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Noll v. Flowers Foods, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maine

January 15, 2019

TIMOTHY NOLL, et al., Plaintiffs
v.
FLOWERS FOODS, INC., et al., Defendants

          DECISION AND ORDER

          Lance E. Walker United States District Judge.

         In this action, Plaintiff Timothy Noll alleges that Defendants Flowers Foods, LePage Bakeries, and CK Sales Company misclassify Maine-based product distributors as independent contractors, and that Maine and federal law require that he and other distributors be compensated as employees. Now pending are Plaintiff's Motion for Class Certification (ECF No. 191) and Defendants' Motion for Decertification of the Conditionally Certified Collective Action (ECF No. 190).

         The parties' briefs set forth the salient factual background and I discern no material factual dispute that requires resolution in order to rule on the pending motions. For reasons outlined below, Plaintiff's motion is granted and Defendants' motion is denied.

         I. Class Certification

         Plaintiff requests certification of a class of plaintiffs to pursue claims for employee misclassification (Count II - declaratory judgment of misclassification); violation of Maine's independent contractor law, 26 M.R.S. §§ 1043(11)(E) and 591-A (Count III); violation of Maine's employment practices laws, 26 M.R.S. §§ 621 and 661 (Count IV); and contract recission and quantum meruit (Count V). Through these claims Plaintiffs seek injunctive relief as well as damages for unpaid overtime and unlawful paycheck deductions. Plaintiff proposes the following class:

All persons who, at any time from December 2, 2012 continuing through entry of judgment in this case, worked as distributors for Flowers Foods, Inc., Lepage Bakeries, Inc., and/or CK Sales Co., LLC, in the State of Maine and were classified as independent contractors under their distribution agreements.

(Plaintiff's Motion for Class Certification at 8, ECF No. 192-1.)

         Plaintiff must demonstrate that the class and claims satisfy the four prerequisites of Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a), and that the proposed class action would be a type of class action condoned under Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b). For reasons set forth below, I find that Plaintiff has satisfied the requirements and, therefore, I will certify the class.

         A. Rule 23(a) Prerequisites

         Pursuant to Rule 23(a):

One or more members of a class may sue ... as representative parties on behalf of all members only if:
(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable;
(2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class;
(3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class; and
(4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.

         1. Numerosity.

         The proposed class consists of approximately 102 individuals. Although Defendant argues that Plaintiff has not demonstrated that joinder would be impracticable, I conclude that the size of the class meets the numerosity requirement. Scovil ...


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