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Masahiro Nakahata, et al v. New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System

September 6, 2012

MASAHIRO NAKAHATA, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
NEW YORK-PRESBYTERIAN HEALTHCARE SYSTEM, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
PATRICIA MEGGINSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WESTCHESTER MEDICAL CENTER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
OLUSOLA ALAMU, ET AL., PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE BRONX-LEBANON HOSPITAL CENTER, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Paul A. Crotty, United States District Judge:

USDC SDNY

DOCUMENT

OPINION & ORDER

Here we go again. Three different sets of plaintiffs, represented by the same law firm, bring Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor Law claims against hospitals and related health care entities. As before, all contain strikingly similar allegations. These actions represent merely three of a dozen similar actions that plaintiffs' counsel has initiated in district courts around the country. See Manning v. Boston Med. Ctr. Corp., No. 09--11463--RWZ, 2012 WL 1355673, at *8 nn.9, 10 (D. Mass. Apr. 18, 2012) (citing cases). This Court previously dismissed a dozen separate claims these plaintiffs asserted against these defendants in three earlier actions. See Nakahata v. New York--Presbyterian Healthcare Sys., Inc., No. 10 Civ. 2661, Yarus v. New York City Health and Hosp. Corp., 10 Civ. 2662, Megginson v. Westchester Med. Ctr., 10 Civ. 2683, Alamu v. Bronx-Lebanon Hosp. Ctr., Inc., 10 Civ. 3247, 2011 WL 321186 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 28, 2011). Plaintiffs appealed the dismissal to the Second Circuit. During the pendency of the appeal, however, plaintiffs instituted these new actions.

Plaintiffs again bring putative collective and class actions,*fn1 seeking to recover unpaid wages allegedly due to hourly employees for work performed during meal breaks, pre- and post-shift, and for attending training sessions. Plaintiffs maintain that they were denied applicable premium pay and overtime in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") and New York Labor Law ("NYLL"). Defendants move to dismiss, arguing that plaintiffs' new actions fail to correct many of the previously delineated inadequacies. Specifically, defendants argue that: (1) plaintiffs fail to adequately plead their FLSA and NYLL claims; (2) the FLSA and NYLL claims are barred by Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), because collective bargaining agreements ("CBAs") govern plaintiffs' terms of employment; (3) certain plaintiffs' FLSA claims are time-barred; (4) certain named defendants do not qualify as "employers" under the FLSA and NYLL; and (5) plaintiffs lack standing to pursue claims on their own behalf or own behalf of the putative collective or class action.

For the reasons discussed below, defendants' motions to dismiss are GRANTED.

FACTS AND ALLEGATIONS

1. Nakahata v. New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System, Inc., et al., No. 11 Civ. 6658 On September 23, 2011, plaintiffs Masahiro Nakahata, Diana Gardocki, and Cynthia Delancy instituted this action against The New York Presbyterian Hospital ("NYPH"), The New York Presbyterian Hospital System, Inc. ("System"), Dr. Herbert Pardes, and Mr. Wayne Osten. Plaintiff Cynthia Delancy has since dropped out of this action. Plaintiffs Nakahata and Gardocki worked at NYPH's Columbia University Medical Center as registered nurses. (Nakahata Compl. ¶¶ 71, 72.) Nakahata was employed from July 14, 2000 through May 27, 2008, and "typically" worked 34.5 hours a week, excluding time for which he was not compensated. (Id. ¶ 71.) "[A]pproximately twice a month," Nakahata worked an additional 11.5 hour shift. (Id.) Nakahata claims that he was not paid for work he performed during meal breaks and after his shift ended, which amounted to "approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes per week." (Id.) He also claims that he was not paid for attending basic life support and advanced cardiac life support trainings, both of which occurred every two years, and lasted four and eight hours respectively. (Id.) Gardocki was employed from approximately September 1981 through January 2010, and "typically" worked 37.5 hours a week, excluding time for which she was not paid. (Id. ¶ 72.) Gardocki "occasionally" worked an additional 7.5 hour shift. (Id.) Gardocki claims that she was not paid for work she performed during meal breaks and after her shift, which amounted to "2 hours a week." (Id.) She also claims that she was not paid for attending trainings every two years, which lasted two hours. (Id.)

Both Nakahata and Gardocki were employed under the terms of a CBA between NYPH and the New York State Nurses Association ("NYSNA"), which set forth comprehensive terms and conditions of their employment including salaries, entitlement to breaks, and mandatory grievance procedures. (See id. Exs. B, C, D.)

