by Michael Fox
Although you can sympathize with a district court who was probably trying to clear his docket of a bothersome case, his theory didn't work. Here a FLSA claim was turned into a collective action when hundreds of former employees opted in to the suit. At the time they opted in, there were two claims of FLSA violations. A third was later added. The district court granted summary judgment on all three causes of action. The 11th Circuit affirmed on two but remanded on the third. Then is when the district court got in trouble. Instead of ruling on the merits, it dismissed the third claim on the basis that the parties had not re-opted into the action after the third FLSA claim was added, so they were not parties to the only claim that remained. A clever idea, but the 11th Circuit couldn't find any support for it, and so sent it back to the trial court for yet another attempt at resolution. Prickett v. DeKalb County (11th Cir. 11/5/03) [pdf]. Another indication of how time consuming and tricky FLSA collective actions can be.