Mujo et al v. Jani-King International, Inc. et al
ORDER denying 83 Motion for Reconsideration. Signed by Judge Victor A. Bolden on 4/12/2018. (Riegel, J.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
SIMON MUJO and INDRIT MHARREMI, on
behalf of themselves and all others similarly
JANI-KING INTERNATIONAL, INC.,
JANI-KING INC., and JANI-KING OF
No. 3:16-cv-1990 (VAB)
RULING ON PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION
Simon Mujo and Indrit Muharremi, on behalf of a putative class of over 100 Jani-King
franchisees (collectively “Plaintiffs”), have sued Jani-King International, Inc., Jani-King, Inc.,
and Jani-King of Hartford, Inc. (collectively “Jani-King”). In this diversity action, Mr. Mujo and
Mr. Muharremi allege that Jani-King has unlawfully classified them as independent contractors
under the Connecticut Wage Law, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-58 et seq., and that the various fees,
costs, client sales tax, and charge backs under Jani-King’s franchise agreement violate Section
31-72 of the Connecticut General Statues.
Plaintiffs now move for reconsideration of the Court’s March 31, 2018 Order, granting in
part and denying in part Jani-King’s motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint.
For the following reasons, the motion is DENIED.
FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Jani-King provides commercial cleaning services to its customers. Am. Compl. ¶ 15.
Jani-King franchisees, two of whom are Mr. Mujo and Mr. Muharremi, conduct these cleaning
services. Id. To carry out their business, Jani-King, under the terms of a franchise agreement
(“Agreement”), allegedly enters into independent contractor relationships with individuals who
then perform janitorial work for Jani-King customers. Id. Jani-King allegedly required all
members of the putative class to sign substantially similar agreements before working for JaniKing. Id. ¶ 16.
Under the terms of these agreements, Jani-King allegedly required Plaintiffs to pay an
initial and non-refundable franchise fee down payment, a condition predicate for Jani-King
providing them with the opportunity to perform cleaning services under Jani-King’s cleaning
contracts between Jani-King and their customers. Id. ¶ 17. Mr. Mujo and Mr. Muharremi and a
subset of the putative class members allegedly paid the down payment to Jani-King as a lump
sum at the time of entering into the contract. Id. A second subset of putative class members
allegedly paid a portion of the down payment at the time of entering into the contract and paid
the outstanding balance as monthly deductions drawn from the compensation paid to them by
Plaintiffs allege that they are not free from Jani-King’s control and direction with respect
to Plaintiffs performance of services, under the terms of the Agreement. Id. ¶ 20. Plaintiffs also
maintain that Jani-King’s methods, procedures, and policies with which Jani-King requires
Plaintiff to comply “are numerous and detailed and control the manner in which Plaintiffs and
the putative class members must perform their tasks.” Id.
Plaintiffs also maintain that Jani-King deducts monthly various sums of money from their
wages, including royalty fees, advertising fees, finder’s fees, accounting fees, technology fees,
complaint fees, services fees, non-reported business fees, client sales tax, lease deductions, and
various other fees. Id. ¶ 23.
Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit on December 5, 2016, and, on February 9, 2017, filed an
Amended Complaint, alleging two counts: (1) Jani-King has violated the Minimum Wage Act;
and (2) Jani-King has been unjustly enriched. ECF Nos. 1, 41.
On March 31, 2018, the Court dismissed Count One of the Amended Complaint, except
to the extent that the various fees and deductions required under the Agreement may violate
public policy, as expressed by Section 31-73(b) of the Connecticut General Statutes.
Plaintiffs now move for reconsideration, or, in the alternative, for the Court to certify the
question for definitive resolution by the Connecticut Supreme Court. No. 83.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
“The standard for granting [a motion for reconsideration] is strict, and reconsideration
will generally be denied unless the moving party can point to controlling decisions or data that
the court overlooked—matters, in other words, that might reasonably be expected to alter the
conclusion reached by the court.” Shrader v. CSX Transp., Inc., 70 F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995).
“The major grounds justifying reconsideration are an intervening change of controlling law, the
availability of new evidence, or the need to correct a clear error or prevent manifest injustice.”
Virgin Atlantic Airways, Ltd. v. Nat’l Mediation Bd., 956 F.2d 1245, 1255 (2d Cir. 1992)
(internal citations omitted). A motion for reconsideration generally does not allow the moving
party to revisit arguments that have already been presented before the court. See Shrader, 70
F.3d at 257 (“[A] motion for reconsideration should not be granted where the moving party seeks
solely to relitigate an issue already decided.”)
Plaintiffs ask the Court to reconsider whether Plaintiffs could recover certain categories
of damages, if Plaintiffs were to prevail on their claim that certain payments constituted wages
under Section 31-71(e) of the Connecticut General Statues. The Court declines to do so.
Plaintiffs do not present new evidence and do not argue clear legal error under authority
binding on this Court; instead, Plaintiffs argue the Court should adopt the position of the
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in Awuah v. Coverall North America, Inc., 952 N.E.2d
890 (Mass. 2011). It is well-settled that a court sitting in diversity must apply the substantive law
of the forum state on issues that would bear on the outcome of the issue. Travelers Ins. Co. v.
633 Third Assocs., 14 F.3d 114, 119 (2d Cir. 1994); accord 28 U.S.C. § 1652 (“The laws of the
several states, except where the Constitution or treaties of the United States or Acts of Congress
otherwise require or provide, shall be regarded as rules of decision in civil actions in the courts
of the United States, in cases where they apply.”); see also Erie R.R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S.
64, 78 (1938) (“Except in matters governed by the Federal Constitution or by acts of Congress,
the law to be applied in any case is the law of the state. And whether the law of the state shall be
declared by its Legislature in a statute or by its highest court in a decision is not a matter of
federal concern.”). Plaintiffs therefore have provided no basis for the Court to reconsider the
Alternatively, Plaintiffs argue that the Court should certify the question to the
Connecticut Supreme Court to provide interpretive guidance. The Court disagrees.
Connecticut law provides that “[t]he Supreme Court may answer a question of law
certified to it by a court of the United States . . . if the answer may be determinative of an issue in
pending litigation in the certifying court and if there is no controlling appellate decision,
constitutional provision or statute of this state.” Conn. Gen. Stat. § 51–199b(d). “[I]f there is
controlling authority on point, the question should not be certified.” Yale Univ. v. Konowaloff,
No. 3:09-cv-466 (AWT), 2011 WL 13238541, at *1 (D. Conn. Sept. 30, 2011) (citation omitted).
The Connecticut Supreme Court has addressed the issue of wages under 31-71(e) in
Mytych v. May Department Stores Co., 260 Conn. 152 (2002), and, more recently in Geysen v.
Securitas Sec. Services USA, Inc., 322 Conn. 385 (2016). Because the Connecticut courts have
rendered “controlling appellate decision[s]” that specifically address the question Plaintiffs have
put at issue, Plaintiffs have failed to provide a sufficient basis for certification under Conn. Gen.
Stat. § 51–199b(d).
For the reasons discussed above, the motion for reconsideration is DENIED.
SO ORDERED at Bridgeport, Connecticut, this 12th day of April, 2018.
/s/ Victor A. Bolden
VICTOR A. BOLDEN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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