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Capital City Lodge No. 12 Fraternal Order of Police v. City of Harrisburg

February 23, 2011

CAPITAL CITY LODGE NO. 12 FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE,
DETECTIVE HECTOR BAEZ, OFFICER JENNIE JENKINS, AND DETECTIVE ELIJAH MASSEY,
PLAINTIFFS
v.
CITY OF HARRISBURG, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Rambo

MEMORANDUM

Before the court is Defendant City of Harrisburg's motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(7) for failure to join a party under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19. (Doc. 4.) Because the court concludes that the party sought for joinder is not a necessary party to this action, the motion will be denied.

I. Background

Plaintiff, Capital City Lodge No. 12 of the Fraternal Order of Police filed the instant action on behalf of Plaintiffs Detective Hector Baez, Officer Jennie Jenkins, and Detective Elija Massey alleging that the Defendant, the City of Harrisburg ("the City"), violated the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") when it withheld the paychecks for the named Plaintiffs for hours worked between November 7, 2010, and November 21, 2010. (Doc. 1, ¶ 10.) The complaint demands the following relief: 1) payment of regular wages to Plaintiff officers; 2) payment of liquidated damages pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) of the FLSA; 3) payment of reasonable attorneys fees pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216; and 4) that if the alleged violations are found to be the result of a willful act of a person or persons, that the person or persons be subject to a fine of not more than $10,000 and a term imprisonment of not more than six months. (Id.)

The City filed the instant motion requesting that the court either join the City Controller as a defendant in this action, or, if the court determines that joinder is unfeasible, dismiss Plaintiffs' complaint with prejudice. The background of this action is as follows.*fn1

Beginning in 2010, Plaintiff Jenkins received payroll checks even though no city budget allocation existed to support her wages. (Doc. 7, Def.'s Br. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss at 4.) The error was discovered by the Interim Business Administrator, Robert Kroboth. (Id.) To correct the error, Mr. Kroboth submitted a reallocation resolution to City Counsel to refund the Office of the Chief of Police for wages paid to Plaintiff Jenkins. (Id.) City Counsel rejected that reallocation. (Id.) Thereafter, Plaintiff Jenkins was transferred to a fully funded, vacant position within the Division of Policy Bureau. (Id. at 4-5.) On November 24, 2010, payroll checks, including checks for Plaintiffs, were forwarded to the Controller's office for his signature. City Controller Daniel C. Miller refused to sign the payroll checks. (Id. at 5.) In a memorandum to City Counsel dated November 22, 2010, Mr. Miller indicated that the transfer of Plaintiff Jenkins to the Division of Policy Bureau was improper and contrary to City Counsel's decision not to reallocate funds. (Doc. 4, Ex. C.) As a result, Mr. Miller refused to sign Plaintiffs' payroll checks. (Id. at ¶ 8.)

In response, Mr. Kroboth sent Mr. Miller an email dated November 24, 2010, explaining that the failure to pay Plaintiff officers was a violation of the FLSA. (Id. at Ex. D.) Plaintiffs filed this action against the City shortly thereafter. Plaintiffs were subsequently paid past and current wages on the next pay date. (Doc. 7 at 6.)

The City seeks to join the City Controller as a party to this suit pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19(a)(1)(A). Defendant argues that "the Controller is necessary to provide complete relief depending on the outcome of the case particularly because of the unique powers and authorities he maintains in the City's government." (Doc. 7, Def.'s Br. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss at 9.) Defendant reasons that because the Controller has already resisted attempts by other City officials to encourage FLSA compliance, there is nothing to stop the Controller from refusing the pay the Plaintiff officers, absent a court order specifically directing him to do so. (Id. at 10.) Defendant further asserts that the City Controller has the duty "to assure that no payments of public funds are made without appropriate budgetary allocations and funding" and that "no other public official shares this obligation." (Id.) In the City's view, the allegations that the City violated the FLSA arise from acts committed solely by the Controller in his capacity as Controller. (Id.)

Plaintiffs' oppose the motion, arguing that the City Controller is not a separate and distinct entity from the City of Harrisburg. (Doc. 5, Pl.'s Response to Def.'s Motion to Dismiss at 3.) Rather, Plaintiffs assert that the City Controller is a city official and therefore "part of the body of politic which makes up the City of Harrisburg as the 'employer' contemplated by the [FLSA]." (Id. at 5.) The court agrees and will deny the motion for the following reasons.

II. Standard

A defendant may move to dismiss a complaint for failure to join a party under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(7). Rule 19(a)(1)(A) states:

(a) Persons Required to Be Joined if Feasible.

(1) Required Party. A person who is subject to service of process and whose joinder will not deprive the court of subject-matter ...


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