Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Jordan v. Mechel Bluestone, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Beckley Division

March 29, 2018

DAVID JORDAN, Plaintiff,
v.
MECHEL BLUESTONE, INC. and DYNAMIC ENERGY, INC., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          IRENE C. BERGER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The Court has reviewed the Plaintiff's Motion to Approve Class Membership and Class Notice (Document 35), the Defendants' Response to Plaintiff's Motion to Approve Class Membership and Class Notice (Document 36), and the Plaintiff's Reply to Response to Motion to Approve Class Membership and Class Notice (Document 38). The Court has also reviewed the Defendants' Motion to Seal (Document 37). Lastly, the Court has reviewed the Plaintiff's Complaint (Document 1) and all attached exhibits. For the reasons stated herein, the Court finds that the Plaintiff's motion should be granted in part and denied in part.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The Plaintiff initiated this action by filing a Complaint in this Court on May 17, 2016. The Plaintiff alleged that the Defendants, Mechel Bluestone, Inc., and Dynamic Energy, Inc., doing business at its Coal Mountain Surface Mine No. 1 in Wyoming County, West Virginia, violated the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (“WARN”) Act, 29 U.S.C. § 2101 et seq., by failing to provide the sixty-day notice to employees of a pending layoff. (Compl. at 1.) According to the complaint, Mechel Bluestone owned several coal-producing mining facilities in Wyoming County, West Virginia, and employed more than 100 employees. (Compl. at ¶ 4-5.) Mechel Bluestone specifically owned its subsidiary, Dynamic Energy, Inc. (“Dynamic”), which operated and maintained the Coal Mountain Surface Mine No. 1. (Id. at ¶ 7.)

         At the time of the allegations in the complaint, the Plaintiff had been employed in excess of eight and a half years. (Id. at ¶ 1.) On or about December 28, 2013, Todd Bradford, general mine foreman, at the time, “inform[ed] the outgoing miners, including Mr. Jordan, that they were laid off for an indefinite period of time.” (Id. at ¶ 12.) Between approximately November 30, 2013, and December 30, 2012, at least 128 full-time miners, including the Plaintiff, were laid off at the Coal Mountain Surface Mine No. 1 (Id. at ¶ 13.) “Neither the Plaintiff, nor a representative of his collective bargaining unit of the United Mine Workers of America, received written notice that the employees would be laid off prior to the occurrence of their layoffs.” (Id. at ¶ 14.) Further, the laid-off employees did not receive graduation days or holiday pay, and their medical and dental coverage was terminated. (Id. at ¶ 15-16.) According to the complaint, the Defendant Mechel Bluestone possessed de jure and de facto control over the Coal Mountain Surface Mine No. 1 site, ostensibly controlled by Dynamic.

         On June 8, 2016, the Defendants filed a motion to dismiss (Document 4). On October 21, 2016, this Court entered its Memorandum Opinion and Order (Document 11) denying the motion to dismiss. Shortly after the decision denying the motion to dismiss, the parties mediated the case before Magistrate Judge Aboulhosn. As a result of the discussions with Magistrate Judge Aboulhosn on two different occasions, the parties entered into a Mediation Agreement (Document 17) on December 5, 2016. Pursuant to the mediation agreement, the Defendants agreed to settle the WARN Act claims regarding the putative members of the class. In late December 2016, however, the parties began to disagree about aspects of the mediation agreement, including who should be included in the class. Further, the Plaintiffs alleged that the Defendants were going outside of the mediation agreement and attempting to make settlement agreements with putative class members who had not been informed of the mediation agreement entered into by the parties. In response to briefs filed by both parties, this Court held a combined pretrial conference and final settlement conference on April 19, 2017. During that hearing, the parties discussed issues concerning class certification and the side settlements entered into between the Defendants and potential class members. The Court informed the parties that it was prepared to certify the class and approve class notice, but the parties informed the Court that they still had not come to an agreement on whether certain employees of the Defendants' entities should be included in the class for purposes of settlement. The Court indicated that, if the parties could not decide who should be a part of the settlement and mediation agreement, the Court would make such a ruling after briefing on the issue was submitted.

         APPLICABLE LAW

         (A) Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23

         The certification of a class action is governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 (“Rule 23”). Rule 23(a) states that:

“one or more members of a class may sue” as “representative parties” if “(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable; (2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class; (3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class; and (4) the representative party will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a).

         More succinctly, Rule 23(a) requires a potential class plaintiff to show numerosity, common questions of law or fact, typicality, and adequacy of representation. Id. Rule 23(a) “ensures that the named plaintiffs are appropriate representatives of the class whose claims they wish to litigate, ” and limits the class to those with claims “fairly encompassed by the named plaintiff[].” Dukes v. Walmart Stores, 131 S.Ct. 2541, 2550 (2011), quoting General Telephone Co. of Southwest v. Falcon, 457 U.S. 147, 156 (1982). Rule 23(a) is not a “mere pleading standard.” Rather, the rule requires that “[a] party seeking class certification must affirmatively demonstrate his compliance, ” by being “prepared to prove that there are in fact sufficiently numerous parties, common questions of law or fact, etc.” Id. at 2551.

         A plaintiff seeking class certification must satisfy all of the requirements of Rule 23(a), as well as one of the subsections of Rule 23(b). Brown v. Nucor Corp., 576 F.3d 149, 152 (4th Cir. 2009); Thorn v. Jefferson-Pilot Life Ins. Co., 445 F.3d 311, 318 (4th Cir. 2006). Here, the Plaintiff seeks class certification under Rule 23(b)(3), which requires that the Court determine that “questions of law or fact common to class members predominate over any questions affecting only individual members, and that a class action is superior to other available methods for fairly and efficiently adjudicating the controversy.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(3). The four factors for courts to consider under Rule 23(b)(3) are:

“(A) the class members' interests in individually controlling the prosecution or defense of separate actions; (B) the extent and nature of any litigation concerning the controversy already begun by or against class members; (C) the desirability or undesirability of concentrating the litigation of the claims in the particular forum; and (D) the likely difficulties of managing a class action.” Id.

         A district court has broad discretion to decide whether to certify a class action under Rule 23, but the Plaintiff bears the burden of proof in establishing that all requirements of Rule 23 are met. Leinhart v. Dryvit Systems, Inc., 255 F.3d 138, 146 (4th Cir. 2001), citing In re American Med. Sys., Inc., 75 F.3d 1069, 1079 (6th Cir. 1996); Int'l Woodworkers of Am. V. Chesapeake Bay Plywood Corp., 659 F.2d 1259, 1267 (4th Cir. 1981). At the class certification phase, the district court must “take a close look” at the “facts relevant to the certification question, and, if necessary, make specific findings” relevant to certification. Thorn v. Jefferson-Pilot Life Insurance Co., 445 F.3d 311, 319 (4th Cir. 2006), citing Gariety v. Grant Thornton, LLP, 368 F.3d 356, 365 (4th Cir. 2004). These findings are necessary, even if “the issues tend to overlap into the merits of the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.