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Vilaythong v. Sterling Software, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

December 13, 2018

CHANMALY VILAYTHONG, Plaintiff,
v.
STERLING SOFTWARE, INC., SYNTEL, INC. and PRAPAGAR VANJIAPPAN, Defendants. SYNTEL, INC., Cross Claimant,
v.
STERLING SOFTWARE, INC., Cross Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          Nathaniel M. Gorton, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Chanmaly Vilaythong (“Vilaythong” or “plaintiff”) brings this claim for unpaid wages pursuant to the Massachusetts Wage and Hour Act, M.G.L. c. 149, §§ 148 and 150, against defendants Sterling Software, Inc. (“Sterling”), Syntel, Inc. (“Syntel”) and Prapagar Vanjiappan (“Vanjiappan”) (collectively “defendants”). The complaint was originally filed in Massachusetts Superior Court but was removed to this Court by Syntel which relied on this Court's diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Before this Court are plaintiff's motion to remand to the Massachusetts Superior Court (Docket No. 7), Sterling's motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction (Docket No. 12) and plaintiff's motion to amend the complaint (Docket No. 19).[1]

         I. Background

         A. The Parties

         Plaintiff is a resident of Boston, Massachusetts. Both defendants Sterling and Syntel are incorporated and have their principal places of business in Michigan. Syntel also has an office in Boston, Massachusetts. Defendant Vanjiappan formerly resided in Massachusetts and worked at Syntel's Boston office but is not a lawful permanent resident of the United States. It is unclear whether Vanjiappan currently resides in the United States or in a foreign country.

         Both Sterling and Syntel regularly partner with one another on business matters. Sterling provides software development, systems integration and consulting, and systems administration and maintenance services for its clients across the country. Syntel engages in product engineering, information technology and cybersecurity services to help clients in various industries automate their business practices.

         Vilaythong was hired by Syntel as a business analyst and was assigned to perform work at the site of one of Syntel's clients, State Street Corporation (“State Street”), in Quincy, Massachusetts. From June, 2014, through March, 2018, Vilaythong worked at State Street but was paid by Sterling and Syntel. Syntel paid Sterling $62 for every hour Vilaythong worked at State Street and Sterling, in turn, paid Vilaythong $52 per hour for her services. She was paid on a monthly basis based on her hours reported to Vanjiappan, the senior Syntel manager at State Street, who was allegedly responsible for ensuring that Vilaythong was paid properly.

         In December, 2017, January, 2018, and February 2018, plaintiff worked 48 hours, 168 hours and 144 hours, respectively. She has not been paid for any of those hours by either Sterling or Syntel. Plaintiff continued to work through March, 2018, but received no assurance that she would be paid for those hours either.

         B. Procedural History

         In March, 2018, plaintiff filed her complaint in the Massachusetts Superior Court for Suffolk County and requested $27, 500 in compensatory damages along with treble damages and attorneys' fees as authorized by the Massachusetts Wage and Hour Act, M.G.L. c. 149, § 150. Vilaythong alleges that Syntel and Sterling are jointly liable to her for the unpaid wages as her joint employers. In-house counsel for Syntel, who was authorized to accept service of process, received a copy of the complaint by email on April 10, 2018. Syntel then filed a notice of removal to this Court on May 9, 2018, one day before the deadline for filing of such a notice. That notice indicated that: 1) Sterling consented to the removal, 2) the Court had diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 and 3) upon information and belief, Vilaythong was a citizen of a foreign country or a citizen of the United States depending upon her immigration status and Vanjiappan was a citizen of a foreign country who no longer resided in the United States.

         On May 16, 2018, Syntel filed its answer and cross-claim against Sterling and the following day filed a corrected notice of removal to clarify that plaintiff was, in fact, a citizen of the United States and that Vanjiappan was, in fact, a foreign citizen but had not left the United States.

         On May 18, 2018, plaintiff filed a motion to remand to Massachusetts state court, contending that 1) the notice of removal was untimely because Syntel filed a corrected notice of removal beyond the 30-day removal period which then became the operative pleading and 2) Vanjiappan is a resident of Massachusetts and thus there is a lack of complete diversity. In June, 2018, Sterling filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, asserting that plaintiff's claim failed to satisfy the amount in controversy requirement for diversity jurisdiction because she alleged substantially less than $75, 000 in unpaid wages. In September, 2018, plaintiff filed a motion to amend her complaint.

         II. Motion to Remand and Motion to Dismiss

         A. ...


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