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Jones v. Synergies3 Tec Services, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

July 18, 2018

STEPHEN JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
SYNERGIES3 TEC SERVICES, LLC, ERIC ATCHLEY, AND BENTON ODOM, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          JOHN A. ROSS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter came before the Court for a hearing on Plaintiff Stephen Jones' motion for temporary restraining order (Doc. No. 2), held on July 16, 2018. Plaintiff appeared by counsel. Counsel for Defendants entered a limited appearance for the sole purpose of protecting Defendants' rights at the hearing. The Court heard oral argument and took the matter under submission. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion will be granted.

         BACKGROUND

         On July 15, 2018, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit seeking a collective action under Section 16(b) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §216(b). (Doc. No. 1). Motions for temporary restraining order and class certification were also filed. (Doc. Nos. 2 & 3).

         Plaintiff asserts that this is at least the fourth suit filed against Defendant Synergies3 Tec Services, LLC (“Synergies3”) seeking a collective action under the FLSA. Plaintiff asserts that it is also the third suit filed against Synergies3 seeking a class action under the Missouri Minimum Wage Law and Fed.R.Civ.P. 23. All of these claims similarly allege that Synergies3 fails to pay overtime wages to its satellite television installation technicians.

         In his motion for temporary restraining order, Plaintiff contends that Synergies3 has exhibited a pattern of conduct in which it, upon learning that an FLSA lawsuit had been filed against it, circumvented counsel to obtain “settlement” with the named plaintiffs in exchange for the dismissal of the suit. Plaintiff submits various affidavits in support of his motion, including the affidavit of one of the plaintiffs' attorneys in the first case filed against Synergies3 and a plaintiff in one of the Missouri state cases. (Doc. Nos. 2-4, 2-5). Plaintiff now seeks an order from the Court prohibiting Defendants from any settlement attempts outside the participation of Plaintiff's counsel.

         At the hearing, counsel for Plaintiff reiterated the arguments set forth in his motion for temporary restraining order. Counsel for Defendants first disputed the Court's jurisdiction to enter a temporary restraining order against Defendants. Defense counsel also argued that Plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence of actual or threatened misconduct by Defendants.

         DISCUSSION

         Jurisdiction

         Counsel for Defendants first argued that the Court did not have personal jurisdiction over Defendants because they had not yet been served or answered the Complaint.[1] A federal court may assume personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant to the extent permitted by the forum state's long-arm statute and the Federal Constitution. See Dever v. Hentzen Coatings, Inc., 380 F.3d 1070, 1073 (8th Cir. 2004). Missouri's long-arm statute provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

1. Any person or firm, whether or not a citizen or resident of this state, or any corporation, who in person or through an agent does any of the acts enumerated in this section, thereby submits such person, firm, or corporation, and if an individual, his personal representative, to the jurisdiction of the courts of this state as to any cause of action arising from the doing of any such acts:
(1) The transaction of any business within this state; . . . .

Mo. Rev. Stat. § 506.500.

         In construing the statute, Missouri courts have uniformly held that it is intended to extend jurisdiction over non-resident defendants to the limits allowed under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See, e.g., State ex rel. Metal Service Center of Georgia, Inc. v. Gaertner, 677 S.W.2d 325, 327 (Mo. 1984); State ex rel. Deere & Co. v. Pinnell, 454 S.W.2d 889, 892 (Mo. 1970). The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires that a defendant have such “minimum contacts” with the forum that exercise of jurisdiction over it does not offend “traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.” Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 319 (1945). The defendant's contacts with the forum must be sufficiently purposeful that it “should reasonably anticipate being haled into court there.” World-Wide ...


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