United States District Court, D. Maryland
TYLER JOHNSON, et al., Individually and on behalf of similarly situated employees
HELION TECHNOLOGIES, INC.
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
pending in this Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”)
case are: (1) a motion for conditional certification and
court-authorized notice filed by Plaintiffs Tyler Johnson,
James Phelan, William Toomey, and Matthew Willis
(“Plaintiffs”) (ECF No. 11); (2) a motion for
leave to file an amended complaint filed by Plaintiffs (ECF
No. 19); and (3) a motion to consolidate filed by Plaintiffs
(ECF No. 22). The issues have been briefed, and the court now
rules, no hearing being deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6.
For the following reasons, Plaintiffs' motion to amend
will be denied in part and granted in part; Plaintiffs'
motion for conditional certification and court-authorized
notice will be granted; and Plaintiffs' motion to
consolidate will be denied as moot.
Tyler Johnson (“Plaintiff Johnson”) and Plaintiff
James Phelan (“Plaintiff Phelan”) filed a
complaint on behalf of themselves and those that are
similarly situated on October 23, 2018. (ECF No. 1). The
complaint alleges that Defendant improperly classified them
as exempt employees and failed to pay them overtime wages in
violation of the FLSA, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq.;
the Maryland Wage and Hour Law (“MWHL”), Md.Code
Ann., Lab. & Empl. § 3-401, et seq.; and
the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law
(“MWPCL”), Md.Code Ann., Lab. & Emp. §
3-501 et seq. Plaintiff Matt Willis
(“Plaintiff Willis”) filed a notice of consent to
become a party-plaintiff on October 24, 2018. (ECF No. 3).
Plaintiff William Toomey (“Plaintiff Toomey”)
filed a notice of consent to become a party-plaintiff on
November 8, 2018. (ECF No. 5).
December 6, 2018, Defendant filed lawsuits against Plaintiff
Johnson and Plaintiff Toomey in Maryland state court. As
defendants in those state cases, Johnson and Toomey filed
Notices of Removal and removed the state court cases to this
court. When the removed actions reached this court, they were
filed as separate actions before different judges. A motion
to consolidate was filed and one of the judges granted the
motion, directing that all future filings be made in the FLSA
case. The cases were then all assigned to this member of the
bench. The order consolidating the cases was vacated and the
lawsuit against Plaintiff Johnson, Civil Action No. 19-0036,
was severed from the FLSA case and remanded to the Circuit
Court. (ECF No. 33). The lawsuit against Plaintiff Toomey,
Civil Action No. 19-0037, remains pending despite
Defendant's filing of its first amended answer and
counterclaim. (ECF No. 41). The parties submitted
supplemental briefing to address the effect of
Defendant's counterclaim against Plaintiff Toomey on the
pending motion for conditional certification. (ECF No. 42;
ECF No. 44).
“provides information technology (“IT”)
support for automobile dealerships. . . across the United
States, providing for [its dealership clients] a reliable,
efficient, and secure IT network and all troubleshooting
assistance necessary to diagnose and resolve problems that
arise within that network.” (ECF No. 21-1, at 2 ¶
2). Defendant employed Plaintiff Johnson as a Desktop Support
Technician and an Outsource Field Specialist. (ECF No. 11-3).
Defendant employed Plaintiff Phelan as a Systems Support
Technician. (ECF No. 11-5). Defendant employed Plaintiff
Toomey as a Field Technician. (ECF No. 11-6). Defendant
employed Plaintiff Willis as a Desktop Support Technician.
(ECF No. 11-4).
April 26, 2019, Plaintiff Willis and Defendant jointly moved
for approval of acceptance of offer of judgment and entry of
judgment. (ECF No. 34). On May 9, 2019, the court granted the
joint motion and entered judgment in favor of Plaintiff
Willis and against Defendant “in the amount of $2,
850.00 in wages, $2, 850.00 in liquidated damages, and $6,
112.00 in attorneys' fees and costs[.]” (ECF No.
36, at 1-2). The parties' supplemental briefing also
addressed the effect of Plaintiff Willis's acceptance of
the offer of judgment on the pending motion for conditional
certification. (ECF No. 42; ECF No. 44).
