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Colozzi v. St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK


March 26, 2010

ROBERT COLOZZI, ON BEHALF OF HIMSELF AND ALL OTHER EMPLOYEES SIMILARLY SITUATED, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ST. JOSEPH'S HOSPITAL HEALTH CENTER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: David N. Hurd United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Defendants St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center and related entities and individuals ("defendants" or "St. Joseph's") moved for partial summary judgment dismissing certain optin plaintiffs ("disputed plaintiffs") from this action. Plaintiffs opposed and defendants replied. Oral argument was heard on March 24, 2010, in Utica, New York. Decision was reserved.

II. BACKGROUND*fn1

Disputed plaintiffs opted-in to this class action pursuant to a Notice and Consent Form in form and substance as directed by Magistrate Judge David Peebles. (June 8, 2009, Order Doc. No. 143, appeal denied, Aug. 26, 2009, Order Doc. No. 176.) The class has been preliminarily certified as follows:

All present and former hourly employees of the St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center, including but not limited to registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, nurse practitioners, and certified nurses' assistants, with direct patient care responsibilities who have been subject to automatic meal break deductions through use of the Kronos system, and who have or may have worked through or during unpaid meal breaks without compensation at any time during the past three years. (Jan. 26, 2009, Order Doc. No. 101.)

Magistrate Judge Peebles set forth a procedure for review of improper opt-ins by the parties, concluding with defendants making a motion for partial summary judgment as to those allegedly improper opt-ins about which the parties could not agree. In sum, there were sixteen disputed plaintiffs about which the parties could not agree, the subjects of the current motion.

Prior to the hearing on this motion disputed plaintiffs Deborah Chrissley, Brenda Ocampo, and Christopher Lanz were voluntarily dismissed from this action. Twelve of the remaining disputed plaintiffs left defendant's employ more than three years prior to opting-in to this lawsuit. Defendants contend that there is no record of the two remaining disputed plaintiffs ever having worked for St. Joseph's.

III. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

Summary judgment must be granted when the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions and affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and that the moving party is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. The moving party carries the initial burden of demonstrating an absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Id. Then the nonmoving party "must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Id.

IV. DISCUSSION

It is undisputed that each of the disputed plaintiffs did not work for St. Joseph's during the last three years prior to opting in, as follows:

Disputed Plaintiff Termination Date Opt-in Date Deborah Body 9/26/2004 11/18/2008 Beverly Brown (Joyce) 4/17/1998 12/5/2008 Kathleen Burnham 1/23/1998 11/18/2008 Tammie Burroughs 11/10/1997 11/18/2008 Kathleen Custeau 5/2/1998 11/18/2008 Colleen Jackson 6/17/1998 11/18/2008 Jill Kasten 10/9/2004 11/18/2008 Brian Lancer 8/1/1998 11/18/2008 John Palmieri 4/28/2005 11/18/2008 Joseph C. Shackleton 2/12/2004 8/10/2009 Cynthia Wernet 4/17/2003 11/18/2008

The class was certified as direct patient care workers who "worked through or during unpaid meal breaks without compensation at any time during the past three years." (Jan. 26, 2009, Order Doc. No. 170 (emphasis added).) Based upon the undisputed facts the above-listed disputed plaintiffs did not work for defendants during the past three years, therefore they necessarily fall outside the certified class and must be dismissed.*fn2

Defendants assert that they have no record of employing Toni David ("David") or Rakiesha Griffin ("Griffin"). In response, David set forth in a sworn affirmation that she was employed by St. Joseph's as a certified nurse assistant from September 2006 to October 2007. David opted in on November 18, 2008. (Lingle Aff. Ex. K Doc. No. 206-1.) Thus, a question of material fact exists as to whether she worked for defendants during the three years prior to opting in, and she will not be dismissed.

Griffin also submitted a sworn affirmation, stating that she was employed as a certified nurse assistant at St. Joseph's from 2005 to May 2006. (Lingle Aff. Ex. A Doc. No. 206-1.) However, the December 22, 2009, letter from her counsel stated that Griffin's dates of employment were 2000-2001. (Smith Aff. Ex. D Doc. No. 196-6.) Additionally, plaintiffs' response to defendants' statement of undisputed facts also states that Griffin's dates of employment were 2000-2001. (Pltfs.' Resp. Statement of Material Facts No. 3 Doc. No. 205-1.) Griffin cannot create a question of fact with a self-serving affirmation that contradicts prior admissions. Thus, it is an undisputed fact that she was not employed by defendants within three years of her opt-in on November 18, 2008, and she will be dismissed.

IV. CONCLUSION

Thirteen of the disputed plaintiffs do not meet the definition of the class and therefore must be dismissed. The fourteenth disputed plaintiff has set forth facts to create a genuine issue of material fact and defeat defendants' motion.

Accordingly, it is ORDERED that

1. Defendants' motion for partial summary judgment is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part;

2. DEBORAH BODY, BEVERLY BROWN (JOYCE), KATHLEEN BURNHAM, TAMMIE BURROUGHS, KATHLEEN CUSTEAU, COLLEEN JACKSON, JILL KASTEN, BRIAN LANCER, JOHN PALMIERI, JOSEPH C. SHACKLETON, CYNTHIA WERNET, and RAKIESHA GRIFFIN are DISMISSED from this action; and

3. TONI DAVID remains a plaintiff in this action. IT IS SO ORDERED.


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