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Signet Builders, Inc. v. Luna Vanegas

Construction worker Jose Ageo Luna Vanegas filed suit in federal district court in Wisconsin, alleging that his employer Signet Builders had misclassified him as exempt from the overtime pay rule in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  Mr. Luna Vanegas sought certification for the case to proceed as a collective action on behalf of himself and similarly situated workers who elected to opt in to the suit, as provided for in the FLSA. Signet opposed the motion for certification. Invoking the Supreme Court’s decision in Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court, Signet argued that the federal court in Wisconsin lacked personal jurisdiction over it with respect to claims of any members of a collective action whose claims arose outside Wisconsin. Rejecting that argument, the district court granted Mr. Luna Vanegas’s motion for conditional certification of the collective action. The court also certified the ruling for interlocutory appeal to the Seventh Circuit, and the Seventh Circuit granted the petition for interlocutory appeal.

In the Seventh Circuit, Public Citizen, on behalf of law professors Helen Hershkoff, Arthur Miller, Alan Morrison, John Sexton, and Adam Steinman, filed a brief as amici curiae in support of Mr. Luna Vanegas. The brief explains that Bristol-Myers addresses due process limits on the powers of state courts that do not apply to federal courts. In addition, the brief explains that, although the provisions of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure dealing with service of process incorporate some of the limits of the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause on state courts’ exercise of personal jurisdiction, the Federal Rules do not require opt-in plaintiffs separately to serve a summons and a complaint on Signet.