Thomas v. Amazon.Com Servs., Inc., Case No. 1:19-cv-01696

CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
Writing for the CourtJ. Philip Calabrese, United States District Judge
Citation561 F.Supp.3d 740
Parties Savon THOMAS, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff, v. AMAZON.COM SERVICES, INC., et al., Defendants.
Docket NumberCase No. 1:19-cv-01696
Decision Date22 September 2021

561 F.Supp.3d 740

Savon THOMAS, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
AMAZON.COM SERVICES, INC., et al., Defendants.

Case No. 1:19-cv-01696

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division.

Signed September 22, 2021

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Christopher J. Lalak, Nilges Draher, Cleveland, OH, Shannon M. Draher, Hans A. Nilges, Nilges Draher, Massillon, OH, for Plaintiff Savon Thomas.

Anthony J. Lazzaro, Chastity L. Christy, Lori M. Griffin, Lazzaro Law Firm, Moreland Hills, OH, for Plaintiff Madeline Gorie.

Kevin F. Gaffney, Sari M. Alamuddin, Pro Hac Vice, Morgan Lewis & Bockius, Chicago, IL, Richard G. Rosenblatt, Joseph A. Nuccio, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, Princeton, NJ, Andrew J. Barber, Stephanie R. Reiss, Pro Hac Vice, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, Pittsburgh, PA, for Defendants Services, Inc.,, Inc.


J. Philip Calabrese, United States District Judge

Plaintiffs Savon Thomas and Colleen McLaughlin, employees at an Amazon fulfillment center in Summit County, Ohio, filed a class action lawsuit against Defendants Services, Inc. and, Inc., alleging that Amazon violated Ohio's Minimum Fair Wage Standards Act by failing to pay employees for time spent undergoing security screenings before lunch breaks at their respective jobsites. The parties stipulated to the dismissal of Ms. McLaughlin's claim without prejudice. (ECF No. 37; ECF No. 38.) Defendants move for summary judgment, but the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this lawsuit. Therefore, the Court VACATES the proceedings to date and DISMISSES this action WITHOUT PREJUDICE .


Plaintiff filed a putative class action against Defendants, asserting a single claim under the Ohio Minimum Fair Wage Standards Act and invoking the Court's diversity jurisdiction. (ECF No. 1, ¶¶ 4,

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39–53, PageID #1, 7–8.) As originally pleaded, Plaintiff alleged that Defendants failed to pay workers for time spent going through a mandatory security screening process twice per shift: at the end of the shift and before lunch breaks. (Id. , ¶¶ 18 & 19, PageID #3.) According to the complaint, "Defendants’ mandatory post-shift and pre-lunch screening process routinely takes up to between 10 and 20 minutes." (Id. , ¶ 27, PageID 4.) Plaintiff alleges that workers regularly work more than forty hours per workweek and that Defendants did not pay them for overtime and underpaid overtime compensation. (Id. , ¶¶ 17, 30, PageID #3, 5.)

After answering, Defendants moved for judgment on the pleadings. (ECF No. 16.) Before reassignment of the case, the Court granted the motion in part and denied it in part. (ECF No. 27.) As a result of that ruling, Plaintiff's claim was limited to the underpayment of overtime compensation for the time spent in "the pre-lunch security screenings [that] were mandatory." (Id. , PageID #244.)

After ruling on the motion for judgment on the pleadings, and before reassignment of the case, the Court consolidated this case with Gorie v. Services, LLC , Case No. 1:20-cv-1387. In Gorie , Plaintiff—represented by different counsel—challenges the same compensation practices at Amazon fulfillment centers in Ohio under the Fair Labor Standards Practices Act. (See generally Gorie ECF No. 1.) In both cases, the parties moved to amend the case management order to sequence the resolution of the claims in the two consolidated cases. (ECF No. 35; Gorie ECF No. 27.) Specifically, "the parties agree[d] that discovery in the consolidated actions should be bifurcated so that discovery specific to the claims of Gorie and the putative collective would begin only after discovery on the claims of Thomas and McLaughlin is completed and motions for summary judgment on their claims are resolved." (ECF No. 35, PageID #279; Gorie ECF No. 27, PageID #182.) With respect to conditional certification of a collective in Gorie , the parties left the timing of a motion to Plaintiff but deferred "notice until after a final determination on the merits of the Thomas named plaintiffs’ claims." (ECF No. 35, PageID #280; Gorie ECF No. 27, PageID #183.)

In the Court's view, this procedure is inconsistent with Rule 23, which directs determination of class certification "[a]t an early practicable time," which generally comes before summary judgment. Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(c)(1)(A). Nonetheless, at a status conference on October 1, 2020 before reassignment of the case, the Court granted the motion to amend the case management order as the parties proposed in both cases. (ECF No. 36, PageID #284.) Accordingly, the Court ordered the parties’ proposed sequencing of the cases:

Plaintiff Gorie may move for conditional class certification whenever she chooses, provided that in the event the court grants notice, the parties agree to defer the issuance of notice, and the Court orders that the issuance of notice be deferred, until after a final determination on the merits of the Thomas named plaintiffs’ claims.

(Id. , PageID #285.) The Court ordered the parties to submit a proposed scheduling order within fourteen days of a ruling on Defendants’ motion for summary judgment in the Thomas case. (Id. )

Subsequently, Plaintiff filed several opt-in forms in Gorie . (Gorie ECF Nos. 28, 29, 30, 31, 32.) Both cases were reassigned on December 9, 2021.


Because of the limited jurisdiction of the federal courts, the Court has an

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independent obligation to examine its own jurisdiction to ensure that it has the authority to proceed. See, e.g. , Nikolao v. Lyon , 875 F.3d 310, 315 (6th Cir. 2017) (citations and quotations omitted); Mercurio v. American Express Centurion Bank , 363 F. Supp. 2d 936, 938 (N.D. Ohio 2005). "[F]ederal courts have a duty to consider their subject matter jurisdiction in regard to every case and may raise the issue sua sponte. " Answers in Genesis of Ky., Inc. v. Creation Ministries Int'l, Ltd. , 556 F.3d 459, 465 (6th Cir. 2009). Jurisdiction is determined at the time of the filing of the complaint. See, e.g. , Farmer v. Fisher , 386 F.App'x 554, 557 (6th Cir. 2010) (per curiam) (citing Curry v. U.S. Bulk Transp., Inc. , 462 F.3d 536, 540 (6th Cir. 2006) ).

In the complaint, Plaintiff invokes the Court's jurisdiction "pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332." (ECF No. 1, ¶ 4, PageID #1.) Although the complaint does not identify the specific subsection of Section 1332 that confers jurisdiction, Plaintiff goes on to allege that "the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs," making clear that the complaint invokes conventional diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). (Id. )

Because Plaintiff asserts only a single claim under State law and invokes the Court's diversity jurisdiction, the Court ordered the parties to address whether the Court has jurisdiction. (ECF No. 43.) Although the parties are diverse, neither party contends the Court has jurisdiction under Section 1332(a). (...

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