as a farm labor contractor for Defendants Better Produce and C.J.J. Farming.”
Plaintiffs “were recruited from Oaxaca to work for Defendants” under the “H-2A program.” Under the H-2A program, an agricultural employer may import workers to work in agriculture on a temporary basis.Employers file a temporary labor certification with the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) including a job offer, known as a “job order.” The “job order contains the terms to be offered to both foreign H-2A workers and domestic workers throughout the United States.”  The “terms and conditions of the job orders, together with the requirements of 20 C.F.R. part 655, constituted employment contracts for Plaintiffs, Opt-in Plaintiffs, and others similarly situated.”
Plaintiffs completed visa paperwork with an individual from the office of Defendant Better Produce.  Plaintiffs allege that they were “required to obtain a passport at their own expense without reimbursement from Defendants.” Further, Plaintiffs allege that they were “instructed to travel from Oaxaca to the U.S. Consulate” and were required to pay the cost of travel, hotel expenses, the fee to cross the U.S.-Mexican border, and the “subsistence costs on the travel from the border to Santa Maria, California.” These costs were “necessary to Plaintiffs and others similarly situated … and were not reimbursed by Defendants.”
Additionally, Plaintiffs allege that each season, a supervisor for Defendants “collected fees from each Plaintiff and others similarly situated in the amount of $675 U.S. Dollars.”  The supervisor “indicated that this fee was meant to cover some of the Defendants’ expenses in recruiting foreign workers. Plaintiffs also allege that their “return travel expenses were Defendants’ contractual obligation,” but Plaintiffs “arranged their own travel,” and paid their own expenses to return to their homes in Oaxaca.
While working for Defendants, Plaintiffs allege that they worked Monday through Saturday, and that “Defendants assigned work on most Sundays.”  For this seventh day of work, Defendants compensated Plaintiffs “without the required overtime premium” and “used a separate company controlled by them, C.J.J. Farming,” to “hide their violations of the law.”  Plaintiffs further allege Defendants did not compensate their travel and wait time to go to work, Plaintiffs did not always receive a timely meal period, a thirty-minute meal period, or required rest breaks.  Based on these allegations, Plaintiffs bring this suit claiming violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 209(a), violations of California’s Labor Code, violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law, and breach of contract.
Plaintiffs now move for conditional collective action certification under FLSA. Following oral argument on the present motion, the court ordered the parties to submit a revised proposed notice reflecting the parties’ agreed upon changes and identifying terms the party seeks to include and terms to which the party objects.  Accordingly, the parties submitted revised proposed notices.


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