Cases & Deals

Alderwoods defeats class certification in collective action brought under FLSA in Pennsylvania

Client(s) Alderwoods Group, Inc.

On September 9, 2011, Judge Joy Flowers Conti granted Alderwoods Group, Inc.'s motion to decertify a collective action brought under Section 216(b) of the Fair Labor Standards Act in Prise, et al. v. Alderwoods Group, Inc. Plaintiffs Deborah Prise and Heather Rady sought certification of a nationwide collective action alleging that Alderwoods systematically failed to pay funeral services employees for work performed while off the clock, including on-call work, unapproved overtime, training time, and community service. Pursuant to the two-phase collective action procedure adopted by most federal courts, Judge Conti conditionally certified the case at the outset of the suit, and more than 700 current and former employees joined the case. After discovery was completed, Alderwoods moved to decertify the action on the grounds that Plaintiffs could not meet the three-factor test for final certification articulated in Lusardi v. Xerox Corp., 118 F.R.D. 351, 370-75 (D.N.J. 1987). The Court agreed, finding that Plaintiffs could not meet their burden to prove "the existence of a single decision, policy or plan implemented on a corporate-wide basis that similarly affected plaintiffs."

Judge Conti's decision in Prise follows on the heels of two recent decisions by Judge Susan Illston of the Northern District of California in Helm, et al. v. Alderwoods Group, Inc., et al., No. 3:08-CV-01184 SI (N.D. Cal.) denying certification off-the-clock claims brought under state laws. In December 2009, Judge Illston denied certification of nationwide off-the-clock classes, and in March 2011 she refused to certify more narrow nationwide and California-only classes.

Prise, et al. v. Alderwoods Group, Inc. et al., Case No. 2:06-CV-1641 (W.D. Penn.); 2011 WL 4101145 (2011)