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Hunter v. Legacy Health

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division

September 30, 2019

IULIANNE HUNTER, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
LEGACY HEALTH, LEGACY EMANUEL MEDICAL CENTER, LEGACY EMANUEL HOSPITAL & HEALTH CENTER, LEGACY HEALTH PARTNERS, LLC, RANDALL CHILREN'S HOSPITAL AT LEGACY EMANUEL, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          John V. Acosta United States Magistrate Judge.

         Introduction

         Plaintiff Julianne Hunter ("Hunter"), individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, brings this action against Defendants Legacy Health, Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, Legacy Emanuel Hospital & Health Center, Legacy Health Partners, LLC, and Randall Children's Hospital at Legacy Emanuel (collectively, "Legacy") under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") and Oregon law, alleging Legacy failed to pay overtime compensation for automatic time deductions and "off-the-clock" work, failed to pay all wages due upon separation of employment, and took unlawful deductions from employee wages. Currently before the court are the parties' competing discovery motions: Legacy's Motion for a Protective Order, (Defs.' Mot. for Protective Order, ECF No. 39 ("Defs.' Mot")), and Hunter's Motion to Compel (Pl.'s Mot. to Compel Defs.' Responses to Written Discovery, ECF No, 43 ("Pl.'s Mot.")). Both Motions seek to define the scope of precertification discovery in this case. For the reasons that follow, Hunter's Motion is GRANTED, in part, and Legacy's motion is DENIED.

         Background

         Legacy is a nonprofit health system with facilities spread across southern Washington and the Willamette Valley in northern Oregon. (Deck of Eve Logsdon in Supp. of Defs.' Mot. for Protective Order, ECF No. 39 ("Lodgsdon Deck"), ¶2.) Legacy operates six hospitals, 27 primary care clinics, 90 specialty clinics, and 19 urgent care clinics, (Id.) Two of Legacy's hospitals, Legacy Emanuel Medical Center ("Emanuel") and Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center, are regional hospitals serving patients from Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. (Id. ¶3.) Legacy's other hospitals are community hospitals, which serve patients locally. (Id.) All of Legacy's clinics are out-patient facilities which serve patients by appointment, with the exception of Legacy's urgent care clinics, which provide care to patients by appointment and walk-in. (Id.) Currently, Legacy employs 4, 990 registered nurses ("RNs"), certified nursing assistants, certified hospital technicians, medical assistants, and emergency department technicians in its facilities systemwide. (Id. ¶ 5.)

         Emanuel is a unique facility within the Legacy health system and the State of Oregon. In addition to serving patients from a large geographic area, Emanuel is a Level I Trauma Center, a "comprehensive regional facilit[y] that [has] high patient volumes and [is] capable of providing total care for every aspect of injury, from prevention, to treatment, to rehabilitation." (Id. ¶ 4.) Emanuel provides treatment for the most serious conditions, including trauma sustained in catastrophic accidents, gunshot wounds, and infectious diseases. (Id.) Emanuel is one of only two Level I trauma centers in Oregon, and the only facility of its type in the Legacy health system. (Id.)

         Housed within Emanuel is Randall Children's Hospital ("Randall"), a similarly unique institution in that it is one of only two children's hospitals in Oregon and the only children's hospital in the Legacy health system. (Id.) Randall provides regional, comprehensive care that includes children's emergency services, neonatal and pediatric intensive care, pediatric surgery, cancer treatment, inpatient and outpatient care, and physical rehabilitation. (Id.) Together, Emanuel and Randall comprise Legacy's largest hospital, with 136 separate patient care units or "cost centers." (Id.) Indeed, there are presently 1, 625 RNs, certified nursing assistants, certified hospital technicians, medical assistants, and emergency department technicians employed by Legacy at Randall and Emanuel. (Id. ¶ 5.)

         On March 23, 2009, Hunter began employment with Legacy as a Critical Care RN, working the night shift in Randall's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit ("PICU"). (Id. ¶ 14.) She also occasionally worked in Randall's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit ("NICU") and Emanuel's Neurotrama Intensive Care Unit ("NT-ICU") as an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation ("ECMO") specialist. (Id.) When she resigned on April 20, 2016, Hunter still worked primarily as a Critical Care RN in the PICU, and sporadically served as an ECMO specialist in the NICU and NT-ICU. (Id.)

