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Craighead v. Full Citizenship of Maryland, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

July 27, 2018

TALIA CRAIGHEAD, et al., Plaintiffs,


          Paula Xinis, United States District Judge

         Pending before the Court in this wage payment action is the Motion to Certify Class under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 filed by Plaintiffs Talia Craighead, Verenesha Hutchinson, Vernice Headen, and Pamela Ransom. (ECF No. 72.) Plaintiffs, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, have filed this action alleging that Defendant Full Citizenship of Maryland, Inc. (“FCI”) and FCI's Executive Director, Defendant Pansy Stancil-Diaz, violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. (“FLSA”) and analogous Maryland law. The matter has been fully briefed, and the Court rules pursuant to Local Rule 105.6 because no hearing is necessary. For the reasons below, Plaintiffs' Motion is GRANTED.

         I. Procedural and Factual Background

         This case was the subject of the Court's previous Memorandum Opinion and Order granting conditional certification under the FLSA. As noted in that Opinion, Plaintiffs were employed by FCI, a Maryland corporation, which provides residential, rehabilitative, and vocational training services to adults with cognitive disabilities. Plaintiffs worked as Residential Coordinators, Residential Counselors, Vocational Coordinators, and Vocational Counselors. ECF No. 72-1 at 1. Plaintiffs group those positions together as “residential and vocational staff, ” and assert they perform overlapping duties and are subject to the same compensation policies and practices. ECF No. 72-1 at 5.

         Plaintiffs initiated this suit on March 1, 2017. ECF No. 1. On August 4, 2017, Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint was filed. ECF No. 34. The parties then engaged in class and jurisdictional discovery. See ECF Nos. 27, 61, 63. Following the close of class and jurisdictional discovery, on February 12, 2018, Plaintiffs filed the pending motion, moving for class certification pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. ECF No. 72.

         In their motion, Plaintiffs argue that classwide treatment of this case is efficient and practical to adjudicate the claims of those employees who were subjected to a uniform illegal compensation scheme. The proposed class consists of all persons who were, are, or will be employed by Defendants as residential and vocational staff, who were paid by the hour, and who allegedly were not paid the legal minimum wage and/or overtime wage (one and one-half times their regular hourly rate) for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek, from March 1, 2014, through the present. ECF No. 72 at 1. Plaintiffs have provided 65 potential class members who allegedly did not receive their full overtime wages, ECF No. 72-1 at 12-13, and 25 potential class members who allege minimum wage violations, ECF No. 72-1 at 11. Some individual putative class members have both minimum wage and overtime claims. Plaintiffs have also provided a classwide damages summary sheet for approximately 80 individuals who worked as residential and vocational staff. ECF No. 72-19.[1]

         Defendants oppose certification, arguing that Plaintiffs fail to meet the requirements of Rules 23(a) and 23(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons below, the Court agrees with Plaintiffs and will certify the proposed class.

         II. Legal Standard

         Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs class certifications. The Court's analysis begins with a threshold inquiry as to whether the putative class is readily ascertainable. See EQT Prod. Co. v. Adair, 764 F.3d 347, 358 (4th Cir. 2014) (citation omitted). A putative class must be readily identifiable without resort to fact-finding; however a class is considered identifiable even if not every class member can be named at the certification stage. Id.

         With regard to certification, under Rule 23(a), the Court considers whether: (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 of the representative parties are typical of the claims 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, the Court then considers whether the proposed class falls into one of three enumerated categories set forth in Rule 23(b).

         Plaintiffs in this case maintain that certification is appropriate under Rule 23(b)(3), which permits certification where common questions of law or fact predominate over any questions affecting only individual members, and where proceeding as a class action is superior to other available methods of adjudication. Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(3); see Lienhart v. Dryvit Sys., Inc. 255 F.3d 138, 146-47 (4th Cir. 2001). Although likelihood of success on the merits does not directly implicate the propriety of class certification, the “rigorous analysis” required to determine whether to certify a class will often incidentally “entail some overlap with the merits of the plaintiff's underlying claim.” Wal Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 564 U.S. 338, 351-52 (2011); see Gariety v. Grant Thornton, LLP, 368 F.3d 356, 365 (4th Cir. 2004).

         III. Discussion

         As an initial matter, the ascertainability requirement is met. The FCI Employee List submitted in connection with this motion demonstrates that indicates that the class is readily identifiable. See EQT Prod. Co., 764 F.3d at 358. The Court now turns to the requirements of Rule 23(a) and 23(b)(3).

         A. Rule 23(a)

         1. ...

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