GERALD FARMER, POMPEY HICKS, ANTWON WILLIAMS, individually, and on behalf of all others similarly situated, and STEVEN EMLING, SILAS JUNIOUS, and ODELL STIFFEND, individually, Plaintiffs,
DIRECTSAT USA, LLC, JAY HEABERLIN, LLOYD RIDDLE, DAN YANNANTUONO, and UNITEK USA, LLC, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
JOHN Z. LEE, District Judge.
Plaintiffs Gerald Farmer, Pompey Hicks, Antwon Williams, Steven Emling, Silas Junious, and Odell Stiffend (collectively "Named Plaintiffs") are former installation and service technicians at DirectSat USA, LLC ("DirectSat"). They sued DirectSat, Jay Heaberlin, Lloyd Riddle, Dan Yannantuono, and Unitek USA, LLC, (collectively "Defendants") alleging that Defendants violated the Illinois Minimum Wage Law ("IMWL"), 820 ILCS § 105, et seq., and the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., by failing to pay technicians for all of the time they were required to work. On December 30, 2008, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, the Court certified an IMWL class of "all individuals who were employed by DirectSat as service technicians or production technicians in the state of Illinois between December 3, 2006 and June 11, 2008." See Dkt. 40. Defendants now move to decertify that class, arguing that the Seventh Circuit's recent decision in Espenscheid v. DirectSat USA, LLC, 705 F.3d 770 (7th Cir. 2013), requires decertification. For the following reasons, the Court agrees and grants Defendants' motion.
As set forth in the Court's previous orders, DirectSat provides fulfillment installation services to DirectTV, a satellite television provider. See Farmer, 2010 WL 3927640, at *3. At its field offices, DirectSat employs managers, field supervisors, and technicians. Id. During the class period, DirectSat maintained field offices in Bedford Park, Bolingbrook, and Algonquin, Illinois. Id. Farmer, Hicks, and Stiffend worked out of the Bedford Park field office, and Williams, Emling, and Junious worked out of the Bolingbrook field office. Id.
Plaintiffs worked as full-time satellite technicians, driving company-assigned vans bearing a DirectTV logo to private homes and commercial establishments to install and service satellite dishes and related equipment. Id. DirectSat permitted them to park the vans at their residences at night, so they often began and ended their work day at their homes. Id. Each day, DirectSat sent job assignments to their homes via facsimile or email that they would review prior to planning their route for the day. Id.
DirectSat compensated technicians on a piece-rate basis - so many dollars per job - rather than a fixed hourly wage. Id. at *4. To ensure this compensation complied with federal and state law, which mandate a minimum wage for every hour worked and a wage 1.5 times the regular hourly wage for every hour worked in excess of 40 hours per week, DirectSat required technicians to report hours worked on weekly timesheets. Id. DirectSat divided the amount earned through the piece-rate system by the technician's reported hours worked to calculate an effective hourly wage. Id. If that wage was below the applicable federal or state minimum wage, DirecSat adjusted the hourly rate so that the technician received the appropriate minimum wage. Id. If the technician worked more than forty hours in a week, DirectSat paid the technician for that time at a rate equal to his effective hourly wage multiplied by 1.5. Id.
Plaintiffs allege that DirectSat failed to pay them for all the work they performed by prohibiting them from recording time worked before they arrived at their first job of the day and after they left their last job of the day. They allege that before going to the day's first job, they spent time receiving daily assignments, calling the first customer, loading the van, and driving to the first job. After leaving the day's last job, they allege that they spent time unloading tools from their van.
On December 30, 2008, the Court certified an IMWL class of approximately 512 technicians. Id. at *8; (Dkt. 91, Ex. 2, Decl. Vincent P. Harnett, ¶ 5.) After the close of fact discovery, Defendants moved to decertify the class, but on October 4, 2010, the Court denied Defendants' motion. See Farmer, 2010 WL 3927640, at *24. Now, Defendants again move to decertify the class.
"An order that grants or denies class certification may be altered or amended before final judgment." Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(c)(1)(C). Indeed, "a favorable class determination by the court is not cast in stone." Eggleston v. Chi. Journeymen Plumbers' Local Union No. 130, U.A., 657 F.2d 890, 869 (7th Cir. 1981). "If the certification of the class is later deemed to be improvident, the court may decertify." Id. On a motion to decertify a class, the party seeking class certification "bears the burden of producing a record demonstrating the continued propriety of maintaining the class action." Ellis v. Elgin Riverboat Resort, 217 F.R.D. 415, 419 (N.D. Ill. 2003).
In general, "[t]he class action is an exception to the usual rule that litigation is conducted by and on behalf of the individual named parties only." Wal-Mart Stores Inc. v. Dukes, 131 S.Ct. 2541, 2550 (2011) (internal citations and quotations omitted). To justify a departure from that rule, "a class representative must be part of the class and possess the same interest and suffer the same injury as the class members." Id. (internal quotations omitted). "Rule 23(a) ensures that the named plaintiffs are appropriate representatives of the class whose claims they wish to litigate." Id.
To be certified under Rule 23(a), a proposed class must satisfy each of the rule's four requirements: "(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable; (2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class; (3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims and defenses of the class; and (4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class." Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a).
If Rule 23(a) is satisfied, a proposed class must fall within one of the three categories in Rule 23(b), which the Seventh Circuit has described as: "(1) a mandatory class action (either because of the risk of incompatible standards for the party opposing the class or because the risk that the class action adjudication would, as a practical matter, either dispose of the claims of non-parties or substantially impair their interests), (2) an action seeking final injunctive or declaratory relief, or (3) a case in which the common questions predominate and class treatment is superior." Spano, 633 F.3d at 583.
"Rule 23 does not set forth a mere pleading standard." Dukes, 131 S.Ct. at 2551. "On issues affecting class certification... a court may not simply assume the truth of the matters as asserted by the plaintiff." Messner v. Northshore Univ. HealthSys., 669 F.3d 802, 811 (7th Cir. 2012). Rather, the named plaintiff bears the burden of showing that a proposed class satisfies each requirement of Rule 23 by a preponderance of the evidence. Id. "Failure to meet any one of the requirements of Rule 23 precludes certification of a class." Harriston v. Chi. Tribune Co., 992 F.2d 697, 703 (7th Cir. 1993). Moreover, certification is ...