Friday, November 8, 2013

3d Cir. on FLSA Collective Action Appellate Procedure - COTW #167

I know, I know - FLSA collective action appellate procedure is probably not the most exciting topic in the world. But when the Third Circuit issues a precedential opinion on the topic, I feel an obligation to give it some time here at Lawffice Space.

In Camesi v. UPMC (opinion here), the Third Circuit addressed an appeal after "manufactured finality." Plaintiffs filed FLSA actions contending their employers failed to pay them for work performed during meal breaks. The FLSA allows collective actions, but in these cases (did I mention the appeal involved consolidated cases?) the district court decertified the classes and dismissed the opt-in plaintiffs.

The named plaintiffs wanted the Third Circuit to review the decertification decisions, but there was a problem. Generally, parties cannot appeal to the Third Circuit until the lower court renders a final decision. Decertification is generally not a final decision because the named plaintiffs continue to have live claims. So, what do the plaintiffs in these FLSA claims do? They voluntarily dismiss their claims with prejudice to "manufacture finality."

Now that all the claims are gone, can the plaintiffs appeal the decertification decisions to the Third Circuit? Nope. The Third Circuit held:
In sum, the District Courts’ orders decertifying the collective actions were interlocutory. Appellants were not entitled to appeal these orders directly under § 1291. Nor can Appellants avoid the strong presumption against interlocutory review of such orders by voluntarily dismissing all of their claims under Rule 41. Thus, these appeals must be dismissed for lack of appellate jurisdiction.
The appeals were dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.