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Piekarski v. Amedisys Illinois, LLC

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

May 28, 2013

THERESA PIEKARSKI, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,


JOHN W. DARRAH, District Judge.

On September 13, 2012, Plaintiff Theresa Piekarski filed this Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") collective action against Amedisys Holding LLC and Amedisys Illinois, LLC (collectively, the "Defendants"), on behalf of a putative class of Illinois home healthcare clinicians who work or had worked for Amedisys. Based on the same allegations, Plaintiff also asserted a claim under the Illinois Minimum Wage Law (IMWL), 820 ILCS 105/1 et seq.

On July 25, 2012, before Piekarski filed her Complaint, another FLSA action was filed against Amedisys in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut on behalf of a putative nationwide class of clinicians, Cook v. Amedisys, Inc., No. 3:12-cv-1082. Defendants have moved to stay the present case, pending resolution of the issues in the first-filed Cook case. Defendants also have moved for a protective order regarding discovery; and, in response, Piekarski has requested an equitable tolling of the statute of limitations.


The Parties

Plaintiff Piekarski, a resident of Crystal Lake, Illinois, was employed by Defendants as a Psychiatric Registered Nurse between approximately August 2011 and May 2012. (Compl. ¶¶ 19-20.) Defendant Amedisys Illinois, LLC is an Illinois corporation. ( Id. ¶ 22.) Defendant Amedisys Holdings, LLC is a Louisiana corporation and the sole member of Amedisys Illinois, LLC. ( Id. ¶¶ 24-26.) Defendants are in the business of providing home healthcare services throughout Illinois. ( Id. ¶ 2.)

The Instant Piekarski Case

On September 13, 2012, Plaintiff filed a two-count Complaint, asserting violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq., and the Illinois Minimum Wage Law (IMWL), 820 ILCS 105/1, et seq., for Defendants' alleged failure to pay home health clinicians overtime wages (the " Piekarski case"). ( Id. ¶ 1.) Plaintiff alleges that she and "persons similarly situated" to her are current and former clinicians, including Registered Nurses, Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Social Workers, and Speech Language Pathologists (collectively, "Clinicians"), who were, or are, employed by Amedisys to provide healthcare services to patients in their homes. ( Id. ¶ 3.) Plaintiff alleges that for the last three years, Defendants paid Clinicians on a combined "per visit" and hourly basis, without the payment of any overtime wages for the time they worked in excess of forty hours a week. ( Id. ¶¶ 5, 10.) Plaintiff further alleges that Defendants "misclassified" Plaintiff and other Clinicians as exempt from the overtime provisions of the FLSA and IMWL and therefore violated those provisions. ( Id. ¶14.)

The Cook Case in Connecticut

On July 25, 2012, plaintiffs Julie Cook, Scott Tomkins, and Joseph Husk filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut against Amedisys, Inc., on behalf of themselves "and others similarly situated, " in the matter of Cook v. Amedisys, Inc., No. 3:12-cv-01082 (Hon. Eginton). (Defs.' Mem. in Support of Mot. ("Defs.' Mot.") Exh. 1.) The Cook case asserts a FLSA claim and purports to encompass as plaintiffs all of Amedisys's "Registered Nurses, Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, and Speech Language Pathologists" employed anywhere in the United States since July 25, 2009. ( Id. at ¶¶ 6, 18.) The Cook complaint also generally describes the named plaintiffs and putative class members as "Clinicians." ( Id. at ¶¶ 3, 13.) According to the Cook complaint, these Clinicians were "misclassified... as exempt [from FLSA overtime requirements], because the per visit/hourly compensation plan [Amedisys allegedly uses to compensate these individuals] does not comply with either the salary or the fee basis requirements of the FLSA." ( Id. at ¶¶ 28, 37, 47.) The Cook complaint requests that the court, among other things, issue a notice of collective action under the FLSA to all of Amedisys's current and former (for a period of three years) Clinicians across the country, informing them of the lawsuit and providing them an opportunity to "opt in." ( Id. at Prayer ¶ 2.) The Cook case also purports to bring a claim on behalf of those Amedisys Clinicians who worked in Pennsylvania, asserts a violation of Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Law ("PMWL"), and seeks certification of a Pennsylvania class under Fed. R. of Civ. P. 23. ( Id. at ¶¶ 78-85.) Two Illinois employees of Amedisys, Bettye White and Beverly Richardson, have opted into the Cook case by filing written consents with the court. (Defs.' Mot. Ex. 3.)

Originally, the Defendants here moved to transfer the Piekarski case to be venued with the Cook case and to stay the proceedings before this Court. However, after the court in Cook denied the Cook defendants' motion to transfer venue to Louisiana in that case, the Piekarski Defendants have withdrawn their motion to transfer before this Court without explanation. The Piekarski Defendants' request for a stay, pending resolution of class and dispositive motions in the Cook case, and their related request for a protective order remain pending before this Court. The Piekarski Plaintiff has also requested an equitable tolling of the statute of limitations for other prospective plaintiffs.


It is within the discretion of the trial court to manage its docket and, when appropriate, stay proceedings. "[T]he power to stay proceedings is incidental to the power inherent in every court to control the disposition of the causes on its docket with economy of time and effort for itself, for counsel, and for litigants." See, e.g., Tex. Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Ass'n v. EPA, 410 F.3d 964, 980 (7th Cir. 2004) (quoting Landis v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936)). In determining whether to grant a stay, the court may consider the following factors: (1) "whether a stay will unduly prejudice or tactically disadvantage the non-moving party, " (2) "whether a stay will simplify the issues in question and streamline the trial, " and (3) "whether a stay will reduce the burden of litigation on the parties and on the court." Pfizer Inc. v. Apotex Inc., 640 F.Supp.2d 1006, 1007 ...

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