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Ronald Deeley v. Genesis Healthcare

July 28, 2011

RONALD DEELEY
v.
GENESIS HEALTHCARE
CORPORATION AND
JENNIFER VALINOTTI



The opinion of the court was delivered by: O'neill, J.

MEMORANDUM

Plaintiff Ronald Deeley was employed as a nursing supervisor at defendant Genesis Healthcare Corporation's Hopkins Center.*fn1 On March 22, 2010, plaintiff filed a putative collective action complaint alleging retaliation in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act*fn2 and violation of the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law. Plaintiff's factual allegations were limited to events occurring at the Hopkins Center. On May 27, 2010, defendants moved to dismiss plaintiff's complaint. Plaintiff did not respond to the motion to dismiss, and instead filed a first amended complaint on June 11, 2010. I denied defendants' motion to dismiss as moot on June 15, 2010 and on June 18, 2010, defendants filed a motion to dismiss plaintiff's first amended complaint.

Plaintiff thereafter filed a second amended complaint without obtaining defendants' consent or leave of court. The second amended complaint substituted claims for unpaid overtime wages under the FLSA and the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act for plaintiff's previously asserted FLSA and PWPCL retaliation claims. Plaintiff's factual allegations remained limited to events occurring at the Hopkins Center. On July 19, 2010, defendants filed a motion to strike plaintiff's second amended complaint, asserting that plaintiff failed to comply with the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a). On July 22, 2010, plaintiff retroactively sought leave to amend his complaint. On August 16, 2010, I granted plaintiff leave to file his second amended complaint. See Deeley v. Genesis Healthcare Corp., No. 10-1242, 2010 WL 3239352 (Aug. 16, 2010). Defendants answered plaintiff's second amended complaint on August 30, 2010.

On October 27, 2010, plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file a third amended complaint in which he sought to assert an individual claim for retaliation under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Again, plaintiff's factual allegations were limited to events occurring at the Hopkins Center. I granted plaintiff leave to file his third amended complaint on March 25, 2011.*fn3 Deeley v.Genesis Healthcare Corp., No. 10-1242, 2011 WL 1162204 (Mar. 25, 2011). Defendants answered plaintiff's third amended complaint on April 11, 2001. Thereafter, plaintiff served defendants with notice of a Rule 30(b)(6) deposition seeking, inter alia, data and information related to all locations affiliated with Genesis HealthCare LLC. Defendants refused to produce a witness to testify regarding the broad information sought by plaintiff, asserting that the allegations in the third amended complaint were based only on events transpiring at the Hopkins Center, including the actions of individual defendant Jennifer Valinotti, who was an administrator at the Hopkins Center during plaintiff's employment at the Hopkins Center. Defs.' Br. Ex. A.

Plaintiff now seeks leave to file a fourth amended complaint and to dismiss his claims against Valinotti. In his proposed fourth amended complaint, Deeley seeks to expand the scope of his collective action by redefining the corporate defendant to specifically include 236 separate facilities allegedly operated by Genesis. Pl.'s Br. at 6-7; id. Ex. A, ¶ 2. Plaintiff asserts that he has "learned that Genesis Healthcare's violations were not limited to the Hopkins Center," that "culpable conduct was incorrectly placed on Defendant Jennifer Valinotti," and that "[b]y dismissing [Valinotti, he] will be permitted to expand the scope of the class certification to include other facilities within Defendant Genesis Healthcare's control." Id. at 7. However, neither plaintiff's brief nor his proposed fourth amended complaint specifically identify facts plaintiff has learned to show that Genesis's alleged violations extended to its other facilities or that his prior complaints incorrectly assigned blame to Valinotti.

Indeed, despite plaintiff's request to dismiss Valinotti, her actions appear to remain central to the allegations in plaintiff's proposed fourth amended complaint. He asserts that during his employment at the Hopkins Center, Valinotti, who was the Hospital Administrator, had "the ability to control wage and hour databases . . . ." Id. Ex. A, ¶ 11. He further alleges that "Hopkins Center Hospital Administration . . . altered his time entry data, specifically his overtime hours." Id. Ex. A, ¶ 12. He alleges that he "met with Jennifer Valinotti and the Director of Nursing, Kitty Levitsky, to make a verbal complaint about Jennifer Valinotti altering his time records." Id. Ex. A, ¶ 15.

In his allegations relevant to facilities other than the Hopkins Center, plaintiff asserts only that he "became aware that alterations were also perpetrated on other staff members and believes the Genesis Healthcare Corporation personnel such as Administrators were permitted to make [alterations of time entry data] to achieve budgetary goals and objectives of Defendant employer." Id. Ex. A, ¶ 12. He alleges that "[u]pon information and belief, various other members of the class have not received overtime payments that are due to them and/or have only received overtime payments upon request." Id. Ex. A, ¶ 18. He alleges that "[u]pon[ ] information and belief, Plaintiff and other[ ] similarly situated employees (including Nurses' Assistants, Registered Nurse Supervisors, Registered Nurses, Charge Nurses and Licensed Practitioner Nurses) were deprived pay for overtime work." Id. Ex. A, ¶ 19. He contends that "[e]mployees who worked in the positions are similarly situated because a shared factual nexus binds their claims for denial of overtime compensation. They are the victims of a common scheme by which Defendant employer routinely and illegally denied them wages for workweeks in which they worked more than 40 hours." Id. ¶ 23. Plaintiff alleges that defendants' conduct "constitutes a willful violation of the FLSA . . . because Defendant employer deliberately altered Plaintiff's and other similarly situated class members' overtime hours in order to meet Defendant'[s] hourly budget goals which is a practice Defendant employer enabled, tolerated, and condoned, if not encouraged, with a large annual bonus for administrators and supervisors . . . ." Id. Ex. A, ¶ 36.

In the class defined in his proposed fourth amended complaint, plaintiff "believes there are at minimum, twenty five individuals at Plaintiff's particular place of employment and potentially thousands of individuals collectively among all Defendant employer's nationwide locations. Id. Ex. A, ¶ 24. Plaintiff's proposed fourth amended complaint does not include information about the number of hours plaintiff worked without compensation and does not approximate the number of uncompensated hours worked by potential opt-in plaintiffs.

Plaintiff's proposed fourth amended complaint also includes a count under the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law. Pl.'s Br., Ex. A, Count 3. He does not explain why he did not include this claim in the earlier versions of his complaint.

For the reasons that follow, I will deny plaintiff's motion for leave to amend his complaint and will grant plaintiff's motion to dismiss his claims against Valinotti.

DISCUSSION

I. Plaintiff's Proposed Amendments

"[T]he grant or denial of an opportunity to amend is within the discretion of the District Court . . . ." Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). Rule 15 dictates "that leave to amend shall be freely given when justice so requires." Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). Rule 15 does not provide a plaintiff with "unfettered, unlimited opportunities to amend his pleading."

Assadourian v. Harb, No. 06-896, 2008 WL 4056361, at *3 (D.N.J. Aug. 28, 2008) (NO. 06-896), citing Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). Leave to amend may be denied where there is "undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party ...


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