United States District Court, D. Connecticut
MEHDI BELGADA, HORMOZ AKHUNDZADEH, and ADANIEL DZIEKAN, individually and on behalf of all other similarly situated individuals, Plaintiffs,
HY'S LIVERY SERVICE, INC., ROBERT LEVINE, MATTHEW LEVINE, and SHELLEY LEVINE, Defendants.
RULING AND ORDER ON MOTION FOR VOLUNTARY DISMISSAL
AND CROSS-MOTION FOR ATTORNEY'S FEES
A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
January 18, 2019, Mehdi Belgada, Hormoz Akhundzadeh, and
Adaniel Dziekan (“Plaintiffs”) moved to
voluntarily dismiss their Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”) claims against Hy's Livery Service,
Inc., Robert Levine, Matthew Levine, and Shelley Levine
(“Defendants”) with prejudice. Plaintiffs'
Motion for Voluntary Dismissal, dated Jan. 18, 2019
(“Pls.' Mot.”), ECF No. 108. Plaintiffs also
moved for the Court to dismiss the remaining state law claims
against Defendants without prejudice, for want of
jurisdiction, if the FLSA claims are dismissed. Id.
January 23, 2019, Defendants opposed the motion and
cross-moved for attorney's fees. Defendants'
Memorandum in Opposition to Pls.' Mot. and Cross-Motion
For Attorney's Fees, dated Jan. 23, 2019
(“Defs.' Opp.), ECF Nos. 111-12.
reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS the
motion for voluntary dismissal and DISMISSES
with prejudice Plaintiffs' FLSA claims,
DISMISSES without prejudice the remaining
state law claims for want of jurisdiction, and
DENIES the motion for attorney's fees.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
January 31, 2018, Mr. Belgada, Mr. Akhundzadeh, and Mr.
Dziekan, currently or formerly employed by Defendants, sued
Defendants, alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards
Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., and the
Connecticut Minimum Wage Act (“CMWA”), Conn. Gen.
Stat. § 31-58 et seq. Complaint, dated Jan. 31,
2018 (“Compl.”), ECF No. 1. Plaintiffs alleged,
inter alia, that Defendants required them to work
through their meal breaks but nevertheless deducted this time
from their wages. Id. ¶¶ 28-33. Plaintiffs
allege that this practice resulted in unpaid overtime wages
under the FLSA and the CMWA. Id. ¶¶ 35-36,
April 13, 2018, Defendants answered the Complaint, alleging
multiple affirmative defenses, including (1) that Plaintiffs
are “workers exempt from coverage of the Fair Labor
Standards Act”; and (2) that their claims “are
barred or should be reduced, in whole or in part, by
exclusions, exceptions, credits, recoupment or offsets
permissible under the FLSA or CWA.” Answer, dated Apr.
13, 2018, ECF No. 25, at 7.
parties subsequently embarked on several contentious months
of discovery for which they sought the Court's
intervention. See, e.g., ECF Nos. 46-49, 53-54, 56,
59-66. Discovery was originally scheduled to close on
December 21, 2018. Scheduling Order, dated Apr. 27, 2018, ECF
October 15, 2018, Plaintiffs moved for conditional
certification of an opt-in collective action under 29 U.S.C.
§ 216(b). Motion for Conditional Certification, dated
Oct. 15, 2018, ECF No. 66. On November 5, 2018, Defendants
opposed conditional certification. Memorandum in Opposition
to Motion for Conditional Certification, dated Nov. 5, 2018,
ECF No. 70.
November 6, 2018, the Court scheduled a hearing on the motion
for conditional certification. Notice of E-Filed Calendar,
dated Nov. 6, 2018, ECF No. 71.
November 15, 2018, Plaintiffs moved for class certification
under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure with
respect to their Connecticut Minimum Wage Act claims. Motion
to Certify Class, dated Nov. 15, 2018, ECF No. 73.
November 27, 2018, Defendants moved for summary judgment,
Motion for Summary Judgment, dated Nov. 27, 2018 (“Mot.
