Tri-State CareFlight Overtime Litigation: State and federal laws exist to ensure that most employees receive time and one-half their regular rate of pay if they are required to work more than 40 hours per week. Unfortunately, many employees fail to pay the required overtime to their employees. the result is that too many employees are required to work very hard, but are denied all of the pay to which they are legally entitled.
Moody & Stanford has been active in pursuing overtime claims on behalf of employees who have been wrongfully denied overtime pay. Many overtime claims are for a few thousand dollars each, making them uneconomic to pursue on an individual basis. However, Moody & Stanford frequently pursues employers in a class or collective action, where a few employees may represent a class of tens, hundreds or even thousands of employees.
Moody & Stanford is currently pursuing overtime claims on behalf of New Mexico employees of Tri-State CareFlight, LLC, an air ambulance company. The case Bell, et al. v. Tri-State CareFlight, LLC, et al. is pending in the US District Court for the District of New Mexico. The allegations are that Tri-State violated New Mexico overtime laws by (1) paying Flight Nurses and Flight Paramedics for overtime only for hours in excess of 96 in a two-week pay period rather than hours over 40 per week; and (2) requiring Pilots to work either 7 12-hour shifts followed by 7 days off or 14 12-hour shifts followed by 14 days off without paying overtime. The Pilots also claim that they were sometimes required to work more than 12 hours per shift without receiving any additional compensation. Flight Nurses and Flight Paramedics usually work 24-hour shifts and frequently work 2 or more shifts in a week. You can review the allegations in the Second Amended Complaint by clicking here.
In September 2019 the Court issued its decision on class certification. The Court refused to certify a class on the overtime claim, but certified a class of Pilots on the unjust enrichment claim. We appealed the Court’s refusal to certify the overtime claim, but the appellate court declined to consider the appeal at this time. Notices are currently going out to all persons employed by Tri-State as Pilots in New Mexico at any time from September 11, 2010 through January 19, 2016, informing them of the suit and of their right to opt out of the suit if they so desire. The notice is attached here.
On the overtime issue Tri-State and Dr. Stamper concede that most flight crew members are entitled to overtime, but claim that persons who were assigned duties as a Clinical Base Manager, Lead Pilot and Check Airman in addition to their regular duties may be exempt from the requirement that they be paid overtime compensation. We are pleased that Tri-State and Dr. Stamper now agree that most flight crew members are entitled to overtime and hope that this will expedite a resolution of the case. But we disagree that any fight crew members are exempt from overtime even if they also performed duties as a Clinical Base Manager, Lead Pilot or Check Airman.
A determination of whether flight crew members who also served as a Clinical Base Manager, Lead Pilot or Check Airman will depend on the primary duties of each employee so we are reaching out to the Plaintiffs who served in those rolls to determine more precisely what duties they performed and what level of discretion they were given in performing those duties. We expect the Court to schedule trials on the exempt status of Clinical Base Managers, Lead Pilots and Check Airmen sometime in 2021. In the meantime, we are analyzing the payroll and schedule data to determine both the unpaid overtime for all Plaintiffs and the damages for unjust enrichment for Pilots. We are hopeful that after many delays, the case is now ready to proceed expeditiously to a resolution.
Air Methods Corp. Overtime Litigation: Moody & Stanford, along with co-counsel, is currently pursuing an overtime case against air ambulance operator Air Methods Corp. in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado. The case seeks unpaid overtime, liquidates damages, interest and attorneys’ fees on behalf of persons employed by Air Methods as Flight Nurses or Flight Paramedics in Illinois, Michigan or New Mexico at any time from February 19, 2016 to the present. Our Second Amended Complaint is attached here.
Air Methods pays Flight Nurses and Flight Paramedics an hourly rate for all hours of their 24-hour shifts, but designates 8 hours of that shift as “sleep time.” So long as an employee is able to enjoy at least 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep during the shift, Air Methods excludes the sleep time from overtime calculations. In other words, employees are paid for their sleep time but it does not count toward overtime even though employees are required to stay on the base and be ready to fly on 10 minutes notice. Plaintiffs claim that excluding the “sleep time” from hours worked for overtime purposes violates the laws of Illinois, Michigan and New Mexico entitling Flight Nurses and Flight Paramedics employed in those states from February 19, 2016 on to overtime compensation, additional statutory liquidates damages, interest and their attorneys’ fees.
Discovery has begun in the case and trial is set to begin in January 2021. We have filed a motion with the Court asking that the Court certify one or more classes of flight crew members. The Court will hear argument on that motion on June 24, 2020 and we hope for a ruling shortly thereafter. Anyone seeking more information on the case can contact Chris Moody ([email protected]) or Chelsea Buldain ([email protected]) or call us at 505-944-0033.