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Hall v. Plastipak Holdings, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

February 8, 2017

ROBERT HALL, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
PLASTIPAK HOLDINGS, INC., et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION

          ROBERT H. CLELAND UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the court is Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration of this court's prior order granting conditional class certification and setting deadlines. (Dkt. #47.) Plaintiffs have filed a response to the motion. (Dkt. #47.) After reviewing the briefs, the court concludes that a hearing is unnecessary. See E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(f)(2). For the following reasons, the court will deny Defendants' motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The underlying facts of this case were recited in this court's prior opinion and order granting conditional certification of a class of Defendants' employees, familiarity with which is presumed. (Dkt. #46.) Defendants filed the instant motion for reconsideration arguing that the class definition is too broad because the challenged pay practices did not apply to hourly employees and also because the named Plaintiffs all worked at a single facility and thus are not representative of class members who work at other facilities. Defendants also argue that the task of identifying the class members will be unduly burdensome in light of defects in their claims. In response, Plaintiffs argue that Defendants failed to raise the distinction between hourly and salaried non-exempt employees in the first instance and have thus waived this argument on a motion for reconsideration, that the admitted uniformity of pay practices across facilities renders irrelevant the fact that named Plaintiffs all worked at a common location, and that no serious undue burden would result from Defendants being forced to comply with the court's order.

         This court's previous order required Defendants to identify class members to Plaintiffs by January 13, 2017. At a status conference held on January 17, 2017, the parties indicated that Defendants had not complied with this deadline. The court has not since received any indication that Defendants have so far fulfilled their obligation under the prior order. Plaintiffs have requested a status conference to resolve this outstanding issue.

         II. STANDARD

         Subject to the court's discretion, a motion for reconsideration shall be granted only if the movant “demonstrate[s] a palpable defect by which the court and the parties . . . have been misled” and “show[s] that correcting the defect will result in a different disposition of the case.” E.D. Mich. L.R. 7.1(h)(3). “A ‘palpable defect' is ‘a defect that is obvious, clear, unmistakable, manifest or plain.'” Buchanan v. Metz, 6 F.Supp.3d 730, 752 (E.D. Mich. 2014) (quoting United States v. Lockett, 328 F.Supp.2d 682, 684 (E.D. Mich. 2004)). The court “will not grant motions for . . . reconsideration that merely present the same issues ruled upon by the court.” E.D. Mich. L.R. 7.1(h)(3).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Hourly Employees

         Defendants point out that the practices at issue in this case, which applied to salaried non-exempt employees, did not apply to hourly employees. Thus, they are not similarly situated. This account is supported by the “Associate Handbook” which shows that hourly employees were paid normal overtime instead of the floating rate which is the subject of the instant suit. (Dkt. #47-5, Pg. ID 923.) Defendants also point to language in the court's prior opinion which incorrectly stated that Defendants had admitted to “using the same compensation scheme across all of their hourly and salaried non-exempt employees[.]” They had admitted to using the same practices with salaried non-exempt employees.

         Plaintiffs argue that Defendants failed to articulate a reason for treating hourly and salaried non-exempt employees differently in the first instance, and that the more inclusive language is really aimed at preventing Defendant from using “semantic arguments” to redefine ex post as “hourly” employees who were truly salaried non-exempt, thus reducing the size of the class. During the status conference, Plaintiffs suggested that they would stipulate that the definition of the class truly covers only those employees that were subject to the pay practices at issue in this case-specifically the re-calculation of base pay rate based on total hours worked.

         It appears that all parties are essentially in agreement that employees who were truly hourly were not subject to the pay practices at issue in this case and indeed not proper plaintiffs under the facts alleged. Rather than fruitlessly analyze which arguments have been waived and whether the court's statements about Defendants' admissions constitute a “palpable defect, ” the court will now simply clarify its prior order's class definition consistent with the view that it covers only those employees who were subject to the pay practices at issue in this case, normally called “salaried non-exempt.” This clarification supplies Defendants with the relief that they requested and thus renders moot their motion for reconsideration on this question. The court will therefore deny the motion on the basis of mootness.

         B. Facilities

         Defendants rely on Syrja v. Westat, Inc., for their argument that, because the named Plaintiffs all are from the Westland Facility, they are not similarly situated to class members in other facilities. 756 F.Supp.2d 682, 687 (D. Md. 2010). However, even setting aside the fact that this case represents merely persuasive rather than binding authority, its pertinent facts are critically distinguishable from those at issue here. ...


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