by Allen Ides
In Pruell v. Caritas Christi,
678 F.3d 10, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 7859 (1st Cir. Apr. 18, 2012) [an enhanced version of this opinion is available to lexis.com subscribers],
the First Circuit ruled that a complaint asserting violations of the Fair Labor
Standards Act (FLSA) lacked the factual specificity necessary to state a
plausible claim for relief, but further held that the plaintiffs were entitled
to file an amended complaint.
Background. Two individuals filed a putative class action against
hospitals and health care providers in a hospital network. They complained of
systematic under-compensation--in particular, a failure to compensate them for
work performed during their meal breaks, for work performed before and after
shifts, and for time spent attending training sessions. They alleged that the
defendants violated the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor
Standards Act (FLSA) [29 U.S.C. §§ 206-207] [an annotated version of this statute is available to lexis.com
subscribers] , as well as violations
of ERISA and RICO.
The district court granted a motion to dismiss the original complaint, finding
that the FLSA claim was not sufficiently pleaded, and that the ERISA and RICO claims
were also insufficient because they were derivative of the FLSA claim. The
court found that the plaintiffs had failed to plead one element of the FLSA
claim, specifically, that they had performed work for which they were
under-compensated, because the complaint lacked any information on the
plaintiffs' approximate weekly wages and hours worked, or even an allegation
that they had worked in excess of 40 hours in any week.
The plaintiffs filed an amended complaint, adding only a general allegation that
they, and the 12,000 putative class members, "regularly worked" over
40 hours a week and were not compensated for this time. The district court
found that the complaint was still deficient because it provided no specific
information about the named plaintiffs' specific employers or positions. This
time, the district court refused to allow further amendment and dismissed with
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is the Christopher N. May Professor of Law at Loyola Law School Los Angeles.
Professor Ides clerked for Chief Judge Clement Haynsworth of the Fourth Circuit
and Associate Justice Byron White of the United States Supreme Court. He
has published extensively in the areas of constitutional law and federal
procedure. See, e.g., A Critical Appraisal of the Supreme Court's
Decision in J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. v. Nicastro, 45 Loy. L.A. L. Rev.
341 (2012); The Standard for Measuring the Validity of a Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure: The Shady Grove Debate between Justices Scalia and Stevens,
86 Notre Dame Law Review 1041 (2011). His civil procedure casebook, co-authored
with Christopher N. May-Civil Procedure: Cases and Problems (Aspen 2012)-is in
its fourth edition.