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Koch v. Jerry W Bailey Trucking Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

May 16, 2019

DANIEL KOCH and JOHNNY RAY WELLS, JR., on Behalf of Themselves and All Others Similarly Situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
JERRY W. BAILEY TRUCKING, INC., JERRY W. BAILEY and LINDA L. BAILEY, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          HOLLY A. BRADY JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Decertify Provisional Class and Collective Actions (ECF No. 126). For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion will be granted.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs allege that Jerry W. Bailey Trucking, Inc. (“JWBT”) violated both federal and state wage laws, the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., the Indiana Wage Payment Statute, Ind. Code § 22-2-5 et seq., and the Indiana Wage Claims Statute, Ind. Code § 22-2-9 et seq., by failing to pay employees for certain work performed off-the-clock. Plaintiffs claim that they are entitled to overtime wages, regular wages, and overtime premiums.

         On April 22, 2014, Plaintiffs filed their Motion for Certification and Notice of Collective Action Lawsuit and Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification (ECF No. 18). Rather than litigate the certification issue, on May 29, 2014, the parties filed their Joint Stipulation Regarding Conditional Certification, Class Certification and Distribution of Proposed Opt-In Notice (ECF No. 28). In that filing, the parties “elected to stipulate to conditional certification, preliminary class certification and issuance of notice to potential opt-ins and class members.” (Id. at 1). However, Defendants expressly reserved the right to “later petition for decertification or otherwise to challenge the ultimate certification of this matter as a collective and/or class action.” (Id.). Following significant additional filings and briefing on various certification issues, the Court granted Plaintiffs' Motion for Certification on June 24, 2015, and certified,

a class comprised of all present truck drivers employed by Jerry W. Bailey Trucking Inc. and former truck drivers who voluntarily ended their employment, who were employed by Jerry W. Bailey Trucking Inc. on or after March 7, 2012, until November 1, 2013, and were not paid regular wages for time spent performing morning (pre-driving) inspections, fueling and end of day (post-driving) inspections.

(ECF No. 59 at 6). The Court additionally appointed Daniel Koch and Johnny Ray Wells, Jr., as representative plaintiffs and the attorneys at Weldy and Associates as class counsel. (Id.). Finally, the Court also granted preliminary certification of a collective action under the FLSA. (Id.).

         Following discovery into Plaintiffs' claim, Defendants filed the instant motion and accompanying Memorandum in Support (ECF No. 127). Plaintiffs filed their response in opposition with supporting memorandum on June 19, 2018 (ECF No. 149) and Defendants filed their Reply Memorandum in Support of Motion to Decertify Provisional Class and Collective Actions (ECF No. 156) on August 3, 2018.

         LEGAL ANALYSIS

         A. CERTIFICATION STANDARD

         Under Rule 23(a), class certification is permitted only if these four requirements are met: “(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable; (2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class; (3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims and defenses of the class; and (4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a).

         If Rule 23(a) is satisfied, the proposed class must also fall within one of three categories in Rule 23(b), which the Seventh Circuit has described as: “(1) a mandatory class action (either because of the risk of incompatible standards for the party opposing the class or because the risk that the class action adjudication would, as a practical matter, either dispose of the claims of nonparties or substantially impair their interests), (2) an action seeking final injunctive or declaratory relief, or (3) a case in which the common questions predominate and class treatment is superior.” Spano v. The Boeing Co., 633 F.3d 574, 583 (7th Cir. 2011).

         “Rule 23 does not set forth a mere pleading standard.” Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 564 U.S. 338, 351 (2011). “On issues affecting class certification . . . a court may not simply assume the truth of the matters as asserted by the plaintiff.” Messner v. Northshore Univ. HealthSys., 669 F.3d 802, 811 (7th Cir. 2012). Rather, the named plaintiff bears the burden of showing that a proposed class satisfies each requirement of Rule 23 by a preponderance of the evidence. Id. “Failure to meet any one of the requirements of Rule 23 precludes certification of a class.” Harriston v. Chi. Tribune Co., 992 F.2d 697, 703 (7th Cir. 1993). Certification is proper only if “the trial court is satisfied, after a rigorous analysis, that the prerequisites of Rule 23(a) have been satisfied.” Dukes, 564 U.S. at 351. The Seventh Circuit has directed district courts to exercise “caution in class certification generally.” Thorogood v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 547 F.3d 742, 746 (7th Cir. 2008).

         Under Rule 23(c)(1)(C), “[a]n order that grants or denies class certification may be altered or amended before final judgment.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(c)(1)(C). After granting certification, the court “remains under a continuing obligation to review whether proceeding as a class action is appropriate.” Shurland v. Bacci Cafe & Pizzeria on Ogden, Inc., 271 F.R.D. 139, 142 (N.D. Ill. 2010) (quoting Ellis v. Elgin Riverboat Resort, 217 F.R.D. 415, 419 (N.D. Ill. 2003)). When a party moves to decertify a class, “the party seeking class certification ‘bears the burden of producing a record demonstrating the continued propriety of maintaining the class action.'” Farmer v. DirectSat USA, LLC, ...


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