Judge Paul Engelmayer
Under the Class Action Fairness Act plaintiffs sought to represent allegedly “Non-Licensed Employees” working for Deloitte’s audit business in Massachusetts, Minnesota and Ohio. Deloitte allegedly misclassified Non-Licensed Employees as “exempt” under the respective states’ laws, and paid them on a salaried basis, without overtime compensation, despite work beyond 40 hours weekly. Under the “first-filed rule” Deloitte sought venue’s transfer to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where a related suit in Berndt v. Deloitte & Touche was previously filed. Noting exceptions to the first-filed rule articulated by the Second Circuit in Emp’rs Ins. of Wausau v. Fox Entm’t Grp. Inc. and Oleg Cassini Inc. v. Serta Inc., the court denied Deloitte’s transfer motion. Discussing Berndt, the court found that Berndt and plaintiffs’ suit lacked common legal claims, and that the “first-filed rule” did not apply. Not only do both actions raise only state-law claims, the states were not the same. Nor did the putative classes in Berndt and plaintiffs’ case overlap. Discussing the seven factors in N.Y. Mar. & Gen. Ins. Co. v. LaFarge N.A. Inc., the court found the balance of conveniences either favored maintaining plaintiffs’ litigation in New York, or was neutral.