Cohen Milstein represents non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) drivers in a putative class action alleging that their employer, Medical Transportation Management, Inc. (MTM), knowingly and willfully failed to pay proper wages to its NEMT drivers across Washington, D.C. under federal and District of Columbia law. This lawsuit seeks to hold MTM liable as a joint employer of the drivers.

Key Developments

On August 6, 2021, Judge Mehta granted Plaintiffs Motion for Class Certification under Rule 23(c)(4), certifying for class treatment a key issue in the case, whether MTM qualifies as a joint employer or general contractor of the NEMT drivers and therefore is legally responsible for any failures to pay the drivers their legally required wages.  Judge Mehta further denied MTM’s Motion to Decertify the FLSA Collective Action, finding that the drivers who filed consent forms to join the collective action could proceed collectively in one case because they were similarly situated. In doing so, Judge Mehta followed the standard set by the Ninth and Second Circuits that evaluates whether plaintiffs are “alike with regard to some material aspect of their litigation.”

September 24, 2020, Judge Mehta issued a decision on Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification, finding that Plaintiffs had satisfied the class certification requirements for numerosity, commonality, typicality, adequacy of representation, and superiority, but had not met the predominance requirement because there were individualized issues regarding the drivers pay and hours.  Judge Mehta denied Plaintiffs motion but has allowed for further briefing on class certification of particular issues.

On December 5, 2019, Judge Mehta denied a motion from MTM to compel arbitration of some claims by two of the Plaintiffs, Darnell Frye and Isaac Harris. MTM had asked the Court to dismiss certain claims from the federal district court case and require Mr. Frye and Mr. Harris to bring those claims in arbitration.  Judge Mehta found that because MTM moved to compel arbitration in July 2019, more than two years after the case was filed, rather than at the first available opportunity, it had forfeited its right to arbitrate.

On July 26, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Class Certification of a putative class all Drivers who have provided transportation service to MTM clients in the District of Columbia under any contract with the District of Columbia beginning three years prior to the filing of the case.  Plaintiffs assert that MTM had a common policy of paying a flat rate for trips performed by the putative class members without regard to the amount of time the drivers worked.

On July 17, 2018, Judge Amit P. Mehta for the U.S. District Court, District of Columbia ordered conditional certification of the collective action and granted leave to toll the limitations period for putative collective members from October 2, 2017 until 90 days after the certification notice has been issued. In addition to tolling the limitation period, what is unique about this ruling is that Judge Mehta has allowed counsel to issue certification notice by not only email, but also text message. Text messaging legal notices is being deliberated in courts across the nation.

Case Background

On July 13, 2017, Cohen Milstein, along with Public Citizen Litigation Group, filed a lawsuit on behalf of a class of NEMT drivers against MTM, a company that provides NEMT services to Washington, D.C. residents under a lucrative $85 million contract with the District.

NEMT drivers serve a critical and often overlooked role in our communities: they drive the neediest patients—many of whom are elderly, disabled, or otherwise lack community supports—to their medical appointments to ensure that these patients get the critical health care services they need. Often, these drivers do so at the expense of their own health and welfare, working more than ten-hour shifts at wages that fall far below those required by the law. This practice is unsustainable and against the law.

The complaint alleges that MTM requires the drivers to complete all trips to which they are assigned, often requiring long workdays, but pays the drivers only a flat rate per week or per trip, regardless of the hours each driver works. These practices combine to result in drivers generally receiving effective hourly wages of between $4.00 and $9.00.

Plaintiffs assert that MTM should be held responsible as at least a joint employer for unpaid minimum wages, overtime wages, and living wages for over 1,000 drivers under federal and D.C. law. The named plaintiffs seek to represent a class of drivers who have worked under MTM’s contract with D.C. within the past three years (2014).

The case is styled: Harris et al., v. Medical Transportation Management, Inc., Case No. 1:17-cv-01371, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia