The opinion of the court was delivered by: Yvette Kane, Chief Judge United States District Court Middle District of Pennsylvania
(Chief Judge Yvette Kane)
Pending before the Court are Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings, or in the alternative, for summary judgment (Doc. No. 17); Plaintiffs' "Motion for Discovery under Rule 56(f) and in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment" (Doc. No. 24); and the parties' supporting briefs (Doc. Nos. 18, 26).*fn1
In their brief in opposition, Plaintiffs concede that an action directly against the Commonwealth is barred by the Eleventh Amendment. (Doc. No. 26 at 12.) Therefore, the Court will grant Defendants' motion to dismiss the Commonwealth without further analysis. However, the Court must still address whether Defendant Beard is entitled to immunity in either his official or individual capacity. The Court finds that Defendant Beard is not entitled to immunity in his official capacity and that further briefing is required as to whether he should be afforded qualified immunity. Therefore, the Court will deny Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings as to Plaintiffs' claims against Defendant Beard, but grant Defendants' motion as to the remaining claims.
On August 8, 2008, this case was brought by Plaintiffs against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's Department of Corrections ("the Commonwealth") and Secretary of Corrections Jeffrey A. Beard, Ph.D ("Defendant Beard"). Plaintiffs filed a collective action to enforce the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., against the Commonwealth and against Defendant Beard in his official and personal capacities. (Doc. No. 1.) Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that they were or are employed by the Commonwealth's Department of Corrections in the job classification of Corrections Officers 3 ("CO3s"). (Id. ¶ 36.) Plaintiffs contend that they should be classified as "non-exempt" for FLSA overtime purposes and are entitled to cash compensation for hours worked in overtime. (Id. ¶ 50.)
Defendant Beard answered the Complaint on November 14, 2008, asserting various affirmative defenses, including the defense that he is immune from suit pursuant to the Eleventh Amendment and the doctrine of qualified immunity. (Doc. No. 11.)
Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(c), or in the alternative, seek summary judgment under Rule 56(b). Rule 12(d) provides that, in the event the Court considers evidence outside of the pleadings, a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) or Rule 12(c) must be treated as one under Rule 56. Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 12(d). The parties have been given reasonable time to present material pertinent to the motion, which the Court has reviewed. Therefore, the motion will be considered under a summary judgment standard.
Rule 56 provides that summary judgment should be granted when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Norfolk S. Ry. Co. v. Basell USA, Inc., 512 F.3d 86, 91 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56). In making its determination, the Court must view the facts "in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Id.
Additionally, the Court notes that the Supreme Court has directed that issues of qualified immunity should be resolved as early in litigation as possible. See Pearson v. Callahan, -- U.S. --, 129 S.Ct. 808, 815 (2009) (noting that the Supreme Court has "made clear that the driving force behind creation of the qualified immunity doctrine was a desire to ensure that insubstantial claims against government officials will be resolved prior to discovery") (internal citations and alterations omitted).
Plaintiffs seek declaratory relief against Defendant Beard, who is sued both in his official capacity as the Commonwealth's Secretary for Corrections and in his individual capacity. Defendant Beard argues that he is entitled to immunity in his official capacity under the Eleventh Amendment and to qualified ...