United States District Court, W.D. Texas, San Antonio Division
KEVIN LANGEN, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED; Plaintiff,
CRESCENT DRILLING AND PRODUCTION, INC., Defendant.
ORDER SEVERING AND STAYING CASE
ELIZABETH S. ("BETSY") CHESTNEY UNITED STATES
the Court is the above-styled and numbered cause of action is
the Motion to Stay Proceedings as to Plaintiff Langen [#43]
filed by Langen's counsel. This case was referred to the
undersigned on May 7, 2019 for all pretrial proceedings. By
their motion, Langen's counsel asks the Court for a stay
of all claims raised by and against Langen in this lawsuit
due to Langen's unexpected death. In response to the
motion, the Court set this case for a status conference. At
the conference, the parties reached an agreement as to how to
proceed, which the Court now memorializes with this Order.
Kevin Langen, on behalf of himself and all others similarly
situated, filed this collective action against Defendant
Crescent Drilling & Production, Inc. (“CDP”),
seeking unpaid overtime compensation under the Fair Labor
Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) (“FLSA”).
Defendant counterclaimed against Langen, alleging Langen
previously filed suit to recover the alleged unpaid overtime
compensation he seeks through this lawsuit and has breached
the settlement agreement that resolved that action by filing
a second lawsuit. Langen moved to dismiss the counterclaim,
and the undersigned issued a report and recommendation
recommending denial of the motion [#29]. The report remains
pending before the District Court. No. motion for conditional
certification has been filed, but two additional Plaintiffs
have opted into this lawsuit to date-Fritz John Hoeflein, III
and Raul Solis, III [#34, #39].
subsequently filed a motion for summary judgment on its
counterclaim against Langen [#37]. During the response period
for the motion for summary judgment, Langen unexpectedly
died. Plaintiff filed a suggestion of death [#41] and filed
the motion to stay before the Court, which requests staying
Langen's FLSA claims and Defendant's counterclaim,
including the response deadline for the motion for summary
judgment. The parties appeared for a status conference on
this day to address the impact of Langen's death on this
lawsuit and reached an agreement as to how to proceed.
conference, the parties agreed that Langen's untimely
death and the unique threshold issues associated with his
claims make him ill-suited to continue as lead Plaintiff in
this collective action. The parties further agreed that
Langen's claims should proceed as an individual FLSA
action under this cause No. and the claims of the two opt-in
Plaintiffs should be severed and proceed under a new
Complaint as a collective action under a new cause number.
The parties further agreed that the entry of a stay is
appropriate in this case as to Langen's claims and
Defendant's counterclaim and the pending motion for
summary judgment because the estate of Langen does not yet
have an appointed administrator to represent the estate in
this case. Plaintiff's counsel agreed to notify the Court
when the probate court appoints an administrator such that
the stay can be lifted and a response deadline determined
with respect to the motion for summary judgment.
Rule of Civil Procedure 21 grants this Court discretion to
sever any claim against a party if a claim “is
misjoined or might otherwise cause delay or prejudice.”
Applewhite v. Reichhold Chems., 67 F.3d 571, 574
(5th Cir. 1995). See also Brunet v. United Gas Pipeline
Co., 15 F.3d 500, 505 (5th Cir. 1994) (trial courts have
broad discretion to sever claims pursuant to Rule 21).
Accordingly, the Court will sever the claims of the two
opt-in Plaintiffs from the claims asserted by and against
Langen, order the District Clerk to open a new lawsuit in
which the opt-in Plaintiffs may pursue their FLSA collective
action, grant the motion to stay, and order Langen's
counsel to advise the Court when an administrator is
appointed such that the stay may be lifted.
THEREFORE ORDERED that the District Court SEVER the claims of
Plaintiff Langen from the claims of the opt-in Plaintiffs
Fritz John Hoeflein, III and Raul Solis, III.
FURTHER ORDERED that the District Clerk open a new cause No.
with respect to the claims of opt-in Plaintiffs Fritz John
Hoeflein, III and Raul Solis, III and assign the new cause of
action to the Honorable Fred Biery with the associated
Magistrate Judge as Elizabeth S. (“Betsy”)
Chestney. The District Clerk should file the following
documents from this case into the new cause of action:
Plaintiff's Complaint [#1], Hoeflein's consent to
join [#34], Solis's consent to join [#39], and a copy of
FURTHER ORDERED that Hoflein and Solis file an Amended
Complaint within 14 days of this Order in the new cause of
action designating themselves as lead Plaintiffs in the
proposed FLSA collective action and removing the claims of
Langen. Defendant shall file an Answer to the Amended
Complaint in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil
FURTHER ORDERED that Motion to Stay Proceedings as to
Plaintiff Langen [#43] filed by Langen's counsel is
FURTHER ORDERED that this case (5:19-CV-320-FB) is STAYED
pending further Order of the Court.
FINALLY ORDERED that counsel for Langen file an Advisory with
the Court upon the appointment of an administrator of
Langen's estate such that the stay may be lifted and a
deadline for response to Defendant's motion for summary
judgment may be imposed. If no administrator is appointed on
or before December 4, 2019, Plaintiff should file an advisory
informing the Court of the same.