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Reynoso v. Lasership, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

June 22, 2018

EDWARD REYNOSO, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,


          Nathaniel M. Gorton United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Edward Reynoso (“plaintiff” or “Reynoso”) brings this purported class action against LaserShip, Inc. (“LaserShip”) and its Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”), Blake Averill (collectively “defendants”), for alleged violations of the Massachusetts Wage Act and Massachusetts overtime laws. Reynoso contends that LaserShip classifies its employees as independent contractors in order to avoid paying overtime wages.

         Pending before the Court is LaserShip's motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, to transfer venue to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). For the reasons that follow, the motion will be allowed and the case will be transferred.

         I. Background

         A. Factual and Procedural Background

         LaserShip, a package delivery company, is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Virginia. Defendant Blake Averill is CEO of the company and resides in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. Reynoso, a Massachusetts resident, was a professional owner-operator providing equipment and labor services to LaserShip from November, 2012, to May, 2017. In May, 2017, the parties executed an Independent Contractor Agreement (“Agreement”) which governed the terms and conditions of their business relationship. That Agreement superseded independent contractor agreements previously entered into between the parties in January, 2014, August, 2014 and March, 2016. The Agreement contains a merger clause stating that it supersedes any and all other agreements between the parties. It also includes a mandatory forum selection clause as follows:

Choice of Forum. The parties agree that any legal proceedings between the parties arising from, in connection with, or relating to this Agreement or arising out of, in connection with or relating in any way to any prior agreements between the parties, any current or prior relationship between the parties, any other dealings between the parties, or to any aspect of the relationship between the parties to this Agreement, whether under federal, state, local, or foreign law, shall be brought exclusively in Vienna, Virginia, or in the nearest location in Virginia where such proceedings can be maintained. LaserShip and Contractor hereby consent to the jurisdiction and venue of such fora.

         Throughout his employment with the company, Reynoso was responsible for delivering packages for LaserShip and was paid according to the number of deliveries he made. LaserShip assigned Reynoso certain routes, set his schedule, prevented him from delivering for any other company, required him to drive a white van and provided him with a uniform bearing the LaserShip logo. LaserShip also required Reynoso to report to the warehouse for each day of work by 8:30 a.m. to retrieve packages and to call the warehouse at the end of the day to confirm that the routes were complete. Reynoso asserts that he, and others similarly situated, have been misclassified as independent contractors and that there was an employer-employee relationship between LaserShip and those providing equipment and labor services to LaserShip.

         Reynoso also alleges that as a result of that misclassification, he and other delivery drivers have suffered damages and incurred expenses that should have been paid by LaserShip, such as expenses for gasoline, vehicle maintenance and payroll taxes. Further, Reynoso and other drivers regularly worked more than 40 hours per week and, because paystubs did not include all hours worked, Reynoso and others similarly situated suffered lost wages.

         Reynoso brought this action in Massachusetts Superior Court for Middlesex County asserting claims individually and on behalf of others similarly situated for 1) misclassification as independent contractor in violation of the Wage Act, M.G.L. c. 149, §§ 148B & 150 (“the Wage Act”), 2) nonpayment of overtime wages in violation of the Massachusetts Overtime Law, M.G.L. c. 151, §§ 1A & 1B, 3) nonpayment of earned overtime wages in violation of M.G.L. c. 149, §§ 148 & 150, 4) failure to maintain proper payroll records in violation of M.G.L. c. 149, § 148, M.G.L. c. 151, § 15 and 454 CMR 27.02(2) and 5) unjust enrichment. LaserShip timely removed the case to this Court on diversity grounds.

         LaserShip moves to dismiss or to transfer venue (Docket No. 12). For the foregoing reasons, that motion will be allowed.

         II. Legal Analysis

         A. Legal Standard

         The Supreme Court has held that the appropriate mechanism to enforce a forum-selection clause is through a motion to transfer under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Atl. Marine Constr. Co.v.U.S. Dist. Court for W. Dist. of Texas, 571 U.S. 49, 58-59 (2013). Under ยง 1404(a), a district ...

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