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Collette Davis, et al v. Abington Memorial Hospital

August 7, 2012

COLLETTE DAVIS, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ABINGTON MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, ET AL., DEFENDANTS. SUSAN FRATTAROLA, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
MERCY HEALTH SYSTEM OF SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA, ET AL., DEFENDANTS. KENNETH LYNN, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ARIA HEALTH SYSTEM, ET AL., DEFENDANTS. KENNETH LYNN, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
JEFFERSON HEALTH SYSTEM, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS. CASSANDRA RUFF, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ALBERT EINSTEIN HEALTHCARE NETWORK, ET AL., DEFENDANTS. JOHN DUNCHESKIE, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
TEMPLE UNIVERSITY HEALTH SYSTEM, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION

In these six related putative collective and class actions, Plaintiffs allege that their employers, various medical centers and their affiliates, violated the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), *fn1 and various state laws by failing to pay them for all hours they worked. By Opinion and Order dated September 8, 2011, this Court dismissed the Amended Complaint in each case, but granted Plaintiffs leave to file amended complaints consistent with the Opinion. *fn2 Plaintiffs did so, filing a Third Amended Complaint in each case. Defendants have again moved to dismiss these complaints. For the reasons that follow the Motions will be granted. *fn3

I. B ACKGROUND

A. P ROCEDURAL B ACKGROUND

In November 2009, Plaintiffs filed parallel complaints in each of these six cases against six sets of Defendants, each representing a network of health-care providers: "Mercy Health Defendants" *fn4 ; "Abington Memorial Health Defendants" *fn5 ; "Aria Health Defendants" *fn6 ; "Jefferson Health Defendants" *fn7 ; "Albert Einstein Healthcare Network Defendants" *fn8 ; "Temple University Health Center Defendants." *fn9 The initial federal complaints contained only federal claims. At the same time these federal civil actions were filed, Plaintiffs filed six related actions in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas; these state complaints contained solely state-law claims. While maintained as separate actions, the allegations in the state and federal complaints were essentially identical.

In December 2009, Defendants removed the state court actions to this Court (the "Removed Actions"), *fn10 asserting that the state-law claims fell within the scope of Section 502(a)(1) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"). *fn11 In three of the Removed actions, Defendants also asserted that Plaintiffs' Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law ("WPCL") *fn12 and breach of contract claims were preempted by, and removable under, Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"). *fn13 Plaintiffs moved to remand the Removed Actions. The Court denied Plaintiffs' motions, holding that ERISA preempted the state-law claims in their entirety, and that, in the three cases in which Defendants raised the issue, *fn14 Section 301 of LMRA preempted the WPCL and breach-of-contract claims. *fn15
At the same time it denied Plaintiffs' Motions to Remand, the Court ordered that the Removed Actions be consolidated with the pending federal actions, directed that Plaintiffs file a consolidated complaint in each federal action incorporating both state and federal claims, and closed the Removed Actions. *fn16 On October 15, 2010, Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint in each case. Again, Plaintiffs averred that Defendants denied them premium pay and overtime in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), *fn17 that Defendants failed to keep accurate records of hours worked by their employees and breached their fiduciary duties in violation of ERISA, and that in doing so, Defendants violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"). *fn18 Despite the Court's findings regarding the preemptive effect of ERISA and the LMRA in its Opinion on the Motion to Remand, Plaintiffs reasserted all state-law claims.

Defendants responded by jointly moving to dismiss the Amended Complaints. By Opinion and Order dated September 8, 2011, the Court granted the motions, holding that the allegations were an "aggregation of conclusory statements and general allegations." *fn19

Specifically, the Court held that the Amended Complaints lacked factual support for the conclusory assertions that all Defendants were Plaintiffs' employers, and that, in failing to establish this employer-employee relationship, Plaintiffs had not stated a claim under the FLSA. The Court further held that Plaintiffs' failure in this regard also defeated their ERISA claims.

The Court dismissed the RICO claims because Plaintiffs failed to adequately allege the predicate act of mail fraud, and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state-law claims. The Court granted Plaintiffs leave to amend.

After being granted an extension of time in which to file, Plaintiffs filed a Second Amended Complaint in each case. The Parties thereafter stipulated to the filing of Third Amended Complaints and to a joint briefing schedule. Plaintiffs filed their Third Amended Complaints on February 10, 2012. *fn20 Defendants then filed the Motions to Dismiss now before the Court. Defendants submitted one joint brief in support of their motions, which addresses the issues common to all Defendants. *fn21 Additionally, Defendants in two cases filed individual motions to address issues unique to their cases. *fn22 For purposes of the joint motion, the Parties rely upon and refer to the Third Amended Complaint in Frattarola, et al. v. Mercy Health System of Southeastern Pennsylvania, et al., Civ. A. No. 09-5533, as representative of all the Third Amended Complaints filed in these actions. *fn23 The Court will do so as well.

B. F ACTUAL B ACKGROUND

Plaintiffs Susan Frattarola, Cassandra Ruff, and Pamela Kimble-Armstrong worked as Registered Nurses ("RNs") at Defendant Mercy Philadelphia Hospital; Ms. Frattarola was employed at Mercy Philadelphia Hospital from May 2007 to July 2009, Ms. Ruff from October 2008 to October 2009, and Ms. Kimble-Armstrong from December 2004 to November 2008. *fn24

Plaintiff Anna May Lampart was employed as a Licensed Practical Nurse ("LPN") at Mercy Health System's Gray's Ferry Life Center ("Gray's") from August 2007 to September 2009. *fn25

Plaintiffs allege that Defendant Mercy Health System of Southeastern Pennsylvania controls Defendants Mercy Catholic Medical Center of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital, Mercy Philadelphia Hospital, Mercy Suburban Hospital, Nazareth Hospital, St. Agnes Continuing Care Center, and various other "Health Care Facilities." *fn26

Plaintiffs contend that Defendants maintained three illegal work and pay policies: (1) the "Meal Break Deduction Policy," pursuant to which Defendants automatically took a daily half-hour deduction from Plaintiffs' paychecks for a meal break, even though Plaintiffs often had to work through those breaks; *fn27 (2) the "Unpaid Pre- and Post- Schedule Work Policy," pursuant to which Defendants did not pay Plaintiffs for work performed before and after their shifts; *fn28 and (3) the ...


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