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Lynn v. Jefferson Health System

September 14, 2010

KENNETH LYNN, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
JEFFERSON HEALTH SYSTEM, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rufe, J.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand,*fn1 which argues that Plaintiffs' state law claims in the above-captioned matter are neither preempted by the Employee Retirement Security Act ("ERISA")*fn2 nor preempted by the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"),*fn3 as Defendants*fn4 assert, and that the Court must therefore remand the case to the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County for lack of federal subject matter jurisdiction. This Motion has been fully briefed, oral argument was heard thereon, and it is now ripe for disposition.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

This cause of action arises out of Defendants' alleged failure to compensate hourly employees, including nurses and other patient care professionals, for all hours worked. The procedural background of this matter is integral to the Court's consideration of the instant motion. The Court adopts verbatim the preliminary factual and procedural summary submitted by all parties in the May 4, 2010 Joint Report,*fn5 which states in relevant part:

A. The Initial Federal Action

In November 2009, seven separate actions were filed in this Court against seven separate groups of defendants.*fn6

In each of these actions, the individual plaintiffs . . . asserted causes of action: (1) for alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq .; (2) for alleged violations of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1001, et seq .; and (3) for alleged violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1961, et seq . The alleged factual predicate underlying these claims is that the plaintiffs were not properly paid by their alleged employers for all time that they allegedly worked.

With respect to the ERISA claims asserted, the plaintiffs in each Initial Federal Action alleged a failure to keep accurate records sufficient to determine benefits, in alleged violation of ERISA's recordkeeping provision, 29 U.S.C. § 1059(a)(1). Plaintiffs in each Initial Federal Action also alleged an ERISA breach of fiduciary duty claim under 29 U.S.C. § 1104(a)(1).

B. The Removed Actions

Very shortly after filing the Initial Federal Actions, the same individual plaintiffs filed seven separate actions in the Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County, against largely the same seven separate groups of defendants named in the Initial Federal Actions. During December 2009, defendants in six of these actions removed these state court actions to this Court.*fn7

In each of the Removed Actions, the plaintiffs asserted numerous causes of action, including claims arising under the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law, 43 P.S. § 260.1 et seq., and the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act, 43 P.S. [§] 333.101 et seq., as well as twelve other claims arising under Pennsylvania common law, including breach of contract claims, quasi-contractual claims, tort claims, and certain other claims. As with the Initial Federal Actions, the alleged factual predicate underlying the claims in each of the six Removed Actions is that the plaintiffs were not properly paid by their alleged employers for all time that they allegedly worked.

The removal in every one of the six Removed Actions was based, at least in part, on the assertion that certain of the asserted claims fell within the scope of Section 502(a)(1) of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1), which provides the civil enforcement mechanism under ERISA. In three of the seven oppositions filed in response to plaintiffs' remand motions (in the Abington opposition, the Aria opposition and the Jefferson opposition) the defendants also relied upon the express preemption provisions of ERISA Section 514(a), 29 U.S.C. § 1144(a).

The removal in three of the Removed Actions (the Einstein, Jefferson and Mercy cases) is based not only on ERISA preemption, but also on the contention that plaintiffs' claims are based on and/or require interpretation of a CBA and, therefore, are completely preempted and removable under Section 301 of the LMRA, 29 U.S.C. § 185."*fn8 Defendants removed the present matter-referred to in the Joint Report as the Jefferson case-to this Court based on ERISA preemption under § 502(a) (or, alternatively, § 514) and LMRA preemption under § 301. Plaintiffs filed this Motion to Remand on January 18, 2010, asserting that, because their state claims are not preempted by those federal statutory schemes, removal was improper. Plaintiff filed concurrent motions to remand in the other Removed Cases. After these motions were fully briefed, the Court ordered the parties to meet and confer to present a joint report on the ...


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