Tuesday, July 19, 2005

How many tries does it take for the Labor Department to plead an overtime case?

In Chao v. Rivendell Woods, Inc., the Fourth Circuit in an opinion by Judge Motz, joined by Judge King and Senior Judge Siler from the Sixth Circuit, reversed the District Court's decision to dismiss without prejudice for failure to state a claim the Government's amended complaint filed in an overtime case.

There's something bizarre about almost every bit of that. First of all, what's a senior judge from the Sixth Circuit doing in the Fourth Circuit case? I thought they were short-handed and swamped with work in Cincinnati. Second, since when does the failure to state a claim mean that the case gets dismissed without prejudice? Third, how often does a dismissal without prejudice get reversed, or even appealed? Fourth, it was the amended complaint that was dismissed, so the DOL lawyers will soon be on their third try to meet the requirements of Rule 8 in this case, which ought to be pretty easy (much easier than the District Court judge seems to think) and which the pros for the Government ought to have figured out how to do by now (since the FLSA was passed roughly 70 years ago).

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