Court Certifies Class Action by Employees Seeking Prevailing Wages

 

            On December 26, 2014, the Dearborn Circuit Court in Lawrenceburg, Indiana issued an order certifying a class action by construction workers and other laborers who have worked for Linkmeyer Development II, LLC. The case will now proceed on behalf of approximately one hundred persons. The class of persons is defined by the court as:

All current and former laborers and mechanics, as those terms are applied in the Davis-Bacon Act and the Indiana Common Construction Wage Act, of Linkmeyer Development II, LLC who worked in furtherance of the project called for by the November 30, 2009 Development Agreement Between the City of Lawrenceburg, Indiana and Linkmeyer Development II, LLC, except Michael Linkmeyer and Tracy Linkmeyer who are excluded from the class.

            The basic allegations of the case are that the defendants­–Linkmeyer Development II, LLC and its owners–violated the Davis-Bacon Act, the Indiana Common Construction Wage Act, and the Code of the City of Lawrencburg by failing to pay what is commonly known as “prevailing wages” for work on a public project. As was argued in the briefing in support of certification of the class (links to which are located below):

            The requirement to pay prevailing wages to the named Plaintiffs and the members of the proposed Class stems from the November 30, 2009 Development Agreement Between the City of Lawrenceburg, Indiana and Linkmeyer Development II, LLC (the “Development Agreement”). A copy of the Development agreement is attached as Exhibit A. Generally speaking, the Development Agreement required Linkmeyer to fill and level three tracts of land comprising a total of approximately 103 acres. As part of the Development Agreement, Linkmeyer was obligated to acquire two tracts of land referred to as the Ellis and Walters properties. Additionally, Linkmeyer was required to grant a first mortgage on the Ellis property to the City of Lawrenceburg, as well as a mortgage on any property conveyed to Linkmeyer by the City. Linkmeyer was also required to petition the City for annexation of the Ellis property and to fully cooperate in meeting that result.

            Among other things, the Development Agreement specifically required Linkmeyer to “comply with all appropriate codes, laws and ordinances including the payment of prevailing wages for labor as required by the State of Indiana and the City of Lawrenceburg.” (Emphasis added). In exchange for these and other terms, the City of Lawrenceburg was to provide a loan of up to three million dollars ($3,000,000) to Linkmeyer to be paid in one million dollar ($1,000,000) installments following three designated events. The loan was to be repaid within a five-year period at a rate of two percent (2%) per year against only the funds that were actually used. Additionally, the City of Lawrenceburg was to convey the approximately twenty-one and one-half (21.5) acres of City property to Linkmeyer.

            Linkmeyer readily admits that it has never made any effort to pay its employees prevailing wages. Deposition of Steven Linkmeyer, attached as Exhibit B, 30:4-21. Unsurprisingly, this resulted in Linkmeyer not paying prevailing wages to the named Plaintiffs or to the proposed Class members.

            Due to the requirement that Linkmeyer pay prevailing wages, and its failure to do so, Plaintiffs bring four causes of action by way of their Class Action Complaint: (i) breach of contract as intended third-party beneficiaries; (ii) a claim for violations of the Indiana Common Construction Wage Act; (iii) violations of Indiana’s wage statutes; and, in the alternative, (iv) unjust enrichment/quantum meruit. Because the claims for each named Plaintiff are identical to the claims of each member of the proposed Class, as is the evidence and factual circumstances to be proven, Plaintiffs request that the Court certify this matter as a class action pursuant to Ind. Trial Rules 23(A) and (B).

            Ultimately, the court agreed with the plaintiffs that this case is well suited to be handled as a class action. Consequently, the court certified the class and designated the six named-plaintiffs that have been the backbone of the case since day 1 as the representatives of the class. The court further designated the attorneys of Pavlack Law along with their co-counsel as counsel for the class.

            After a bit more procedural steps, the persons affected will be sent notice of this determination and will receive an explanation of their rights and obligations to remain part of the class.

            This result has been hard won after lengthy discovery and scores of pages of briefing in the case to date. It would not have been possible to get this far without the diligent efforts and commitment of the class representatives. Their efforts and the continued work of their attorneys will continue to drive this case toward accomplishing its goal of holding Linkmeyer Developoment II, LLC to its obligations to pay its workers fair wages.

 

Documents Filed in the Case