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Amash v. Home Depot USA, Inc.

United States District Court, Second Circuit

December 16, 2013

ARTHUR R. AMASH, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
HOME DEPOT U.S.A., INC., Defendant.

DECISION & ORDER

THOMAS J. McAVOY, Senior District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiffs commenced this action asserting claims for unpaid overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., and New York Labor Law, Article 19, §§ 650 et seq. See 2nd Am. Compl., dkt. # 43. Defendant Home Depot U.S.A., Inc. ("Home Depot" or "Defendant") moves for summary judgment dismissing the claims brought by Plaintiff Theodore Biagiotti ("Biagiotti" or "Plaintiff") on the grounds that judicial estoppel precludes Plaintiff's pursuit of his claims because he failed to disclose the claims in his voluntary petition for bankruptcy filed with the United States Bankruptcy Court of the Southern District of New York. See Motion, dkt. # 105. Biagiotti opposes the motion, and Home Depot has filed a reply. The Court has considered each of these filing in rendering its decision. For the reasons that follow, the motion is granted.

II. BACKGROUND[1]

a. Relevant Procedural History

Biagiotti is a former assistant store manager for Home Depot. On December 11, 2006, Biagiotti filed a consent to join a FLSA conditional certified collective action entitled Aquilino v. The Home Depot, Inc., Civil Action No. 04-cv-4100, filed against Home Depot in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey on August 25, 2004 ("Aquilino action"). See 2nd Am. Compl. at ¶ 1; Compl., (ECF No.1 in D. NJ. 04-cv-4100). The Aquilino plaintiffs, including Biagiotti, alleged that they were misclassified as exempt from the overtime requirements of the FLSA, and the laws of 25 other states ("ASM Wage and Hour Claims"). Id.

On February 15, 2011, the District of New Jersey granted Home Depot's motion to decertify the nationwide FLSA collective action. Aquilino, 2011 WL 564039, at * 11, (ECF Nos. 341 and 347 in D.N.J. 04-cv-4100). After decertification of the collective action, by Order dated May 2, 2011, the District of New Jersey dismissed the opt-in plaintiffs without prejudice. Aquilino, 2011 WL 564039, at *1, (ECF No. 353 in D.N.J. 04-cv-4100); see Aquilino v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., No. 06-cv-4100 (PGS) (D.N.J. May 2, 2011) (ECF No. 353 in D.N.J. 04-cv-4100).

In June 2011, some of the former Aquilino opt-in plaintiffs filed six multi-state actions, alleging violation of the FLSA and various state laws. See Costello v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc. , 888 F.Supp.2d 258, 262 (D. Conn. 2012). On June 14, 2011, the plaintiffs in the instant action, including Biagiotti, were among the plaintiffs who filed a FLSA and multi-state law wage/hour action in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut, alleging violations of the FLSA and the wage and hour laws of New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont ("Costello action"). Costello v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc ., Civil Action. No. 11-cv-953 (ECF No.1 in D. Conn. 11-cv-0953). None of the multi-state actions included FLSA collective action or Rule 23 class action allegations.

On January 10, 2012, Home Depot filed a motion in the Costello action, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 21 and 28 U.S.C. §1404(a), to sever the plaintiffs' claims into seven separate actions and to transfer six of those actions to districts in other states, including New York. Costello , 888 F.Supp.2d at 261 (ECF No. 55 in D. Conn. 11-cv-0953). On April 10, 2012, the Costello Court granted Home Depot's motion. Id . at 271 (ECF No. 72 in D. Conn. 11-cv-0953).

By its Orders of April 30, 2012 and May 2, 2012, the claims of plaintiff Arthur R. Amash, Theodore Biagoiotti, Sheryl Glickman, Christine M. Holloway, Shaun H. Kimball, Joseph L. Pangione, Jeffrey A. Repp, Charles R. Schneider, Richard A. Yingling, Jr., Robert F. Yuskauskas and John L. Marine were transferred to the Northern District of New York. See Order of Transfer, filed April 30, 2012, (ECF No. 77 in D. Conn. 11-cv-0953), and Amended Order of Transfer, filed May 2, 2012 (ECF No. 79 in D. Conn. 11-cv-0953). The instant action was electronically transferred to this Court on May 21, 2012. See May 21, 2012 Docket Entry (ECF No. 81 in N.D.N.Y. 12-cv-0837).

b. Biagiotti's Bankruptcy Proceeding

On December 15, 2011, after he had joined the Aquilino action and its successor action Costello v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc ., Civil Action. No. 11I-cv-953 (D. Conn. 11-cv-0953) ("Costello action") as an opt-in plaintiff, Biagiotti and his spouse, with the assistance of legal counsel, filed a voluntary bankruptcy petition and reorganization plan under Chapter 13 with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, Case No. 11-38439-cgm ("Chapter 13 Plan"). The Chapter 13 Plan included Schedules that required Plaintiff to identify, among other things, "[o]ther contingent and unliquidated claims of every nature...." Plaintiff did not identify any such claims; instead he placed an "X" in the column labeled "None." On Schedule C, Plaintiff identified $66, 751.41 in claimed exemptions. On Schedule F, he identified $16, 269.00 in unsecured nonpriority claims.

Question 4.a of the Statement of Financial Affairs filed with Biagiotti's ...


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