Farnsworth et al v. Welspun Tubular LLC et al
ORDER denying 67 Motion to Certify Class. Signed by Judge D. P. Marshall Jr. on 8/16/12. (kpr)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
MOORE, RAMIZ ABDALALLA, KHALID
ABDULHUSSEIN, WISSAM ALOBAIDI, and
MARK STEPHENS, each on his own behalf and
on behalf of all others similarly situated
WELSPUN TUBULAR LLC and
WELSPUN PIPES INC.
The Plaintiffs move to certify a collective action pursuant to 29 U.S.C.
§ 216(b) and to send court-approved notice. They propose a breathtakingly
broad class: all current and former Welspun employees in Arkansas who
were classified as salaried at some point during the three years before this
case was filed. Document No. 68-18, at 1; Document No. 68, at 19-20. Because
the Plaintiffs have failed to meet the lenient standard imposed at this stage,
the motion is denied.
In proposed collective actions, this Court follows the two-step process
used by a majority of district courts in the Eighth Circuit. First, the Court
conditionally certifies the class to proceed as a collective action at the notice
stage. At the conclusion of discovery, the Court then permits motions to
decertify. In re Pilgrim's Pride Fair Labor Standards Act Litigation, MDL Docket
No.1:07-cv-1832, 2008 WL4877239, at*2 (W.D. Ark.13 Mar. 2008) (collecting
cases); McQuay v. American Int'l Group, Inc., No. 4:01-cv-661-WRW, 2002 WL
31475212, at *2 (E. D. Ark. 25 Oct. 2002).
At the notice stage, the Court examines the pleadings and affidavits and
uses a fairly lenient standard to determine whether the proposed class
members are similarly situated. Mooney v. Aramco Services Co., 54 F.3d 1207,
1213 (5th Cir. 1995), overruled on other grounds by Desert Palace, Inc. v. Costa, 539
U'.S. 90 (2003); Freeman v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 256 F. Supp. 2d 941, 944 (W.D.
Ark. 2003). The named Plaintiffs must make a modest factual showing that
" [they] and potential class members were victims of a common decision,
policy, or plan of the employer that affected all class members in a similar
fashion." Resendiz-Ramirez v. P & H Forestry, LLC, 515 F. Supp. 2d 937, 941
(W.D. Ark. 2007); see also Freeman, 256 F. Supp. 2d at 944-45.
"unsupported assertions of widespread violations are not sufficient."
Freeman, 256 F. Supp. 2d at 945.
Factors relevant to the similarly situated inquiry include: (1) whether
everyone worked in the same location; (2) whether they held the same job
title; (3) whether the alleged violations occurred during the same time period;
(4) whether all the salaried employees were subjected to the same policies and
practices; and (5) the extent to which the alleged violations are similar. Smith
v. Frac Tech Servs., Ltd., No. 4:09-cv-679-JLH,2009WL4251017, at*4 (E.D. Ark.
24 Nov. 2009); see also Hipp v. Liberty Nat'l Life Ins. Co.,252 F.3d 1208,1217-19
(11th Cir. 2001).
Although Plaintiffs speak of these factors, they make little effort to
apply them-probably because to do so for the broad and varied class of
proposed plaintiffs would be well-nigh impossible. Plaintiffs' argument relies
primarily on two things. First, in 2011 Welspun reclassified many of the
employees in Plaintiffs' subdepartment.
They allege that they were
reclassified even though none of their job duties changed. Therefore, their
argument goes, the original classification must have been incorrect. The
Plaintiffs have no evidence of misclassficiations in other departments.
Instead, they ask the Court to infer that misclassifications exist. But the fact
that this small fraction of employees in a particular subdepartment allege that
they were misclassified "provides almost no evidence that the reason that
these employees were [misclassified] was because of an unlawful
companywide policy." Saleen v. Waste Management, Inc., 649 F. Supp. 2d 937,
941 (D. Minn. 2009) (emphasis original).
Second, the Plaintiffs rely on Matthew Farnsworth's listing of forty-five
other employees- across multiple departments and with a host of varying
jobs- who he alleges are similarly situated to him. Farnsworth gives no
information about how he arrived at this conclusion. Although the burden
of proof at the notice stage is light, plaintiffs still "have the burden of
demonstrating a reasonable basis for crediting their assertions that aggrieved
individuals exist in the broad class that they propose[.]" Haynes v. Singer
Co., Inc., 696 F.2d 884, 887 (11th Cir. 1983).
reclassifications and Farnsworth's opinion- unsupported and unexplained
as it is- are insufficient to meet this modest burden. Because the named
Plaintiffs have not shown that they are similarly situated to the broad range
of potential class members they want to make part of this case, their motion,
Document No. 67, is denied.
D.P. Marshall Jr. ~
United States District Judge
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