MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO CERTIFY CLASS (Docket No. 22)
TIMOTHY S. HILLMAN, District Judge.
Barbara St. Pierre and Lynn Guillotte (collectively, Plaintiffs) brought this putative class action against CVS Pharmacy, Inc., Massachusetts CVS Pharmacy, LLC, Massachusetts CVS Pharmacy, Inc., and CVS Caremark Corporation (collectively, Defendants or CVS), alleging that CVS failed to compensate them for their participation in required training sessions. St. Pierre is currently employed by CVS as a pharmacy technician; Guillotte was formerly employed in the same capacity. Plaintiffs now move to certify a class of pharmacy technicians employed by CVS in Massachusetts. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiffs' motion (Docket No. 22) is
CVS operates more than 300 stores throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that sell prescription drugs and other assorted merchandise. St. Pierre has worked for CVS as a pharmacy technician (PT), at a store located in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, from approximately March 18, 2011 to the present. Guillotte worked continuously in the same capacity, in the same location, from approximately 1996 to May of 2013. Plaintiffs were paid on an hourly basis.
CVS requires PTs to participate in several different training formats. The only method at issue for the purposes of this motion is training conducted on CVS's "LearnNet" system, which is an online training platform.
Plaintiffs allege in their complaint, in the most general of terms, that they have not been fully compensated for all of their training time. They assert that CVS "promised to compensate Plaintiffs for all hours worked," "required Plaintiffs to participate in training sessions on a regular basis," "regularly received reports indicating the hours worked by Plaintiffs to complete those trainings," and "did not compensate Plaintiffs for all of the time Plaintiffs worked." (Docket No. 1-1 at ¶¶ 17, 24, 26, 27.) Plaintiffs filed this putative class action in state court in November of 2013, alleging violation of the Massachusetts Wage Act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, § 150 (count I); violation of the Massachusetts minimum wage law, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151
Standard of Review
Rule 23(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure sets forth the following criteria for class certification:
In addition to the elements set forth in Rule 23(a), a putative class-action plaintiff must also satisfy the requirements of Rule 23(b). In this case, Plaintiffs have elected to proceed under subsection (3) of Rule 23(b), which is satisfied if "the court finds that the questions of law or fact common to class members predominate over any questions affecting only individual members, and that a class action is superior to other available methods for fairly and efficiently adjudicating the controversy." Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(3).
The putative class action plaintiff bears the burden of satisfying Rule 23, which "does not set forth a mere pleading standard." Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 564 U.S. 338, 131 S.Ct. 2541, 2551 (2011). The plaintiff must "affirmatively demonstrate" her compliance with the rule. Id. In order to achieve class certification, she must "`be prepared to prove that there are in fact sufficiently numerous parties, common questions of law or fact,' typicality of claims or defenses, and adequacy of representation, as required by Rule 23(a)." Comcast Corp. v. Behrend, 133 S.Ct. 1426, 1432 (2013) (quoting Dukes, 131 S. Ct. at 2551) (emphasis in original). She "must also satisfy through evidentiary proof at least one of the provisions of Rule 23(b)." Id.
It is the court's responsibility to engage in a "rigorous analysis," which may involve "prob[ing] behind the pleadings" in order to decide whether certification is appropriate. Dukes, 131 S. Ct. at 2551 (quoting Gen. Tel. Co. of Sw. v. Falcon, 457 U.S. 147, 160, 161 (1982)). "Such an analysis will frequently entail `overlap with the merits of the plaintiff's underlying claim' . . . because the `class determination generally involves considerations that are enmeshed in the factual and legal issues comprising the plaintiff's cause of action.'" Behrend, 133 S. Ct. at 1432 (quoting Dukes, 131 S. Ct. at 2551)) (citation omitted).
The second element of Rule 23(a), commonality, is dispositive in this case. Rule 23(a)(2) requires that "there are questions of law or fact common to the class." The plaintiff must "demonstrate that the class members `have suffered the same injury,' . . . not . . . merely that they have all suffered a violation of the same provision of law." Dukes, 131 S. Ct. at 2551 (quoting Falcon, 457 U.S. at 157). The Supreme Court has explained:
Id. (quoting Richard A. Nagareda, Class Certification in the Age of Aggregate Proof, 84 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 97, 132 (2009)). The class members' "claims must depend upon a common contention," which "must be of such a nature that it is capable of classwide resolution"; meaning "that determination of its truth or falsity will resolve an issue that is central to the validity of each one of the claims in one stroke." Id.
Here, Plaintiffs complain that they have not been fully compensated for their time spent on LearnNet. However, beyond the generic language in their complaint, Plaintiffs have manifestly failed to demonstrate commonality under the requirements of Rule 23(a)(2). Although Plaintiffs claim that Defendants' violations were systemic and based on a "single company practice" of "failing to pay proper wages to their technicians," (Docket No. 23 at 11, 12), they have submitted nothing beyond conclusory allegations to illustrate this purported policy.
Plaintiffs complain also that Defendants have refused to provide certain requested discovery materials, which would have revealed the details of the alleged class-wide wage violations had they been provided. These requested materials included computer-based training records and payroll information for all PTs in Massachusetts. CVS objected, claiming that the requests were overbroad, overly burdensome, and outside the scope of class-certification discovery. Plaintiffs did not move to compel or limit their request; nor was the matter brought to this Court's attention during the most recent status conference, at which this Court and the parties established a post-stay discovery schedule for the instant motion. Plaintiffs now ask this Court for a presumption, based on CVS's nondisclosure of these discovery materials, that Defendants maintain a statewide policy of failing to pay PTs for training time. Besides being a legal non sequitur, this request is starkly at odds with Plaintiffs' burden of demonstrating the requirements of class certification.
During oral argument, when pressed about the lack of evidence of non-payment, Plaintiffs' counsel referred to certain exhibits, attached to an affidavit of the Senior Director of Training and Development for CVS Pharmacy, Inc., as evidence of unpaid training time.
Although all PTs in Massachusetts may share an interest in the "common question" upon which Plaintiffs rely—did CVS properly compensate PTs for training time?—Plaintiffs have not produced any facts that show that the answer to this question is amenable to class-wide resolution. The well-established "rigorous analysis" required for class certification requires Plaintiffs to demonstrate the nature of their alleged injury and to show that other members of the class suffered the same harm. See Dukes, 131 S. Ct. at 2551. Vague, unsupported allegations do not accomplish this goal. Accordingly, I find that Plaintiffs have not adequately demonstrated the commonality requirement set forth in Rule 23(a)(2). Because each component of Rule 23 is mandatory for class certification, I need not address the remaining elements.