United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Patti B. Saris Chief United States District Judge.
case involves a pay dispute between a trucking corporation
and former truck drivers. Plaintiff Dominic Oliveira brought
this proposed class and collective action in March 2015,
alleging that Defendant New Prime, Inc. (“New
Prime”) violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA),
29 U.S.C. § 216(b), and the Missouri Minimum Wage Law,
Mo. Rev. Stat. § 290, by failing to pay its truck
drivers minimum wage. Docket. Nos. 1, 33.
2015, New Prime moved to compel arbitration of Oliveira's
claims under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), but did not
press its claim under Missouri law. See Docket No. 3
at 4-8. This Court denied New Prime's motion without
prejudice and ordered limited discovery on the applicability
of the FAA to this case. Docket No. 60. New Prime appealed to
the First Circuit, lost, and then appealed to the Supreme
Court, and lost again. Now it wants a fourth bite of the
three and a half years after this case was filed, New Prime
moves under Missouri law to compel arbitration of the claims
of several plaintiffs who recently opted into this case
pursuant to the FLSA. New Prime argues that (1) it has not
waived its right to arbitration under Missouri law with
respect to the new opt-in plaintiffs (2) any state-law
challenges to its arbitration agreements with the opt-in
plaintiffs must be resolved by an arbitrator, rather than
this Court. Plaintiff contests both assertions.
hearing, the Court DENIES
Defendant's motion to compel arbitration of the opt-in
plaintiffs' claims (Docket No. 161) because it has waived
its right under Missouri law.
following facts are taken from the First Amended Complaint
and attached exhibits, Docket No. 33, as well as this
Court's previous opinion in this case, Oliveira v.
New Prime, Inc., 141 F.Supp.3d 125 (D. Mass. 2015).
March 2013, Oliveira entered New Prime's “Paid
Apprenticeship” training program, which is advertised
as an on- the-job training program for new truck drivers.
Docket No. 33-2, Docket No. 33-3. Apprentices obtain a
Missouri Commercial Driver's License (CDL) permit, shadow
New Prime drivers for three to four weeks, take a CDL exam,
drive 30, 000 miles as a New Prime company driver trainee,
and attend an additional week of orientation classes.
Oliveira, 141 F.Supp.3d at 128. The drivers then
choose to be classified as either company drivers or
independent contractors. Id.
2013, when Oliveira returned from his trainee driving, New
Prime told Oliveira that he could make more money if he
became an independent contractor. Id. Oliveira then
signed a document titled “INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR
OPERATING AGREEMENT.” Dkt. No. 36-1. The document
contained an arbitration provision that delegated questions
of arbitrability to the arbitrator.
his time as an independent contractor and later as a New
Prime company driver, New Prime made regular deductions from
Oliveira's paycheck. Oliveira, 141 F.Supp.3d at
129. These deductions were ostensibly due to an advance of
$200 per week given to Oliveira during the apprentice
program, lease payments on Oliveira's truck, and payments
for other tools that New Prime instructed Oliveira to buy.
Id. at 128-29. On multiple occasions, Oliveira's
weekly pay was negative after spending dozens of hours on the
road. Id. at 129.
brought this class action in March 2015, arguing that he and
other New Prime drivers were not paid the minimum wage under
federal and state law. Docket No. 1. Oliveira proposed the
following definition for both a 216(b) collective action
under the FLSA and a Rule 23(b) class under Missouri law:
All current and former employees that drove for the
defendant, whether or not catagorized [sic] as employees,
trainees, or independent contractors who were not compensated
for all training time, paid by the mile without regard to
hours worked and/or had improper deductions taken from their
Docket No. 33 at 13-14. In June 2015, New Prime filed a motion
to compel arbitration of Oliveira's claims, or in the
alternative, to dismiss the suit for failure to state a
claim. Docket No. 24, Docket No. 35. New Prime's
arbitration-related arguments were based entirely on federal
law. See Docket No. 36 at 4-8. This Court denied New
Prime's motion in October 2015. Oliveira, 141
F.Supp.3d at 135. New Prime appealed the decision to the
First Circuit shortly thereafter. Docket No. 67.
First Circuit affirmed this Court's decision in May 2017.
Docket No. 73; Oliveira v. New Prime, Inc., 857 F.3d
7, 24 (1st Cir. 2017). The First Circuit held that (1) the
“applicability of the FAA is a threshold question for
the court to determine before compelling arbitration under
the Act, ” and (2) the provision of the FAA that
exempts “contracts of employment” of
transportation workers from the Act's coverage applies to
an agreement “that establishes or purports to establish
an independent-contractor relationship.” Id.
at 9. Thus, New Prime could not rely on the FAA to compel
arbitration of Oliveira's claims.
Prime appealed the First Circuit's decision to the U.S.
Supreme Court in November 2017. Docket No. 110. While its
petition for certiorari was pending, New Prime moved in
January 2018 to deny certification of Oliveira's putative
class. Docket No. 118. In its motion, New Prime asserted that
it had “not waived its right to compel arbitration of
the claims of putative class members” under Missouri
law, even if it had waived that right with regard to Oliveira
individually. Id. at 8. Once the Supreme Court
granted certiorari in February 2018, Docket No. 134, the
district court proceeding was stayed prior to resolution of
the class certification issue. In January 2019, the Supreme
Court affirmed the First Circuit on both of its holdings.
New Prime Inc. v. Oliveira, 139 S.Ct. 532, 544
subsequently filed consent forms for ten opt-in plaintiffs
(“Plaintiffs”), pursuant to 29 U.S.C. §
216(b), in April 2019 (Docket No. 154, Docket No. 155), and
June 2019 (Docket No. 159, 160). The opt-in plaintiffs had
each signed Operating Agreements with arbitration provisions
similar to that signed by Oliveira. Docket. Nos. 163-1 to
163-10. Many of the contracts were signed at the end of the
driver training period, after each ...