2. Megginson v. Westchester Medical Center, et al., No. 11 Civ. 6657

Plaintiff Patricia Megginson instituted this action against Westchester County Health Care Corporation ("WCHCC"), Maria Fareri Children's Hospital at Westchester Medical Center, Westchester Medical Center, Mr. Michael D. Israel, and Mr. Paul S. Hochenberg. From August 1, 1979 through February 4, 2010, Megginson worked as a registered nurse at WCHCC, where she "typically" worked 37.5 hours a week, excluding time for which she was not compensated. (Megginson Compl. ¶ 78.) Approximately once a year, Megginson worked an additional 4 or 7.5 hour shift. (Id.) She claims that she was not paid for work performed during her meal breaks, before and after her shift, and for attending trainings, which amounted to approximately five to eight hours per week. (Id.) Megginson was a member of the NYSNA and subject to a CBA.

3. Alamu v. The Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center, Inc., et al., No. 11 Civ. 6366 Plaintiffs Olusola Alamu, Jacqueline Cooper-Davis, and Alla Kozinskaia instituted this action against Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center and its Fulton and Concourse Divisions (collectively "BLHC"), Mr. Miguel A. Fuentes, Jr., and Mr. Sheldon Ortsman. From March 5, 2002 until February 1, 2008, Alamu worked as a registered nurse at BLHC-Fulton Division and BLHC-Concourse Division. (Alamu Compl. ¶ 91.) Throughout his tenure, Alamu worked either 37.5 hours or 34.5 hours per week, and worked an additional shift approximately twice a month. (Id.) Alamu claims that he was not paid for work performed during meal breaks and after his shift ended, amounting to approximately 3.5 hours per week at BLHC-Fulton Division, and 7.5 hours per week at BLHC-Concourse Division. (Id.)

From January 1999 through March 2006, Cooper-Davis worked as a license practical nurse for BLHC-Concourse Division, where she worked approximately 37.5 hours per week, excluding time for which she was not compensated. (Id. ¶ 92.) She claims that she was not paid for work performed during her meal breaks, 30 minutes before her shift began, an hour after her shift ended, and for attending training sessions, which amounted to approximately 8 additional hours per week when there were no trainings and 17.5 hours per week when there were trainings and meetings. (Id.)

From April 15, 2008 through November 14, 2009, Kozinskaia worked as a respiratory therapist for BLHC-Concourse Division, where she worked 23 hours per week, excluding time for which she was not compensated. (Id. ¶ 93.) Approximately once a month, Kozinskaia worked an additional shift. (Id.) She claims that she was not paid for work performed during her meal breaks, 45 minutes before each shift, 38 minutes after each shift, and for attending trainings and monthly staff meetings, which amounted to at least 3.5 hours per week when there were no trainings and up to 8.5 hours per week when there were staff meetings and a CPR training. (Id.)

DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standard

In considering a Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a court accepts the complaint's factual allegations as true and draws all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. See Chambers v. Time Warner, Inc., 282 F.3d 147, 152 (2d Cir. 2002). A court need not accept as true, however, "legal conclusions, deductions or opinions couched as factual allegations." In re NYSE Specialists Sec. Litig., 503 F.3d 89, 95 (2d Cir. 2007) (citation omitted). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. In determining the sufficiency of a complaint, the Court may consider "the factual allegations in [the] . . . complaint, . . . documents attached to the complaint as an exhibit or incorporated in it by reference, . . . matters of which judicial notice may be taken, [and] documents either in plaintiffs' possession or of which the plaintiffs had knowledge and relied on in bringing suit." Brass v. Am. Film Techs., Inc., 987 F.2d 142, 150 (2d Cir.1993).

B. FLSA and NYLL Claims "Under the FLSA, employees who work more than 40 hours per week must be compensated for each hour worked over 40 'at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate at which he is employed.'" Young v. Cooper Cameron Corp., 586 F.3d 201, 204 (2d. Cir. 2009) (quoting 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1)). NYLL provides that "[a]n employer shall pay an employee for overtime at a wage rate of one and one-half times the employee's regular rate in the manner and methods provided" in the FLSA. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 12 § 142-2.2. As NYLL employs similar standards and relies on the FLSA, such claims are often analyzed together. See Reiseck v. Universal Commc'ns of Miami, Inc., 591 F.3d 101, 105 (2d Cir. 2010); DeSilva v. N. Shore-Long Island Jewish Health Sys., Inc., 770 F. Supp. 2d 497, 510 (E.D.N.Y. 2011).

To state a claim for a violation of the FLSA, plaintiffs must adequately plead that: (1) plaintiffs were employed by defendants; (2) defendants are engaged in commerce; and (3) defendants failed to pay plaintiffs for compensable hours worked. 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1).

Plaintiffs claim that defendants, their employers, failed to compensate them for straight or gap time and overtime hours worked under defendants' unpaid meal breaks, unpaid pre- and post-shift, and unpaid training policies.

Defendants argue that plaintiffs' claims are insufficiently pled; named plaintiffs lack standing to raise their claims; plaintiffs' claims are barred by Section 301 of the LMRA; and ...


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