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Kolish v. Metal Technologies, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

July 21, 2017



          Mark J. Dinsmore, United States Magistrate Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to File First Amended Complaint for Damages. [Dkt. 76.] Plaintiffs were members of a class action against Defendants for non-neutral rounding wage claims in a case captioned Weil v. Metal Technologies, Inc., No. 2:15-CV-00016-JMS-MPB, 2017 WL 2306373 (S.D. Ind. May 26, 2017). On May 26, 2017, the Weil class was decertified. Plaintiffs now seek leave to file an amended complaint to add a claim for Defendant's alleged practice of illegal time card rounding. Based upon the following, Plaintiffs' Motion is GRANTED.

         I. Legal Standard

         Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that courts should freely permit a plaintiff to amend its pleadings as “justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). The Seventh Circuit has instructed that courts should generally allow amendment unless there is “undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment, or futility of the amendment.” Ferguson v. Roberts, 11 F.3d 696, 706 (7th Cir. 1993). An amendment is futile if it could not survive a motion to dismiss or a motion for summary judgment. Runnion ex rel. Runnion v. Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Nw. Indiana, 786 F.3d 510, 524 (7th Cir. 2015); see also Gen. Elec. Capital Corp. v. Lease Resolution Corp., 128 F.3d 1074, 1085 (7th Cir. 1997).

         II. Background

         This is an action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and Indiana Wage Payment Statute for unpaid wages caused by Defendant Metal Technologies, Inc.'s alleged treatment of recorded breaks of twenty minutes or less as uncompensated time. [Dkt. 76-1 at 1.] Fannie Kolish, one of two Plaintiffs, worked for Metal Technologies at its Bloomfield, Indiana manufacturing facility from September 11, 2014 until her voluntary resignation in April 2015. [Dkt. 76-1 at 2.] Kevin Graves, the other Plaintiff, worked for Metal Technologies at the same facility from February 2012 until his voluntary resignation at the end of October 2013. [Dkt. 76-1 at 2.] Metal Technologies manufactures different types of automobile parts at its Bloomfield plant. [Dkt. 76-1 at 3.] Kolish filed her original complaint on April 27, 2016 and Graves was granted permission to intervene on October 24, 2016. [Dkt. 1.]

         At the time of the filing of the original complaint, Kolish and Graves were members of a class action and FLSA collective action, captioned Weil v. Metal Technologies, Inc., to recover alleged unpaid wages and overtime compensation from alleged non-neutral rounding of time clock punches by Metal Technologies. 2017 WL 2306373. Plaintiffs' theory is that Metal Technologies rounds time down from employees' time records to the benefit of Metal Technologies, thus failing to compensate Plaintiffs for their actual hours worked.

         In Weil, the plaintiffs moved for partial summary judgment on the issue of liability regarding wage deduction and timekeeping claims including the non-neutral rounding claims. 2017 WL 2306373, at *3. The plaintiffs argued that there was no genuine issue of material fact because the time cards conclusively established Metal Technologies' liability for the illegal rounding. 2017 WL 2306373, at *3; see Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Metal Technologies moved to decertify the class, contending that the class members were not similarly situated. 2017 WL 2306373, at *12; see also Campbell v. Advantage Sales & Mktg., LLC, 2010 WL 3326752, *3-4 (S.D. Ind. 2010); 29 U.S.C. § 216(b).

         First, with regard to the Weil plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment, the Court found that the “threshold issue” was whether the time cards conclusively established the plaintiffs' actual work. 2017 WL 2306373, at *6; see also 29 C.F.R. § 516.2(a)(7)-(9) (employer requirements for maintaining and preserving payroll records). The Court found, in light of evidence that the time cards did not completely and accurately reflect the plaintiffs' work hours, that the time card records alone could not conclusively establish the hours actually worked by the employees. Id. The Court concluded that “genuine disputes of material fact exist regarding the issue of liability on Plaintiff's FLSA and IWPA claims, and therefore Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment is denied.” Id. at *11-12.

         Second, Metal Technologies moved to decertify the class. Regarding this issue, the court concluded that, because the time records could not conclusively establish liability, the plaintiffs had not “demonstrated adequate similarity to support class certification.” Id. at *14. Rather, each plaintiff would have to rely on distinct evidence demonstrating that she was actually working during the uncompensated time. Following the decertification order in Weil, Kolish and Graves moved this Court to add the non-neutral rounding claim to their complaint in this case.

         III. Discussion

         Once decertification had been granted on Defendant's motion in Weil, Plaintiffs Kolish and Graves filed this motion to amend their Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2). [Dkt. 76.] In response, Metal Technologies argues that Plaintiffs' Motion should be denied because the non-neutral rounding claim was rejected in the Court's decertification order. [Dkt. 77 at 2.] Specifically, Metal Technologies argues that the time cards Plaintiffs rely are not conclusive evidence that Defendant failed to pay wages for times they were clocked in outside of Plaintiffs' scheduled shifts. [Dkt. 77 at 2.] Defendant argues that the Weil court found the time cards presented by Plaintiffs “do not establish the key element that Plaintiffs actually worked during the hours represented on the time cards.” [Dkt. 77 at 3 (quoting Weil, 2017 WL 2306373, at *9).]

         In reply, Plaintiffs argue that Defendant appears to misunderstand the Weil Court's ruling to decertify the class and the rulings on summary judgment and that their rounding claim is not subject to claim preclusion or issue preclusion as it was not decided on the merits of the issue. [Dkt. 79 at 5 (citing Jones v. City of Alton, Ill. 757 F.2d 878, 885 (7th Cir. 1985)).]

         The procedural posture in Weil makes clear that the court did not render a decision on the merits of Kolish and Graves's proposed rounding claims. Rather, Weil determined that the members of the class were not similarly situated and that the time records could not establish the plaintiffs' entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. SeeFed. R. Civ. P. 56(a);see also Campbell v. Advantage Sales & Mktg., LLC, 2010 WL 3326752, *3-4 (S.D. Ind. 2010). In fact, while the Weil court held that plaintiffs could not conclusively establish liability based upon the time cards and payroll records alone, the court expressly determined that the plaintiffs could prove their theory of improper rounding with other evidence, even explaining how the “[p]laintiffs could, for ...

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