In 2012, Stephanie Mercier and Audricia Brooks sued in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims on behalf of all advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants who worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Their complaint alleged that the VA’s national policies required them to work overtime hours to update patients’ electronic health records and respond to view alert notifications without overtime pay or compensatory time off. Mercier further alleged that Plaintiffs “were entitled [to overtime pay or compensatory time off] under 38 U.S.C. §§ 7453 and 7454 and under VA regulations and policies for all hours of work that they performed on a recurring and involuntary basis.”
In reviewing Mercier’s motion to certify the lawsuit as a class action under Rule 23, which the Government opposed, the Court reviewed the factors required for class certification: (1) numerosity, (2) commonality, (3) typicality, (4) adequacy, and (5) superiority. The Court concluded that Mercier satisfied the numerosity requirement because over three hundred nurses and physician assistants had opted in, and the class has the potential to reach several thousand members. The Court further concluded joinder of over 300 individuals as plaintiffs would be impractical and therefore stated this factor had been met.
In analyzing the commonality requirement—whether there are questions of law or fact common to the class–the Court determined that the suit was of a nature capable of class-wide resolution because “other allegedly individualized variations will be immaterial to its liability.”
The Court also concluded that Mercier has established that the named Plaintiffs were typical of all the other class members because the representative party’s claim shares the same essential characteristics as that of the other class members. Each class member “was subject to the VA’s general standards and policies regarding the timely provision of patient care.”
And the Court concluded that the final two factors were met: adequacy and superiority. Because all five requirements had been met, the Court granted plaintiffs’ motion to certify a class action.
Read Judge Kaplan’s full opinion here.