The opinion of the court was delivered by: Irma E. Gonzalez, Chief Judge United States District Court
ORDER: (1) DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND [Doc. No. 4]; and (2) DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS, TRANSFER, OR STAY [Doc. No. 2].
This is a putative class action alleging various claims for unpaid wages under California state law. Currently before the Court are Defendant's Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction, to Transfer to the Eastern District of Missouri, or to Stay Plaintiff's Claims, [Doc. No. 2], and Plaintiff's Motion to Remand to State Court, [Doc. No. 4]. Having considered the parties' arguments, and for the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES both motions.
The present action is brought by Plaintiff Brooke Gardner ("Gardner"), individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, against Defendant GC Services LP (hereinafter, the "Gardner action"). Two earlier-filed actions are also relevant to the disposition of the motions currently pending before the Court. The first one is an action brought by Darryl Easley, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, against GC Services LP and GC Services Corp. (hereinafter, the "Easley action"). The second one is an action brought by Lora Meyers, Sherry Clere, Patricia Glass, Nota Jean Barnes, Debra Davis, Cecilia Koster, Johnna Parker, Steven Christy, and Peggy Spurlock, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, against GC Services LP (hereinafter, the "Meyers action"). Each of these is discussed in turn below.
On October 20, 2009, Darryl Easley, a Missouri resident and former employee at one of GC Services' Missouri call centers, filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri alleging that he and other similarly situated employees of GC Services and GC Services Corp. were required to work "off the clock" without compensation and were not paid time-and-a-half for overtime hours worked. The Easley complaint alleged causes of actions under the Federal Labor Standards Act of 1938 ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-262, as well as under Missouri's wage and hour laws. (Def. Motion, Ex. C, ¶¶ 31-52.)
On November 13, 2009, the Meyers Plaintiffs filed an action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia similarly alleging that they were required to perform "off the clock" work without compensation and were not paid appropriate overtime wages. The Meyers complaint alleged only a cause of action pursuant to the FLSA. (Id., Ex. D, ¶¶ 44-53.) While the case at first appeared to include only employees in West Virginia, it was later amended--in cooperation with the Easley attorneys--to seek a nationwide collective action involving the exact class of employees making the same claims as in the Easley lawsuit. (See id., Ex. E.) The Meyers lawsuit also included opt-in Plaintiffs from California. (See id., Ex. E, ¶ 18; id., Ex. F.)
Just like in the present case, defendant GC Services in the Meyers lawsuit moved to dismiss or, in the alternative, to transfer or stay the action in the Southern District of West Virginia in favor of the action then-pending in the Eastern District of Missouri. On March 18, 2010, the district court granted defendant's motion, finding that the first-to-file rule should apply, and transferred the action to the Eastern District of Missouri. (Id., Ex. B.)
Thereafter, plaintiffs in the Easley and Meyers actions moved to have them consolidated in the Eastern District of Missouri, and on April 26, 2010, the combined plaintiffs filed an Amended Consolidated Complaint (hereinafter, the "Beasely action"). (Id., Ex. A.) The Beasely complaint alleged a single claim for violation of the FLSA, (id., Ex. A, ¶¶ 21-29), and specifically excluded GC Services' California employees from the putative plaintiff class, (id., Ex. A, ¶ 19). Plaintiffs also filed the opt-in consent forms for all those who previously opted into the Meyers case, except for the two California employees. (See id., Ex. H.)
Finally, on March 24, 2010, Gardner--represented by the same attorneys as the plaintiffs in the Beasely lawsuit--filed the present action in the Superior Court for the County of San Diego, alleging five cause of action: (1) failure to pay straight-time wages in violation of California state law; (2) failure to pay overtime wages in violation of California state law; (3) failure to pay all compensation due and owing at termination in violation of California state law; (4) violation of the California Business and Professions Code ...