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Dearmond v. Alliance Energy Services, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

July 25, 2017

DAVID DEARMOND
v.
ALLIANCE ENERGY SERVICES, LLC

         SECTION I

          ORDER AND REASONS

          LANCE M. AFRICK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is plaintiff’s motion to conditionally certify a collective action. See R. Doc. No. 15. For the following reasons, the motion is granted.

         I.

         The FLSA provides that an action to recover “unpaid overtime compensation . . . may be maintained against any employer . . . by any one or more employees for and [on] behalf of himself or themselves and other employees similarly situated.” 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). But the FLSA does not define “similarly situated” or otherwise explain how the certification of such collective actions should proceed.

         There are two main lines of authority that prescribe different methods of determining whether a case may proceed as a collective action pursuant to § 216(b). See Mooney v. Aramco Servs. Co., 54 F.3d 1207, 1213 (5th Cir. 1995). The first is known as “two-stage class certification,” which was developed in a line of cases starting with Lusardi v. Xerox Corp., 118 F.R.D. 351 (D.N.J. 1987), and the second is referred to as “spurious” class certification, as typified by Shushan v. University of Colorado, 132 F.R.D. 263 (D. Colo. 1990). Because the two-stage class certification procedure is routinely used by all sections of this Court, the Court finds that the Lusardi procedure is appropriate in this case. See also Wellman v. Grand Isle Shipyard, Inc., No. 14-831, 2014 WL 5810529, at *1-3 (E.D. La. 2014).

         The Fifth Circuit has explained the typical Lusardi procedure:

Under Lusardi, the trial court approaches the “similarly situated” inquiry via a two-step analysis. The first determination is made at the so-called “notice stage.” At the notice stage, the district court makes a decision-usually based only on the pleadings and any affidavits which have been submitted-whether notice of the action should be given to potential class members.
Because the court has minimal evidence, this determination is made using a fairly lenient standard, and typically results in “conditional certification” of a representative class. If the district court “conditionally certifies” the class, putative class members are given notice and the opportunity to “opt-in.” The action proceeds as a representative action through discovery.

Mooney, 54 F.3d at 1213-14 (footnote omitted); see also Acevedo v. Allsup’s Convenience Stores, Inc., 600 F.3d 516, 518-19 (5th Cir. 2010).

         The second stage of the Lusardi procedure “is typically precipitated by a motion for ‘decertification’ by the defendant usually filed after discovery is largely complete and the matter is ready for trial.” Mooney, 54 F.3d at 1214. Only the first stage is implicated by the instant motion.

         The “lenient standard” at the notice stage requires “nothing more than substantial allegations that the putative class members were together the victims of a single decision, policy, or plan.” Id. at 1214 n.8 (quoting Sperling v. Hoffman-La Roche, Inc., 118 F.R.D. 392, 407 (D.N.J. 1988)). However, “[w]hile the standard at this stage is not particularly stringent, it is by no means automatic.” Lima v. Int’l Catastrophe Solutions, Inc., 493 F.Supp.2d 793, 798 (E.D. La. 2007) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         “[A]n FLSA class determination is appropriate when there is a demonstrated similarity among the individual situations . . . [and] some factual nexus which binds the named plaintiffs and the potential class members together as victims of a particular alleged [policy or practice].” Xavier v. Belfor USA Grp., Inc., 585 F.Supp.2d 873, 877-78 (E.D. La. 2008). That determination is usually ...


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