On Monday, December 3, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear argument in Genesis HealthCare Corp. v.Symczyk. At issue is whether a putative Fair Labor Standards Act (“FSLA”) collective action is moot when: (1) the named plaintiff holds a Rule 68 offer in full satisfaction of her individual claim before moving for certification, and (2) no other potential plaintiff has opted-in to the suit.
In 2009, Genesis HealthCare was sued in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by a former employee, Laura Symczyk. Ms. Symczyk alleged that she had on many occasions worked through her meal break but was not paid. Ms. Symczyk sought to represent herself and a class of potentially thousands of other employees.
Genesis proffered an "Offer of Judgment" under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68, which provides that a defendant who makes an offer of everything the plaintiff could hope to recover can then seek dismissal of the case. The Rule's rationale is that, if the defendant makes such an offer, there is no longer the live "case or controversy.” Genesis offered Ms. Symczyk $ 7500 plus attorneys' fees-- an amount she acknowledged was more than she could ever possibly recover in the lawsuit. No other person opted-in to or otherwise joined the case.
After Genesis made the offer, the district court dismissed the case pursuant to Rule 68. The plaintiff appealed, making the policy argument that defendants could just "pick off" potential lead plaintiffs in an attempt to avoid class actions. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit agreed with plaintiff and reversed.
In this “Courthouse Steps” edition of Teleforum, Ms. Harned will attend oral argument and present to our audience background information on the case and a recap of the argument.
- Mrs. Karen R. Harned, Executive Director, National Federation of Independent Business Legal Center
Call begins at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
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