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Court grants part of Air Evac EMS' dismissal of three-state overtime wage violation claims by flight pilots, nurses, paramedics

Federal Court

By Marian Johns | Oct 8, 2019


ST. LOUIS – A federal judge in Missouri has granted in part and denied in part an air ambulance company's motion to dismiss a class action suit filed by employees claiming violation of wage laws in three states.

According to the Sept. 18 U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri filing, plaintiff Darrin Buchta and others filed a complaint against the defendant Air Evac EMS Inc., alleging violations of state wage and hour laws in Indiana, West Virginia and Illinois as well as unjust enrichment. It is alleged Air Evac did not pay its flight paramedics, nurses, pilots and mechanics overtime wages for hours worked beyond 40 in a work week.

Air Evac argued the Missouri court lacked jurisdiction over the West Virginia claims.

"Buchta alleges he was injured, Air Evac caused the injury, and the injury can be redressed by a judicial decision," Judge Stephen Clark wrote in the court's decision. "Thus, the court dismisses, with prejudice, the claims under West Virginia law as to pilots and mechanics and denies Air Evac’s motion to dismiss the claims under West Virginia law as to flight paramedics and flight nurses.

"...The complaint does not include any facts regarding the role of flight paramedics and nurses in the aircraft during flight time," Clark wrote. "Therefore, the court cannot determine, at this time, whether flight paramedics and flight nurses are 'assigned to perform duty in the aircraft during flight time' within the meaning of 14 C.F.R. § 1.1, and consequently, if they are exempt from West Virginia wage laws."

Air Evac also argued that Buchta failed to plead that any overtime hours were worked in Illinois and as a result, he could not recover under Illinois' law.

Clark denied the dismissal of Buchta's claims under Illinois wage laws, stating "Buchta’s complaint includes sufficient allegations to plead a claim under Illinois wage laws and satisfies the plausibility standard of Iqbal and Twombly."

Because Clark did not deny the Illinois claims, he denied Air Evac's motion to dismiss the unjust enrichment claims as well.

"Air Evac’s argument Buchta’s unjust enrichment claim must be dismissed is predicated on the court dismissing Buchta’s Illinois wage law claims," Clark wrote. "Because the court did not dismiss Buchta’s Illinois wage law claims, it will not dismiss his unjust enrichment claim."

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