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Ramirez-Marin v. JD Classic Builders Corp: Court Confirms that Opt-In Plaintiffs are Party to State Law Claims

In Ramirez-Marin v. JD Classic Builders Corp., the Court addressed a procedurally esoteric question: can a named-plaintiff assert state law claims on behalf of persons who filed “opt-in consents” to participate in the FLSA portion of an action? The Court confirmed that opt-in plaintiffs, upon filing a consent, are deemed to assert all claims contained in the action. See No. 16-CV-5584 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 30, 2017).

The named-plaintiff filed an action alleging collective claims under the FLSA and putative class claims under the NYLL. The named-plaintiff secured conditional certification of an FLSA collective, which resulted in a number of persons filing “consents” to become opt-in plaintiffs in the suit. The named-plaintiff had not yet moved for Rule 23 class certification of the NYLL claims.

The defendant filed a partial motion to dismiss, seeking to have all NYLL claims purportedly asserted on behalf of the opt-in plaintiffs dismissed on the grounds that they were only party to the FLSA claims. In the defendant’s view, allowing opt-in plaintiffs to assert NYLL claims would amount to an end run around the requirements of Rule 23.

The Court disagreed in a succinct opinion. The Court found that upon the filing of a “consent,” an opt-in plaintiff became a party to the action and “should have the same status in relation to the claims of the lawsuit as do the named plaintiffs.” The Court based its decision on a plain reading of the text of 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), which characterizes those filing consents as “party plaintiff[s] to any such action.” The Court also rejected the argument that the named-plaintiff needed to satisfy Rule 23 at this juncture: the Court drew a distinction between the permissible assertion of state law claims by parties to an action and the certification of such claims to proceed on a class basis.

Copyright © 2019, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.

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About this Author

Brian D. Murphy, Labor and Employment Legal Specialist, Sheppard Mulllin
Attorney

Brian D. Murphy is an associate in the Labor & Employment practice group in the firm's New York office.

Areas of Practice

Mr. Murphy has extensive experience in all areas of labor and employment law, including discrimination and wrongful discharge cases, wage and hour cases, restrictive covenant and non-competition agreements, breach of contact cases, arbitrations and collective bargaining. Mr. Murphy has also focused on class and collective wage and hour litigation in New York and California federal and state courts. He also advises clients on matters...

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