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Botero v. Commonwealth Limousine Service Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

October 8, 2014

JAIME BOTERO, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMONWEALTH LIMOUSINE SERVICE INC. and DAWSON A. RUTTER, JR., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

NATHANIEL M. GORTON, District Judge.

This is a putative class action brought by a former chauffeur, Jaime Botero ("Botero"), who claims that defendant Commonwealth Limousine Service ("Commonwealth") and its president, Dawson A. Rutter ("Rutter") (collectively, "defendants") violated the Massachusetts Wage Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act ("the FLSA") through their failure to compensate chauffeurs properly. Now pending before the Court is plaintiff's motion to amend the complaint to implead as plaintiffs 14 individuals who filed "opt-in" notices (collectively, the "opt-ins") under the FLSA. For the reasons that follow, the Court will deny plaintiff's motion.

I. Procedural History

In January, 2012, plaintiff filed suit against Commonwealth in the Massachusetts Superior Court for Suffolk County alleging violations of state wage regulations. Later that month, he filed a three-count amended complaint in state court, adding an FLSA claim. In March, 2012, defendants removed the case to this Court.

During March and April, 2012, seven individuals filed "optin" Notices of Filing Consent to Sue under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) of the FLSA.

In March, 2014, the Court denied plaintiff's renewed motion for conditional class certification, concluding that the putative class members were not similarly situated in the FLSA context because the inquiry into whether the lunch break of a particular member of the putative class constituted a "bona fide meal break" would be "fact-intensive" and not susceptible to common, class-wide analysis. Botero v. Commonwealth Limousine Serv. Inc. ("Botero I"), No. 12-10428-NMG, 2014 WL 1248158, at *5-6 (D. Mass. Mar. 25, 2014).

Since the Court's denial of the motion to conditionally certify the class, seven additional individuals have filed "optin" notices pursuant to FLSA § 216(b). All together, 14 individuals have filed such notices.

II. Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Complaint

At a scheduling conference held in August, 2014, plaintiff maintained that the 14 "opt-ins" had already joined the case as party-plaintiffs by filing their "Notices of Filing Consent to Sue." The "opt-ins" are not currently part of the case, however, because their notices of consent were filed under the FLSA and the plaintiff's motion for conditional class certification under the FLSA was denied. See, e.g., Clay v. Huntington Ingalls, Inc., Civ. No. 09-7625, 2012 WL 860375, at *3 (E.D. La. Mar. 13, 2012); see also Prescott v. Prudential Ins. Co. , 729 F.Supp.2d 357, 370 (D. Me. 2010) (noting that if a FLSA conditionally certified class was subsequently decertified, any "opt-in" plaintiffs would be dismissed without prejudice).

Accordingly, plaintiff now moves for leave to amend the complaint to include the 14 individuals who filed "opt-in" notices as named party plaintiffs in this case. Plaintiff contends that such an amendment is proper under Fed R. Civ. P. 15, 20(a) and 21. He argues that all 14 individuals also work, or at one time worked, as chauffeurs for defendants and therefore have claims for overtime pay arising out of the defendants' same behavior. Plaintiff further contends that he has not delayed in seeking an amendment of the complaint and that defendants had notice of these individuals and thus will not be prejudiced by such an amendment.

A. Legal Standard

In order to join additional plaintiffs pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 20(a)(1), plaintiff must establish that

(A) [he] assert[s] any right to relief jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences; and (B) any question of law or fact common to all plaintiffs will arise in the action.

While the First Circuit Court of Appeals has yet to establish a definitive standard, courts in this district have held that the same "transaction or occurrence" referenced in Rule 20(a) exists where the "infringing acts share an aggregate of operative facts." See, e.g., New Sensations, Inc. v. Does 1-175 , 947 F.Supp.2d 146, 148 (D. Mass. 2012) (citing In re EMC Corp. , 677 F.3d 1351, 1358 (Fed. Cir. 2012)). Plaintiff must show "substantial evidentiary overlap in the facts giving rise to the cause of action against defendant." In re EMC , 677 F.3d at 1358. Thus, joinder is not warranted simply ...


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