United States District Court, S.D. Texas
James Tuggle, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
Rockwater Energy Solutions, Inc., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND RECOMMENDATION
BRAY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Plummer has moved for conditional certification of a class.
(D.E. 56.) The court recommends that the motion be granted.
Background and Procedural Posture
Tuggle, the original plaintiff, filed this suit on June 15,
2018, individually and on behalf of all others similarly
situated, seeking recovery of unpaid overtime wages.
According to the live complaint, Rockwater failed to pay
overtime compensation to flowback operators as required under
the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Tuggle settled his claims through arbitration, Aaron Plummer
joined the lawsuit and filed a motion to conditionally
certify a class on June 12, 2019. (D.E. 56.) He asks the
court to conditionally certify and send notice to:
All flowback operators who worked for Rockwater during the
past [three] years who were classified as independent
contractors and paid a day-rate with no overtime.
(D.E. 52 at 2.) During the relevant time frame, Rockwater
hired workers through staffing companies such as Energy
Professionals Group LLC (EPG).
response, Rockwater asserts that Plummer is not similarly
situated to putative class members, that some class members
are subject to mandatory arbitration, and that some class
members may be seeking recovery in another lawsuit.
FLSA requires covered employers to pay employees overtime for
any workweeks longer than forty hours. 29 U.S.C. §
207(a). Employees can sue employers violating FLSA
regulations both individually and on behalf of "other
employees similarly situated." 29 U.S.C. § 216(b).
These similarly-situated individuals have the option to join
the collective action. Sandoz v. Cingular Wireless
LLC, 553 F.3d 913, 919 (5th Cir. 2008).
courts have discretion to send notice to potential opt-in
plaintiffs and many courts analyze the certification process
using what is commonly known as the
"Lusardi" method. In re JPMorgan Chase
& Co., 916 F.3d 494, 500 & n.9 (5th Cir. 2019)
(citing Lusardi v. Xerox Corp., 118 F.R.D. 351
(D.N.J. 1987)). Under Lusardi, the district court
first determines whether individuals are similarly situated
at the notice stage, generally based only on pleadings and
affidavits. Mooney v. Aramco Svcs. Co., 54 F.3d
1207, 1213-14 (5th Cir. 1995). This "fairly lenient
standard . . . typically results in conditional certification
of a representative class." Id. at 1214.
Lusardi approach later requires a second
determination upon a defendant's motion to decertify the
class after discovery is complete. Mooney, 54 F.3d
at 1214. Conditional certification of FLSA actions is
generally favored because it often reduces litigation costs
and promotes judicial efficiency. Walker v. Honghua
America, LLC, 870 F.Supp.2d 462, 466 (S.D. Tex. 2012).