United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, El Dorado Division
TIARA TURNER, Individually and on Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated PLAINTIFF
CONCENTRIX SERVICES US, INC. and CONCENTRIX CORPORATION DEFENDANTS
O. Hickey Chief United States District Judge.
the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff's Class and Collective Action Claims. ECF No.
9. Plaintiff has filed a response. ECF No. 11. Defendants
have filed a reply. ECF No. 15. The matter is fully briefed
and ripe for the Court's consideration.
is a former hourly paid employee of Defendants who worked as
an at-home customer service representative. On November 30,
2018, Plaintiff filed a class action complaint alleging that
Defendants violated the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”) and the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act
(“AMWA”) by failing to pay hourly paid at-home
customer service representatives for off-the-clock work
performed prior to the beginning of their scheduled shifts,
during their unpaid thirty-minute meal breaks, and after the
end of the scheduled shift. Seeking recovery of unpaid
overtime, Plaintiff brings her FLSA and AMWA claims
individually and on behalf of “[a]ll at-home customer
service representatives who worked within the past three (3)
years.” ECF No. 1, ¶¶ 79, 98.
September 19, 2016, over two years prior to the filing of
Plaintiff's complaint in this Court, Ashley Armstrong
filed a complaint in the Northern District of California,
Armstrong v. Concentrix Corporation, No.
3:16-cv-05363-WHO (the “California action”).
Armstrong filed the complaint individually and on behalf of
all current and former hourly at-home customer service
representatives from September 19, 2013, through judgment.
The complaint was filed against Concentrix Corporation, and
Armstrong alleged that Concentrix Corporation failed to pay
hourly paid at-home customer service representatives for
off-the-clock work performed prior to the beginning of
scheduled shifts, during their unpaid thirty-minute lunch
breaks, and after the end of their scheduled shifts. The
district court conditionally certified a collective of
employees that worked for Concentrix from December 14, 2015,
through judgment. A settlement was reached on all claims. On
December 6, 2018, the district court entered an order
approving the FLSA collective action settlement and
dismissing the action with prejudice.
present motion, Defendants move the Court to dismiss
Plaintiff's class and collective action claims pursuant
to the first-to-file rule. In order to conserve judicial
resources and avoid conflicting rulings, the first-to-file
rule gives priority, for purposes of choosing among possible
venues when parallel litigation has been instituted in
separate courts, to the party who first establishes
jurisdiction. Nw. Airlines, Inc. v. Am. Airlines,
Inc., 989 F.2d 1002, 1006 (8th Cir. 1993). The
first-to-file rule yields to the interests of justice and is
not applied when a court finds “compelling
circumstances” supporting its abrogation. Id.
In determining whether to apply the first-to-file rule,
courts may use their discretions. See id.
argue that the present case should be dismissed because a
similar lawsuit-the California action-is still pending.
Defendants have identified some district courts that have
applied the first-to-file rule to FLSA collective actions and
dismissed the later-filed FLSA collective action where the
later-filed lawsuit is identical or nearly identical to the
first. ECF No. 10, p. 3. Plaintiff argues in response that
the first-to-file rule does not apply when the potential
plaintiffs in the second-filed collective action are no
longer able to join the first-filed collective action. In
other words, Plaintiff contends that the first-to-file rule
is inapplicable to the present action because the California
action is no longer pending.
parties disagree as to whether the California action is still
pending. Defendants assert that the California case is
pending because the settlement has not yet been
completed. However, Plaintiff notes that the December
6, 2018 settlement order entered in the California action
stated that the case was dismissed with prejudice, and the
case was closed on the same day. Further, the order stated,
“[b]y means of this Settlement Approval Order, this
Court hereby enters final judgment in this action, as defined
by Federal Rule of [Civil] Procedure 58(a)(1).”
Armstrong v. Concentrix Corp., No.
3:16-cv-05363-WHO, ECF No. 118. Given this language, the
Court agrees with Plaintiff that the California action is no
longer pending. Consequently, there is no case other than the
present one that would allow the potential plaintiffs to opt
in. In other words, there is no longer a first-filed action.
the California action has been settled and dismissed,
Defendants are not having to defend against simultaneous
collective actions. Further, there is no risk of inconsistent
rulings because the district court in the California action
never reached the merits of the case. The conservation of
judicial resources is not a concern here given that any
potential opt-in plaintiff who did not join the California
action could file his or her own suit. In fact, judicial
efficiency demands that, if possible, these individual suits
should be consolidated. Because dismissal of the California
action has alleviated the traditional concerns addressed by
the “first-to-file” rule, the Court declines to
apply the rule to the present case. Accordingly, the Court
finds that Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's
Class and Collective Action Claims (ECF No. 9) should be and
hereby is DENIED.
IS SO ORDERED.
Defendants filed their brief in the
present action before the opt-in plaintiffs' June 27,
2019 deadline for accepting or rejecting the settlement in
the California action. That deadline has since
Nothing has been filed in the
California action since the case was ...