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Ide v. Neighborhood Restaurant Partners, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division

July 8, 2014

ANDREA IDE, on behalf of herself and all other persons similarly situated, known and unknown, Plaintiff,
v.
NEIGHBORHOOD RESTAURANT PARTNERS, LLC, and APPLE CREEK MANAGEMENT COMPANY, INC., Defendants

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For Andrea Ide, on behalf of herself and all other persons similarly situated, known and unknown, Plaintiff: Amanda A. Farahany, LEAD ATTORNEY, Victor Severin Roberts, Barrett & Farahany, LLP, Atlanta, GA; Douglas M. Werman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Sarah J. Arendt, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Werman Law Office, P.C., Chicago, IL; Jamie G. Sypulski, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Law Office of Jamie G. Sypulski, Chicago, IL.

For Neighborhood Restaurant Partners, LLC, Defendant: Arthur J. Rooney, Jeremy W. Stewart, LEAD ATTORNEYS, PRO HAC VICE, Noah A. Finkel, LEAD ATTORNEY, Seyfarth Shaw, LLP-Chicago, Chicago, IL; Louisa J. Johnson, Seyfarth Shaw-Atlanta, Atlanta, GA.

For Apple Creek Management Company, Inc., Defendant: Stephen Paul Fuller, Davidson Fuller & Sloan LLP, Johns Creek, GA.

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ORDER

HONORABLE STEVE C. JONES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

This matter is before the Court on Defendants Apple Creek Management Company, Inc.'s (" ACMC" ) and Neighborhood Restaurant Partners LLC's (" NRP" ) (collectively " Defendants" ) Joint Motion for

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Leave to File a Memorandum in Excess of 25 Pages [Doc. No. 54], Plaintiff Andrea Ide's (" Plaintiff" ) Motion for Leave to File a Reply in Excess of 15 Pages [Doc. No. 57], Defendants' Motion to Submit Supplemental Authority [Doc. No. 65], Defendants' Motion to Submit Supplemental Authority [Doc. No. 66], Plaintiff's Motion for an Order to Authorize Notice to Similarly-Situated Persons [Doc. No. 51], and Plaintiff's Motion to Stay Briefing on ACMC's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 63]. For the reasons explained in this order, Defendants' motion for leave, Plaintiff's motion for leave and Defendants' motions to submit supplemental authority are GRANTED, Plaintiff's motion for conditional certification is DENIED, and Plaintiff's motion to stay briefing is DISMISSED AS MOOT.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

ACMC owned and operated 40 Applebee's restaurants throughout north Georgia (the " Applebee's restaurants" ) until October of 2011 [Doc. No. 51, 3]. On or about October 13, 2011, NRP bought, and subsequently began to operate, the Applebee's restaurants from ACMC [ id. ].

From May 2002 until February 2013, Plaintiff worked at one of the Applebee's restaurants, located in Lawrenceville, Georgia, as a server, bartender, and host [ id. at 4]. While employed by Defendants in the aforementioned positions, Plaintiff was paid on a " tip credit" wage rate pursuant to § 203(m) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (" FLSA" ), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. [Doc. No. 22, 4]. As she was paid a " tip credit" wage rate under the FLSA, Plaintiff received a cash hourly wage below the federal minimum wage rate [ id. ].[1]

On February 15, 2013, Plaintiff initiated this action under the FLSA, on behalf of herself and other current and former tip credit employees of the Applebee's restaurants, seeking " earned minimum wages" [Doc. No. 1, 2]. In her original complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant required its tip credit employees " to perform duties outside the scope of tipped occupations, while paying those employees at the tip-credit wage rate" [ id. at 6]. Plaintiff further alleges in the original complaint that Defendants violated the FLSA by failing to inform its tip credit employees of the " tip credit subsection of the Act" [ id. at 2]. Based on these allegations, Plaintiff's original complaint seeks all unpaid minimum wages earned by Defendants' tip-credit employees " for a period of three years" [ id. at 7].

In response to Plaintiff's original complaint, Defendants each filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure [Doc. No. 17, 1; Doc. No. 18, 1]. In accordance with Rule 15(a)(1)(B) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Plaintiff timely filed an amended complaint on April 11, 2013 [Doc. No. 22, 1]. The amended complaint, like the original complaint, seeks unpaid minimum wages allegedly owed to Defendants' tip credit employees " for a period of three years" [ id. at 7]. The amended complaint additionally seeks attorneys' fees and costs and " liquidated damages in an amount equal to the amount of unpaid minimum wages" [ id. ]. As they were directed towards Plaintiff's original complaint, the undersigned,

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pursuant to Plaintiff's amended complaint, dismissed Defendants' respective motions to dismiss as moot [Doc. No. 40, 2].

NRP filed an answer to Plaintiff's amended complaint on April 29, 2013 [Doc. No. 24, 12]. Thereafter, Plaintiff and Defendants filed a joint preliminary report and discovery plan that requests a 10 month discovery period [Doc. No. 27, 6]. This joint preliminary report and discovery plan further articulates that all motions, other than motions that have a specific filing deadline under the local rules, " must be filed WITHIN THIRTY (30) DAYS after the beginning of discovery" [ id. at 5]. On June 6, 2013, the undersigned entered a scheduling order adopting the time limits articulated in the joint preliminary report and discovery plan and granting the parties' request for a 10 month discovery period [Doc. No. 29, 1-2].

On January 15, 2014, Plaintiff filed a motion to conditionally certify this case as a collective action under the FLSA [Doc. No. 51, 1]. Defendants filed their respective responses to this motion on February 10, 2014 [Doc. No. 55, 1; Doc. No. 56, 1]. In addition, Defendants contemporaneously filed a joint motion for leave to file responses that exceed the 25 page limitation articulated by the local rules [Doc. No. 54, 1]. Plaintiff subsequently filed a reply brief in support of her motion for conditional collective action certification on February 24, 2014 [Doc. No. 58, 1]. Along with this reply brief, Plaintiff contemporaneously filed a motion for leave to file her reply brief in excess of the 15 page limitation articulated by the local rules [Doc. No. 57, 1]. Defendants subsequently filed two motions for leave to submit supplemental authority in the form of decisions by this Court regarding conditional certification under the FLSA [Doc. No. 65, 1; Doc. No. 66, 1]. Both of these decisions were issued after Defendants' respective responses were filed [Doc. No. 65-1, 2; Doc. No. 66-1, 1].

ACMC filed a motion for summary judgment on March 12, 2014 [Doc. No. 60, 2]. In lieu of filing a response, Plaintiff filed a motion to stay briefing on ACMC's motion until a ruling is made on her motion for conditional certification [Doc. No. 63, 1]. In addition, Plaintiff and NRP filed a joint motion to extend their respective deadlines to file a motion for summary judgment or proposed consolidated pre-trial order until a ruling is made on Plaintiff's motion for conditional certification ...


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