Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Dietrick v. Apex Systems, LLC

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 18, 2019

EMILY DIETRICK, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
APEX SYSTEMS, LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Paula Xinis United States District Judge

         Pending in this Fair Labor Standards Act case is Defendant's motion to transfer venue (ECF No. 17) and partial motion to compel arbitration and stay litigation. ECF No. 18. The motions are fully briefed, and no hearing is necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6. For the following reasons, the Court grants the motion to transfer and denies the motion to compel arbitration without prejudice to re-file in the Eastern District of Virginia, if appropriate.

         I. Background

         Defendant Apex Systems, LLC (“Apex”) is a staffing agency that recruits job candidates for various employers. ECF No. 1 ¶ 10. Apex's corporate headquarters are located in Glen Allen, Virginia, which is also the location for its human resources and payroll departments and related corporate records. ECF No. 17-3 ¶¶ 2, 6, 10. The human resources and payroll departments develop and implement the practices and procedures governing employment matters for Apex's branch offices located throughout the country. Id. ¶¶ 7-8.[1]

         Plaintiffs Emily Dietrick, Steven Connell, Brock Deel, Monica Jones, and Tyler Suite all worked for Apex as “Recruiters.” Their job duties included searching online databases to identify and screen potential job candidates. Id. ¶¶ 11-16. The named Plaintiffs reside in different states and worked for different Apex branches. None worked or reside in Maryland.[2]

         On January 2, 2019, Plaintiffs, individually and on behalf of similarly situated employees, filed this nationwide class action against Apex for its alleged failure to pay overtime wages in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 68-79. Plaintiffs do not bring any state law claims or pursue class-wide relief under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Apex timely moved to transfer this case to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division. ECF No. 17.

         II. Analysis

         The propriety of transfer is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), which states, “[f]or the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought or to any district or division to which all parties have consented.” To prevail on a transfer motion, “the defendant must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the proposed transfer will better and more conveniently serve the interests of the parties and witnesses and better promote the interests of justice.” Jones v. Koons Auto., Inc., 752 F.Supp.2d 670, 680-81 (D. Md. 2010) (quoting Helsel v. Tishman Realty & Constr. Co., 198 F.Supp.2d 710, 711 (D. Md. 2002)) (internal quotation marks omitted). The defendant may not rely on conclusory allegations of hardship to meet this burden. Rather, it must demonstrate, by affidavit or otherwise, “the hardships [it] would suffer if the case were heard in the plaintiff's chosen forum.” Dow v. Jones, 232 F.Supp.2d 491, 499 (D. Md. 2002).

         When deciding the question of transfer, the Court first considers whether the action could have been brought in the requested forum. In re: Volkswagen of Am., Inc., 545 F.3d 304, 312 (4th Cir. 2008). If venue is proper in the requested forum, the Court next considers: “(1) the weight accorded the plaintiff's choice of venue; (2) witness convenience and access; (3) convenience of the parties; and (4) the interest of justice.” Lynch v. Vanderhoef Builders, 237 F.Supp.2d 615, 617 (D. Md. 2002).

         Apex requests transfer to the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division. Plaintiffs do not contest that venue would be proper in that court. ECF No. 20 at 3; see also 29 U.S.C. § 216(b); 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(1), (c)(2). Because venue is proper in the requested forum, the Court turns to the above-described factors.

         A. Plaintiffs' Choice of Venue

         Generally, the “plaintiff's ‘choice of venue is entitled to substantial weight.'” Trs. of the Plumbers and Pipefitters Nat'l Pension Fund v. Plumbing Servs., 791 F.3d 436, 444 (4th Cir. 2015) (quoting Bd. of Trs. v. Sullivant Ave. Props., LLC, 508 F.Supp.2d 473, 477 (E.D. Va. 2007)). In class actions, however, courts often accord less weight to the plaintiff's choice where several plaintiffs, each connected to different forums, may be able to demonstrate that each respective forum is appropriate for adjudication of the class claims. Kukich v. Electrolux Home Prods., Inc., No. ELH-16-3412, 2017 WL 345856, at *7 (D. Md. Jan. 24, 2017).

         In FLSA class actions, courts outside this Circuit are divided as to the weight accorded the plaintiff's choice of forum. Compare Farrior v. George Weston Bakeries Distribution, Inc., No. 08-CV-3705 JFB WDW, 2009 WL 113774, at *4 n.3 (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 15, 2009) (“[T]he rationale underlying giving less weight to plaintiff's choice of forum in a class action applies to this FLSA collective action . . . .”), with Holmes v. Sid's Sealants, LLC, No. 16-cv-821, 2017 WL 3834806, at *5 (W.D. Wis. Aug. 31, 2017) (finding that “cases under section 216 of the FLSA warrant greater deference to the plaintiff's choice of forum”).[3] Some have reasoned that the “opt-in” structure of the FLSA class action “‘strongly suggests that Congress intended to give plaintiffs considerable control over the bringing of a FLSA action, '” thus meriting greater deference to a plaintiff's choice of venue. See Salinas v. O'Reilly Auto., Inc., 358 F.Supp.2d 569, 571 (N.D. Tex. 2005) (quoting Alix v. Shoney's, Inc., 1997 WL 66771, at *2 (E.D. La. Feb. 18, 1997)).

         Providing greater deference to the plaintiff's choice of forum makes good sense where, for example, the plaintiffs affirmatively chose to file a new action rather than opting into ongoing litigation in another forum. Johnson v. Big Lots Stores, Inc., No. 04-3201, 2005 WL 357200, at *4 (E.D. La. Feb. 10, 2005) (“[T]ransferring this action to the Eastern District of Texas may have the de facto effect of forcing the plaintiffs to ‘opt-in' to the Texas suit.”). Or perhaps where the “plaintiffs had already ‘opted-in' to the lawsuit, ” thus demonstrating ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.