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Cooper v. Noble Casing, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Colorado

November 3, 2016

TYELER COOPER, on behalf of himself and all similarly situated persons, Plaintiff,
v.
NOBLE CASING, INC., a North Dakota corporation, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION

          William J. Martínez United States District Judge

         In this action, Plaintiff Tyeler Cooper (“Cooper”) claims that his former employer, Defendant Noble Casing, Inc. (“Noble”) failed to pay him overtime wages in breach of his employment agreement and in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq., and similar Colorado statutes. (ECF No. 1.) The Court previously granted Cooper's unopposed motion for conditional certification of this action as an opt-in collective action under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). (ECF No. 39.) Currently before the Court is Cooper's Motion for Class Certification under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. (ECF No. 37.) As described in more detail below, this motion is denied because individualized issues about every potential class member's duties on a week-to-week basis will overwhelm common questions.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Noble is an oilfield services company headquartered in Colorado. (ECF No. 43 at 2.) As its full name suggests, Noble provides “casing” services, “which consist[] of running pipe or ‘casing' into pre-drilled holes to extract oil.” (Id.) Cooper claims he worked for Noble “from approximately November 2011 to October 2014.” (ECF No. 1 ¶ 16.) While employed at Noble, Cooper was paid by the hour in some circumstances and by the foot of installed casing in other circumstances. (Id. ¶ 7.) He claims that this system required him and his co-workers to work more than forty hours in a week, but they were not paid time-and-a-half for those hours in excess of forty. (Id.) Cooper now seeks to certify a class of casing services employees.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Legal Standard

         As the party seeking class certification, Cooper must first demonstrate that all four prerequisites of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) are clearly met. Shook v. El Paso Cnty., 386 F.3d 963, 971 (10th Cir. 2004); see also Tabor v. Hilti, Inc., 703 F.3d 1206 (10th Cir. 2013). These threshold elements consist of the following: (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 party 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. Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a).

         If Cooper proves he has met these threshold requirements, he must then demonstrate that the action falls within one of the three categories set forth in Rule 23(b). Shook, 386 F.3d at 971. Here, Cooper seeks certification pursuant to Rule 23(b)(3).

         As the party seeking to certify a class, Cooper bears the strict burden of proving the requirements of Rule 23. Trevizo v. Adams, 455 F.3d 1155, 1162 (10th Cir. 2006). In determining the propriety of a class action, the question is not whether a plaintiff has stated a cause of action or will prevail on the merits, but rather whether the requirements of Rule 23 are met. Anderson v. City of Albuquerque, 690 F.2d 796, 799 (10th Cir. 1982). When deciding whether the proposed class meets the requirements of Rule 23, the Court accepts the plaintiff's substantive allegations as true, though it need not blindly rely on conclusory allegations and may consider the legal and factual issues which the complaint presents. Shook, 386 F.3d at 968; see also Vallario v. Vandehey, 554 F.3d 1259, 1265 (10th Cir. 2009). The Court should not pass judgment on the merits of the case, but must conduct a “rigorous analysis” to ensure that the requirements of Rule 23 are met. D.G. ex rel. Stricklin v. Devaughn, 594 F.3d 1188, 1194 (10th Cir. 2010).

         The decision whether to grant or deny class certification “involves intensely practical considerations and therefore belongs within the discretion of the trial court.” Tabor, 703 F.3d. at 1227.

         B. Proposed Class

         Cooper proposes the following class definition: “All current and former casing services employees who worked for Noble in Colorado at any time from September 2, 2012 to present.” (ECF No. 37 at 2.) Noble states no objection specif ically to this proposed definition.

         C. Rule 23(a)

         The Court's first task is to ensure that the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) requirements are satisfied as to the proposed Class: (1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable (“numerosity”); (2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class (“commonality”); (3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class (“typicality”); and (4) the representative parties will ...


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