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Schumann v. Collier Anesthesia P.A.

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division

April 6, 2017

BILLY SCHUMANN, DUSTIN ABRAHAM, LAUREN TIDWELL, JEANIE HAKENEWERT, STEPHANIE ALANA MARIE BENJAMIN, CHRISTOPHER M. BOURN, DEREK WHITE, LAHOMA J. NACHTRAB, RICHARDO ROSADO, LANNETTE GIBSON, DANIEL PENTON, DENISE ARMINIO, OFELIA BIAGAN, SHEILA SMITH, CELINE VIDAURRI, CHRISTINA VINAS, RICARDO ROSADO, PATRICK C. HARRELL, RACHEL GOODE, JAMIESON WISHMAN, PAUL CALOIAN, STEVEN TODD LITTLE, JESSICA LINCOLN and CHRISTOPHER JALACKI, Plaintiffs,
v.
COLLIER ANESTHESIA, P.A., WOLFORD COLLEGE, LLC, THOMAS L. COOK and LYNDA M. WATERHOUSE, Defendants.

          ORDER

          CAROL MIRANDO United States Magistrate Judge.

         This matter comes before the Court upon review of Defendant Wolford College, LLC's (“Wolford”) Motion for Sanctions for Failure to Comply with Discovery Order (Doc. 285) filed on March 8, 2017. Wolford seeks sanctions for Plaintiffs' alleged violation of the Court's March 28, 2014 Order. Doc. 285 at 1. Specifically, Wolford seeks as sanctions: (1) to dismiss and strike certain opt-in plaintiffs' notices of consent to join because of their alleged failure to comply with the Court's discovery order; (2) to dismiss all Plaintiffs except five individuals from this action if they do not produce complete discovery responses within seven (7) days; and (3) to award attorney's fees and costs for bringing this motion and Wolford's earlier motions to compel. Id. Plaintiffs oppose the requested relief. Doc. 289.

         I. Background

         On June 29, 2012, Plaintiffs Billy Schumann and Dustin Abraham, former students in the nurse anesthesia master's program (Student Registered Nurse Anesthetists (“SRNA”)) at Wolford, filed a Complaint (Doc. 1) against Defendants Collier Anesthesia, P.A. (“CAPA”), Wolford, Thomas L. Cook (“Cook”), and Lynda M. Waterhouse (“Waterhouse”), on their own behalf and on behalf of other similarly situated individuals, for minimum wage and overtime compensation relief under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). Plaintiffs allege that Defendants hired them as interns, but did not provide them with any monetary compensation. Doc. 1 ¶¶ 14-15.

         CAPA is a for-profit medical group with approximately 15 anesthesiologist (physician) shareholders, which contracts with facilities to provide anesthesia services. Doc. 202 at 2. Physician shareholders of CAPA (along with Waterhouse, who is an officer and Executive Director of CAPA) wholly own Wolford. Id. Wolford is a for-profit single purpose college that educates registered nurses in the field of nurse anesthesia. Id. Cook was the President of CAPA and Chairman/Chancellor of Wolford. Id.

         This case was conditionally certified as a collective action on February 21, 2013, and the 90-day opt-in period ended on July 15, 2013. Doc. 91. Prior to the notice period, fourteen (14) individuals had opted in. Doc. 202 at 3. Throughout the 90-day period, nine additional former nursing students opted in, resulting in a total of 25 potential class members involved in this suit. Id. Discovery closed in this case on January 31, 2014. Doc. 130.

         In January 2014, Wolford filed a Motion to Compel Discovery and Production of Documents (Doc. 142) and a Supplemental Motion to Compel Discovery and Production of Documents from Post-Notice Opt-Ins (Doc. 151). Wolford's motions sought to compel Plaintiffs to produce documents in response to Wolford's Requests Nos. 8, 9, 18, and 19. Doc. 202 at 3-5. Wolford's Requests Nos. 8, 9, 18, and 19 state:

REQUEST NO. 8: [1]All documents reflecting Plaintiff's income, compensation, pay, wages, and earnings since August 1, 2009, including Plaintiff's W-2 forms, payroll statements, earnings statements, paychecks, and federal and state income tax returns for the years 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.
REQUEST NO. 9:[2]All documents related to Plaintiff's employment as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, including, but not limited to, job descriptions, job duties, job responsibilities, evaluations, performance-related documents, and all pay, wage and compensation and benefit documentation.
REQUESTS NOS. 18, 19: All professional certifications and licenses obtained by Plaintiff, including but not limited to nursing certifications and licenses and all documents relating to applications for such certifications and licenses and to Plaintiff's qualifications for certification or licensing.[3]

         Docs. 142 at 3-4; 151 at 4-7; 202 at 3-5. Plaintiffs objected to the requests and opposed Wolford's motions to compel. Docs. 147, 163.

         On March 26, 2014, the Court held a hearing on, among other motions, Wolford's motions to compel (Docs. 142, 151) and subsequently issued a discovery order granting them in part on March 28, 2014 (“Discovery Order”). Docs. 195, 202. The Discovery Order directed Plaintiffs to produce documents in response to Requests Nos. 8, 9, 18, and 19 as modified by Wolford at the hearing, but limited the production to the time period of June 29, 2009 to June 29, 2012. Doc. 202 at 7-8. Plaintiffs' production of documents was due April 18, 2014. Id. On April 18, 2014, Plaintiffs filed a motion for extension of time to comply with the Discovery Order, seeking to extend their deadline of April 18, 2014 to May 2, 2014. Doc. 214. On April 21, 2014, the Court granted in part Plaintiffs' motion for extension and extended their deadline to produce documents to April 28, 2014. Doc. 216.

         On May 23, 2014, Senior United States District Judge John E. Steele granted Defendants' motions for summary judgment (Docs. 174, 181) and denied Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 173). Doc. 226 at 15-16. Judge Steele entered judgment in favor of Defendants and directed the Clerk of Court to terminate all deadlines as moot and close the file. Id. at 16. Accordingly, the Clerk of Court entered Judgment in a Civil Case in favor of Defendants. Doc. 227. On June 20, 2014, Plaintiffs filed a Notice of Appeal, notifying that they appealed the Opinion and Order (Doc. 226) and Judgment (Doc. 227). Doc. 235.

         On September 11, 2015, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion vacating the entry of summary judgment for Defendants and remanding this case for further proceedings consistent with the opinion. Doc. 245. As a result, on October 16, 2015, Judge Steele vacated the Opinion and Order (Doc. 226) and Judgment (Doc. 227) and allowed the parties to file supplemental cross-motions for summary judgment consistent with the Eleventh Circuit's opinion within thirty (30) days of the Order. Doc. 247 at 2-3.

         On October 27, 2016, Judge Steele denied Defendants' motions for summary judgment (Docs. 248, 249) and Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment (Doc. 251). Doc. 269. Judge Steele also reopened this matter and ordered the parties to submit proposed deadlines for the remainder of this case. Doc. 270. On November 28, 2016, the parties filed a Post-Summary Judgment Case Management Report that did not include any proposed discovery deadline. Doc. 271. On December 6, 2016, Judge Steele entered a Second ...


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