WHEELING – Ten West Virginians who helped launch a big lawsuit against retailer Dollar General in Alabama years ago must now start little suits in West Virginia.
All ten allege that Dollar General classified them as managers in order to deny them overtime pay.
In March, U.S. District Judge Scott Coogler of Birmingham transferred the cases to the Northern District of West Virginia, where all 10 worked for Dollar General.
Coogler plans to transfer about 1,000 other cases to districts where plaintiffs worked.
Allen Schreiber of Birmingham started the litigation in 2004 by proposing a "collective action" on behalf of about 5,000 plaintiffs.
U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon of Birmingham certified a collective action and took it to trial in 2006. By then the roster of plaintiffs had shrunk to about 2,400.
On the fifth day of trial, Clemon ruled that Schreiber's expert on damages didn't know anything but what Schreiber told him.
Clemon decertified the collective action and ruled that 12 named plaintiffs could proceed with trial of their individual claims.
The 12 settled, but Schreiber didn't give up on the rest.
He filed a new suit asserting individual claims for more than 2,000 plaintiffs.
Last year, Schreiber and Dollar General jointly moved to transfer each case to the district where the plaintiff worked.
They proposed to transfer about 200 cases every two months.
In December, Coogler transferred 192 cases to federal courts in nine states.
This March, he transferred ten cases to the Northern District of West Virginia and 175 others to federal courts in nine other states.
He continues to preside over 926 cases. For plaintiffs who worked in his district he plans a series of group trials starting in July.
The West Virginia court assigned District Judge John Preston Bailey to preside over claims of Melva Bosley, Mary Howell, Connie Outen, Tawana Proctor, Fabra Stewart, Della Thorne-Judkins and Kimberly Weller.
The court assigned District Judge Irene Keeley to preside over claims of James Morgan, Angela Mayne-Harrison and Christine Richards.