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Davis v. Uhh Wee, We Care Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 28, 2018

WHITNEY DAVIS Plaintiff,
v.
UHH WEE, WE CARE INC. D/B/A UHH WEE WE CARE ASSISTED LIVING, ETAL. Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Ellen Lipton Hollander United States District Judge.

         In this wage dispute litigation, plaintiffs Whitney Greene Davis and Michael Chapman filed a collective action against Uhh Wee, We Care Inc., d/b/a Uhh Wee We Care Assisted Living ("Uhh Wee"); Uhh Wee, We Care Transportation, Inc. d/b/a Uhh Wee We Care Assisted Living ("Uhh Wee Transportation"); and Edwina Murray, the sole owner of Uhh Wee and Uhh Wee Transportation. See ECF 1 ("Complaint").[1] Plaintiffs requested, inter alia, unpaid minimum and overtime wages for work performed for Uhh Wee, a group home operator, and Uhh Wee Transportation, a provider of transportation services. See ECF 1 ("Complaint").

         In particular, plaintiffs have alleged violations of the following statutes in connection with minimum and overtime wages: the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq.; the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law ("MWPCL"), Md. Code (2016 Repl. Vol., 2017 Supp.), §§ 3-501 et seq, of the Labor and Employment Article ("L.E."); and the Maryland Wage and Hour Law ("MWHL"), L.E. §§ 3-401 et seq.

         Additionally, the suit includes claims of quantum meruit on behalf of Davis and Chapman; fraud and negligent misrepresentation on behalf of Chapman; and wrongful discharge on behalf of Davis. ECF 1 at 11-16. Notably, Davis and Chapman represent different categories of plaintiffs: Chapman sought to represent similarly situated weekend care providers, while Davis purports to represent similarly situated dispatchers.

         On June 9, 2017, Chapman sought to be dismissed from the suit. ECF 31-1; ECF 33. On September 11, 2017, defendant Murray filed a motion to dismiss Chapman, relying on Chapman's prior requests. ECF 31. I granted the motion on March 5, 2018. ECF 39. The circumstances surrounding Chapman's dismissal are discussed, infra. Although Chapman has been dismissed, I shall refer to "plaintiffs" in the plural throughout this Memorandum Opinion, unless otherwise noted.

         In response to Chapman's request for dismissal, on June 22, 2017, plaintiffs' counsel filed a "Motion For Leave To Secure Intervention Of A Substitute Representative Plaintiff." ECF 14. The Court previously addressed portions of this motion. In particular, I vacated the deadlines as to the joinder of additional parties, amendment of the Complaint, and the filing of motions for conditional certification. See ECF 21, ¶ 1; see also ECF 14 at 5. However, the submission also asks the Court to order defendants to provide plaintiffs with the names and contact information of their current and former weekend care providers for any time between three years prior to the date of the filing of the suit (i.e., February 17, 2014), and "the present." I shall refer to this request as the "Motion." The Motion is pending.[2]

         Defendants oppose the Motion. ECF 29 ("Opposition"). Plaintiffs filed a reply. ECF 32 ("Reply"). With leave of Court (ECF 40), defendants filed a surreply (ECF 41, "Surreply") on March 5, 2018.

         The Motion is fully briefed and no hearing is necessary to resolve it. See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, I shall grant the Motion.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background[3]

         Chapman and Davis are former employees of Uhh Wee and Uh Wee Transportation. ECF 1, ¶ 1. Davis claims that she worked for these companies as a dispatcher for several weeks and that in at least one of those weeks, she worked over 40 hours. Id. ¶ 37. Moreover, she alleges that her only compensation for her work was a $200 check. Id. ¶ 41.

         Chapman worked as a weekend care provider, ECF 1, ¶ 1. Chapman claimed that he was not paid the required overtime wages, even though he regularly worked 72-hour shifts for Uhh Wee. Id. ¶¶ 20, 28, 42.

         In the Motion (ECF 14), plaintiffs' counsel recounts that Chapman unexpectedly asked plaintiffs' counsel to dismiss him from the case. Id. ¶¶ 9, 10. According to the Motion, Chapman "suddenly sent [plaintiffs'] counsel a fax message-sent from Defendants' business address-indicating that he wished to dismiss his claims[.]" Id. ¶ 9. Then, "during a subsequent conversation with [plaintiffs'] counsel, Mr. Chapman affirmed his desire to dismiss his claims but made clear that he wished to do so without prejudice." Id. ¶ 10.

         Moreover, plaintiffs' counsel claims that defendant Murray materially altered time sheets for Chapman before providing them to plaintiffs in discovery. Id. ¶ 6-8; see also ECF 14-2 at 1-62 (62 time sheets for Chapman spanning 21 months). Further, the Motion asserts that plaintiffs' counsel discussed the altered time sheets with Chapman just one week before Chapman "suddenly" sought to withdraw from the case. ECF 14, ¶ 9.

         Accordingly, plaintiffs' counsel asks the Court, among other things, to "allow reasonable time to secure an intervenor plaintiff to serve as representative in this proposed collective action," taking the place of Chapman. Id. ¶ 11. In particular, plaintiffs request "60 days ... to move for intervention of a substitute representative plaintiff for weekend care providers." ECF 14-1 (plaintiffs' proposed order) ¶ 4; see also ECF 14 at 5. Further, to help identify an intervenor to replace Chapman, plaintiffs' counsel asks the court to order defendants to provide "the names and any and all contact information of each and every other care provider who worked on weekends at Defendants' group homes at any time from 3 years prior to date of filing of the Complaint through the present." ECF 14 at 5; see also ECF 14-1, ¶ 3.

         On June 29, 2017-one week after plaintiffs filed the Motion-defendants' counsel filed a "Motion to Withdraw Appearance" (ECF 17), stating that he had been discharged by Murray. Id. ¶ 3; see also ECF 17-3 (letter from counsel to Murray citing their "irreconcilable ...


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