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Fengler v. Crouse Health System

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK


March 26, 2010

MICHELE FENGLER, ON BEHALF OF HERSELF AND ALL OTHER EMPLOYEES SIMILARLY SITUATED, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CROUSE HEALTH SYSTEM, INC., 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 Crouse Health System, Inc. and related entities and individuals ("defendants" or "Crouse") moved for partial summary judgment dismissing certain opt-in 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. 211, appeal denied, Aug. 26, 2009, Order Doc. No. 242.) The class has been preliminarily certified as follows:

All present and former hourly employees of Crouse Hospital, including but not limited to registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, 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. 170.)

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 seventeen disputed plaintiffs about which the parties could not agree, the subjects of the current motion.

Prior to the hearing on this motion disputed plaintiff Felicia Montanez was voluntarily dismissed from this action. All of the remaining disputed plaintiffs left defendants' employ more than three years prior to opting-in to this lawsuit.*fn2

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 Crouse during the last three years prior to opting in, as follows:

Disputed Plaintiff Termination Date Opt-in Date Tammy P. Aiken 6/10/1991 11/18/2008 Stephanie E. Anderson 9/3/1999 11/18/2008 Leilani Beardsley 3/15/2003 11/19/2008 Alicia R. Castrello 10/20/2005*fn3 11/18/2008 Christopher G. Considine 7/31/2006 9/8/2009 Donna T. Gallagher 7/30/1999 11/18/2008 SueCarol M. Gamble 2/11/1995 11/18/2008 Dianne M. Harris 5/1/1994 11/18/2008 Valerie L. Kelly 6/23/2000 11/18/2008 Judith S. Mignacca 9/14/1995 11/18/2008 Alison A. Neuser 11/22/2005 12/11/2008 Joanne A. Rogers 8/15/1997 11/18/2008 Amy Lee Turner 2/1/2006 7/24/2009 Mary E. Vincent 9/10/2005 11/18/2008 Carol A. Walters 6/6/2002 11/19/2008 Lucinda A. Redmond 6/1/1995 unknown

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).) Thus, based upon the undisputed facts that none of the disputed plaintiffs worked for defendants during the past three years, except Christopher G. Considine ("Considine") and Amy Lee Turner ("Turner"), they necessarily fall outside the certified class and must be dismissed.*fn4

Considine and Turner worked for defendants during the past three years from January 26, 2009, the date the class was certified. Thus, they fall within the description of the class. However, the motion for summary judgment will be denied without prejudice to renew upon close of discovery.

IV. CONCLUSION

None of the disputed plaintiffs except Considine and Turner meet the definition of the class and therefore must be dismissed. Defendants' motion as to Considine and Turner will be denied without prejudice.

Accordingly, it is ORDERED that

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

2. TAMMY P. AIKEN, STEPHANIE E. ANDERSON, LEILANI BEARDSLEY, ALICIA R. CASTRELLO, DONNA T. GALLAGHER, SUECAROL M. GAMBLE, DIANNE M. HARRIS, VALERIE L. KELLY, JUDITH S. MIGNACCA, ALISON A. NEUSER, JOANNE A. ROGERS, MARY E. VINCENT, CAROL A. WALTERS, and LUCINDA A. REDMOND are DISMISSED as plaintiffs in this action; and

3. CHRISTOPHER G. CONSIDINE and AMY LEE TURNER remain as plaintiffs in this action subject to a future motion by defendants.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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