Summ. J.”), ECF No. 78, and raised a threshold legal
issue with respect to Plaintiffs' federal claims.
Defendants' Memorandum in Support of Mot. Summ. J., dated
Nov. 27, 2018 (“Defs.' Summ. J. Mem.”), ECF
No. 80, at 6-7.
Defendants sought summary judgment on Plaintiffs' federal
claims, regardless of any further discovery, because of the
Second Circuit's recent decision, Munoz-Gonzalez v.
D.L.C. Limousine Serv., 904 F.3d 208 (2d Cir. 2018),
suggesting that Defendants operate a “taxicab”
business exempt from overtime claims under the FLSA. See
Munoz-Gonzalez, 904 F.3d at 214 (holding, as a matter of
first impression, that the plain meaning of
“taxicab” in 29 U.S.C. § 213(b)(17) is
“(1) a chauffeured passenger vehicle; (2) available for
hire by individual members of the general public; (3) that
has no fixed schedule, fixed route, or fixed
termini.”); Defs.' Summ. J. Mem. at 6
(“Defendants are under no obligation to pay Plaintiffs
overtime because they are exempt pursuant to 29 U.S.C. §
213(b)(17) . . . . just as in Munoz-Gonzalez, the
Hy's vehicles have no fixed schedule, route, or termini.
Accordingly, the taxicab exemption applies to
December 6, 2018, Defendants opposed Rule 23 class
certification. Memorandum in Opposition to Motion to Certify
Class, dated Dec. 6, 2018, ECF No. 88.
December 11, 2018, the Court held a telephonic status
conference to address several then-pending discovery
disputes, as well as the timing of the Court's
consideration of the outstanding motions. Minute Entry, dated
Dec. 11, 2018, ECF No. 91.
December 14, 2018, consistent with its inherent authority to
manage its docket with a view toward the efficient and
expedient resolution of cases, the Court limited further
discovery to the taxicab exemption issue and whether the
Second Circuit's decision in Munoz-Gonzalez
applied to Plaintiffs' claims. Ruling and Order on
Discovery Disputes and Pre-Trial Schedule, dated Dec. 14,
2018, ECF No. 92, at 3-5. The Court also decided to address
the motion for summary judgment as to the FLSA claims, and
set a hearing on the motion for February 11, 2019.
Id. at 5.
Court's Order noted that, if it granted summary judgment
to Defendants on Plaintiffs' federal clams, “then
the remaining state law claims may no longer be appropriate
for this Court's review.” Id. at 3 (citing
28 U.S.C. § 1368(c) (“The district courts may
decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over a claim
under subsection (a) [claims that form part of the same case
or controversy as the claims within the court's original
jurisdiction] if . . . (3) the district court has dismissed
all claims over which it has original jurisdiction.”);
Catzin v. Thank You & Good Luck Corp., 899 F.3d
77, 83 (2d Cir. 2018) (“Under this prong, in a great
many cases, the evaluation will usually result in the
dismissal of the state-law claims.”) (citing
Carnegie-Mellon Univ. v. Cohill, 484 U.S. 343, 350
January 8, 2019, Defendants moved for a discovery conference
as to the scope of a planned Rule 30(b)(6) deposition
scheduled on January 11, 2018, as Plaintiffs disputed whether
the scope was limited to the taxicab exemption issue. Motion
for Discovery Conference, dated Jan. 8, 2019, ECF No. 99.
January 10, 2019, the Court held that discovery conference,
and clarified that discovery was indeed limited to the
taxicab exemption issue under the terms of the Court's
December 14, 2018 Order. Minute Entry, dated Jan. 10, 2019,
ECF No. 102.
that day, Plaintiffs moved to extend the briefing schedule
for their response to Defendants' summary judgment
motion. Motion for Briefing Schedule, dated Jan. 10, 2019,
ECF No. 104.
January 11, 2019, Defendants opposed that motion. Memorandum
in Opposition, ...