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COA upholds dismissal of proposed class

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Potential plaintiffs who want to join a class action suit seeking redress under the state's Wage Claims Statute must first submit a claim to the Indiana Department of Labor, the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld today.

The ruling comes seven months after another appellate panel ruled in Lemon v. Wishard Health Services, 902 N.E.2d, 297 (Ind. Ct. App. 2009), that anyone who wants to file a lawsuit in court or join a class action suit under the Wage Claims Statute has to first submit their claim to the DOL. In upholding that decision, the Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of the proposed class of plaintiffs who haven't sought review and referral from the DOL in Maureen Reel, Thomas Dullen, and Ned Milby, on Behalf of Themselves and All Others Similarly Situated v. Clarian Health Partners Inc., No. 49A02-0901-CV-112.

Maureen Reel, Thomas Dullen, and Ned Milby filed their complaints under the Wage Claims Statute against Clarian Health Partners on behalf of themselves and all others who were paid their paid time off (PTO) wages on or after July 11, 2003. Their suit claimed Clarian paid out the PTO after the pay date for the pay period in which they were involuntarily separated, which would violate the Wage Claims Statute.

Clarian was initially granted summary judgment on the claims, but the appellate court reversed with respect to Reel, Dullen, and Milby. Those three had initially submitted their claim to the DOL.

The trial court did grant summary judgment to Clarian in a separate ruling in regards to the class claims. The named plaintiffs argued on appeal that despite the ruling in Lemon, in which transfer was pending at the time they filed their brief, but was denied by the time Clarian filed its brief, the members of the proposed class action weren't required to file their wage claims with the DOL in order to join the suit.

Under the Wage Claims Statute, the wage claims must first be submitted to the DOL, which may then refer the claims to the attorney general, who may initiate civil actions or refer the claim to an attorney. To become the "designee" of the attorney general, the claimant must first obtain a letter of referral before filing suit, wrote Judge Nancy Vaidik.

The Court of Appeals also affirmed the trial court didn't abuse its discretion in sequencing the discovery to avoid extensive and costly discovery until it ruled on the motion to dismiss.

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  1. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

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  3. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  4. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

  5. From the article's fourth paragraph: "Her work underscores the blurry lines in Russia between the government and businesses . . ." Obviously, the author of this piece doesn't pay much attention to the "blurry lines" between government and businesses that exist in the United States. And I'm not talking only about Trump's alleged conflicts of interest. When lobbyists for major industries (pharmaceutical, petroleum, insurance, etc) have greater access to this country's elected representatives than do everyday individuals (i.e., voters), then I would say that the lines between government and business in the United States are just as blurry, if not more so, than in Russia.

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