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Woman’s wage suit against Indiana medical supplier goes forward

November 3, 2016

A federal judge has rejected an Indiana-based medical supplier’s effort to dismiss a former employee’s lawsuit seeking enhanced damages over withheld pay.

District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana denied Batesville-based Hill-Rom Holdings Inc. motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by former information technology sales executive Janette Ostrander. Magnus-Stinson ruled Wednesday that Ostrander had sufficiently pleaded a cause of action under state law allowing liquidated damages for unpaid wages.

According to the record, Ostrander was owed $204,328.70 in March 2015 sales commissions on April 30, 2015, but she was not paid. She demanded the payment from that time until September of that year, when Hill-Rom terminated her employment. She was paid the commissions she claimed she was owed in December 2015.

Ostrander sued under I.C. 22-2-5-2, which permits an employee denied payment of wages to claim liquidated damages of twice the unpaid compensation. Ostrander is thus seeking $408,656.70, and Magnus-Stinson wrote Hill-Rom is not entitled to dismissal on the pleaded facts.

Hill-Rom argued Ostrander wasn’t entitled to liquidated damages since she was eventually paid, and that her complaint was improperly filed under a different version of the statute that wasn’t effective at the time of her claim — arguments Ostrander denies.

“The Court is not finding that Ms. Ostrander is indeed owed the damages that she seeks, but rather that the questions of when Ms. Ostrander’s cause of action actually accrued, which version of Ind. Code § 22-2-5-2 applies, and whether the amended version applies retroactively are relevant questions to be determined when the record has been fully developed,” Magnus-Stinson wrote in Janette Ostrander v. Hill-Rom Holdings, Inc., 1:16-cv-1233.
 

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