United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division
MYERSCOUGH, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
cause is before the Court on Plaintiff Sebastian Lucas's
Motion for Equitable Tolling of the Statute of Limitations
(d/e 12). For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS the
filed his Complaint (d/e 1) on December 20, 2016 and his
Amended Complaint (d/e 26) on May 30, 2018. Plaintiff brings
claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C.
§ 201 et seq. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant JJ's
of Macomb, Inc., a Jimmy John's franchisee, misclassified
him and other assistant managers as exempt from the
FLSA's overtime provisions. Plaintiff intends to file a
motion to certify a collective action under § 216(b) of
the FLSA and to obtain court authorization to notify all
similarly situated current and former assistant managers of
Defendant of the opportunity to join this case. See
Motion at 2.
2014, over two years before Plaintiff brought this action,
another assistant manager employed at a different franchisee
than Defendant brought an FLSA collective action in the
Northern District of Illinois. That plaintiff sued her
franchisee and the Jimmy John's corporate franchisor for
unpaid overtime wages. The Court certified the collective
action, and 660 plaintiffs opted-in, including Mr. Lucas. Mr.
Lucas [hereinafter Plaintiff] then brought this action
against Defendant, who was his franchisee employer. Defendant
is different from the franchisee defendant in the Northern
District-the Northern District did not have personal
jurisdiction over Defendant. Over a dozen Northern District
opt-in plaintiffs have filed similar suits across the
country. See e.g., Ruder v. CWL Invs. LLC,
No. 16-cv-4460, 2017 WL 3834783 (D. Ariz.); Coyne v. Four
Leaf Clover Invs. LLC, No. 16-cv-1937 (E.D. Mo.);
Beck v. Savory Sandwiches, Inc., 265 F.Supp.3d 1209,
No. 17-cv-1009 (D. Col. 2017). Plaintiff brings the same
claims against Defendant as those alleged in the Northern
District against the corporate franchisor.
March 9, 2017, the Northern District enjoined Plaintiff and
the other collective action members who had brought similar
cases from pursuing the proceedings in this and the other
District Courts. See In re Jimmy John's Overtime
Litigation, No. 14-cv-5509 (N.D. Ill.). On April 3,
2017, pursuant to a joint motion by both parties, and in
light of the injunction, this Court stayed the proceedings in
this matter pending further order of the Northern District.
On December 14, 2017, the Seventh Circuit reversed the
Northern District's injunction against the proceedings in
other courts against other franchisees. See In re Jimmy
John's Overtime Litigation, 877 F.3d 756 (7th Cir.
2017). On February 28, 2018, this Court lifted the stay on
these proceedings pursuant to Plaintiff's motion.
April 6, 2017, three days after this Court stayed this case,
Plaintiff filed a Motion for Equitable Tolling of the Statute
of Limitations (d/e 12) asking the Court to toll the statute
of limitations from March 9, 2017, the date on which the
Northern District issued the injunction, to December 14,
2017, when the Seventh Circuit reversed the injunction. On
September 20, 2017, Plaintiff supplemented his motion with an
order in Beck v. Savory Sandwiches, Inc., a case
similar to this one in which the Court tolled the statute of
limitations on the plaintiff's claims with respect to the
defendant's (another Jimmy Johns franchise operator)
current and former employees who were eligible to opt-in to
that case. (d/e 15-1).
the FLSA, employees may bring a collective action against an
employer to recover unpaid overtime compensation on behalf of
themselves and on behalf of other similarly situated
employees. 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). Unlike class actions
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b), where potential
plaintiffs are included in the class unless they opt out,
potential plaintiffs in FLSA collective actions must
affirmatively opt in to the suit. Alvarez v. City of
Chi., 605 F.3d 445, 448 (7th Cir. 2010).
under the FLSA, the statute of limitations continues to run
for each potential plaintiff until he or she opts in to the
lawsuit. The FLSA requires that an action “be commenced
within two years after the cause of action accrued, ”
unless the violation was willful, in which case a three-year
statute of limitations applies. 29 U.S.C. § 255(a). An
FLSA lawsuit commences as to an individual claimant on: (1)
the date the complaint was filed if the claimant is
specifically named as a party in the complaint and he files
his written consent to become a party plaintiff on such date;
or (2) the date on which written consent is filed. 29 U.S.C.
§ 256. Therefore, the filing of the lawsuit does not
toll the statute of limitations for potential class members
until they file their own consents.
statute of limitations in FLSA suits is not jurisdictional
and equitable tolling can be applied. Bergman v. Kindred
Healthcare, Inc., 949 F.Supp.2d 852, 860 (N.D. Ill.
2013). Equitable tolling is warranted if the litigant
establishes (1) that he has been pursuing his rights
diligently; and (2) that some extraordinary circumstance
prevented timely filing. Knauf Insulation, Inc. v.
Southern Brands, Inc., 820 F.3d 904, 908 (7th Cir.
argues that the Court should equitably toll the statute of
limitations for the nine-month period that the injunction was
in place to avoid the possibility that putative plaintiffs
will lose the potential benefits of the lawsuit.
Plaintiff diligently pursued this action and ...