August 20, 2019, Plaintiff Johnson and Defendant jointly
moved for approval of acceptance of offer of judgment and
entry of judgment. (ECF No. 45). The parties requested that
the court approve Plaintiff Johnson's acceptance of
Defendant's offer of judgment and enter judgment in favor
of Plaintiff Johnson and against Defendant “in the
amount of $5, 250.00 in wages, $5, 250.00 in liquidated
damages, and $21, 000.00 in attorneys' fees and
costs.” (ECF No. 45-1, at 1). The parties also
indicated that Plaintiff Johnson's acceptance was
“conditioned on [Defendant] dismissing with prejudice
the action which [Defendant] has initiated against [Plaintiff
Johnson] in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County. . . and
[Defendant] has agreed to that condition.”
(Id., at 2). The court denied the motion without
prejudice because the parties failed to provide any
information to support the requested attorneys' fees and
costs. (ECF No. 46, at 7-8). Nevertheless, the court decided
the presently pending motions with the expectation that the
parties will address the joint motion's deficiencies and
that Plaintiff Johnson will no longer proceed as a plaintiff
in this action.
Motion to Amend
filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint on
January 28, 2019. (ECF No. 19). A party may amend its
pleading once as a matter of course within 21 days after
serving it or within 21 days after service of a motion under
Rule 12(b), whichever is earlier. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1). When
the right to amend as a matter of course expires, “a
party may amend its pleading only with the opposing
party's written consent or the court's leave.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Rule 15(a)(2) provides that courts
should “freely give leave [to amend] when justice so
requires, ” and commits the matter to the discretion of
the district court. See Simmons v. United Mortg. &
Loan Inv., LLC, 634 F.3d 754, 769 (4th Cir.
2011). Denial of leave to amend is appropriate
“only when the amendment would be prejudicial
to the opposing party, there has been bad faith on the part
of the moving party, or the amendment would be futile.”
Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 242
(4th Cir. 1999) (emphasis in original) (quoting
Johnson v. Oroweat Foods Co., 785 F.2d 503, 509
(4th Cir. 1986)).
to amend may be denied as futile “if the proposed
amended complaint fails to satisfy the requirements of the
federal rules[, ]” including federal pleading
standards. Katyle v. Perm Nat. Gaming, Inc., 637
F.3d 462, 471 (4th Cir. 2011) (quoting United
States ex rel. Wilson v. Kellogg Brown & Root, Inc.,
525 F.3d 370, 376 (4th Cir. 2008); Oroweat
Foods Co., 785 F.2d at 510 (“Leave to amend,
however, should only be denied on the ground of futility when
the proposed amendment is clearly insufficient or frivolous
on its face.” (citations omitted)). A pleading need not
contain detailed factual allegations, but the plaintiff must
allege enough facts to make the claim appear “plausible
on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007); see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“Threadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice.” (citation omitted)).
Accordingly, denial of leave to amend is appropriate if the
court, taking as true the allegations of the proposed amended
pleading, would be compelled to dismiss the action. See
Kellogg Brown & Root, 525 F.3d at 376.
motion for leave to amend, Plaintiffs allege that Defendant
filed lawsuits against Plaintiffs Johnson and Toomey in
Maryland state court “for a retaliatory
purpose.” (ECF No. 19, at 1 ¶ 5).
Plaintiffs' motion attaches a Proposed Amended Complaint
(“PAC”) that alleges Defendant's
“claims against Plaintiffs Johnson and Toomey are
baseless.” (Id. at 2, ¶ 9). The PAC also
attaches affidavits from Plaintiffs Johnson and Toomey. (ECF
No. 19-3; ECF No. 19-4).
challenges Plaintiff's motion on two grounds: (1)
amendment would be futile; and, (2) amendment would be
duplicative of the counterclaims raised by Plaintiffs Johnson
and Toomey in the state court cases. (ECF No. 23, at 3-11).
motion to amend the complaint to include allegations that
Defendant filed the lawsuit against Plaintiff Johnson for a
retaliatory purpose will be denied. The parties represented
to the court that Plaintiff Johnson accepted an offer of
judgment and that Defendant agreed to dismiss its action
against Plaintiff Johnson. (ECF No. 45-1, at 1-2). ...