         During her tenure as a Legacy employee, Hunter alleges she was required, in accordance with a company-wide policy or practice, to remain responsible for patient care throughout her shift, and was expected to perform duties off-the-clock. Specifically, Hunter claims nurses did not clock in and out to take statutorily mandated, uninterrupted meal breaks. Instead, Legacy "assume[d] nurses were able to find a 30-minute block of time to enjoy a bona fide meal period," and automatically deducted 30 minutes from each shift. (Class and Collective Action Compl, ECF No. 1 ("Compl"), ¶ 2.) Because nurses remain on duty - required to "respond to calls from their patients, doctors, patients' families, other nursing staff and hospital staff, attend to the normal demands of the job, and otherwise respond to emergencies" - an uninterrupted, 30-minute meal break was rare. (Id. ¶32.) Hunter contends Legacy's withholding of compensation for such breaks was wrongful Hunter also alleges she was required to perform work such as cleaning, preparing and organizing equipment, interacting with patients, assisting other hospital staff, charting, and various other tasks before she clocked in and after she clocked out for the day. (Id. ¶¶ 33, 34.) She thus alleges Legacy failed to compensate her for work she was required to perform "off-the-clock."

         On December 26, 2018, Hunter filed this collective and class action lawsuit, alleging Legacy failed to pay her and class and collective members overtime to which they were entitled. Hunter contends Legacy did not include the time worked during meal periods or the time spent performing additional tasks before and after her shift in the total number of hours for which she was compensated in any given work week. (Id. ¶ 44.) The Complaint alleges this unpaid time is compensable under the FLSA and Oregon law because: "(1) Plaintiff and Collective and Class members were not completely relieved of their duties, (2) they were interrupted or subject to interruptions with work duties during any attempted meal period, or (3) they entirely skipped the meal and rest period due to work demands." (Id.)

         Hunter defines the FLSA Collective members and the Oregon Class members as "people who are or have been employed by [Legacy] as nurses, nurse aides, nurse assistants, and other similar hourly and non-exempt employees" working in either the United States (FLSA) or in the State of Oregon (Oregon) "that have been subject to an automatic time deduction by Defendants" within either the three years (FLSA) or the six years (Oregon) preceding the filing of the Complaint. (Id. ¶¶ 13, 14.) At present, four individuals have opted-in to the collective FLSA action alongside Hunter. All four work or have worked at Emanuel as RNs. (Logsdon Deck ¶¶ 15-18.)

         On March 22, 2019, Hunter served Legacy with her first set of interrogatories and requests for production. (Pl.'s Mot., Ex. 1.) Hunter's numerous discovery requests seek to implicate Legacy's policies, practices, and personnel systemwide. Notably, Requests for Production 12 and 13, and Interrogatories 1 and 2, explicitly seek information related to class certification. Those requests provide:

Request No. 12 - A list identifying all Putative Oregon Class Members from December 26, 2012, to the present. The list should include each Putative Oregon Class Members' name, job title(s), last-known address, last-known phone number, last known email address, dates of employment, location at which the employee worked, and social security numbers. (Id. at 22.[1])
Request No. 13 - A list identifying all Putative Collective Members from December 26, 2015, to the present. The list should include each Putative Collective Members' name, last-known address, last-known phone number, last-known email address, dates of employment, location at which the employee worked, and social security numbers. (Id.)
Interrogatory No. 1 - Identify all Putative Class Members, stating each individual's (a) full name; (b) job title and dates of employment with Defendant; (c) employment location at which the individual worked for Defendant; (d) last known residence, telephone number, and cell phone number; and (e) last known personal email address. (Id. at 8.)
Interrogatory No. 2 - Identify all Putative Collective Members, stating each individual's (a) full name; (b) job title and dates of employment with Defendant; (c) employment location at which the individual worked for Defendant; (d) last-known residence, telephone number, and cell ...

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