Lowenstein Sandler’s Class Action Litigation practice obtained dismissal for three executives from a putative class action filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. In Joseph Palmisano, et al. v. Crowdergulf, LLC, et al., the plaintiffs brought suit against several companies and individuals, including our clients, who are three executives of co-defendant Bil-Jim Construction Co., Inc. (Bil-Jim). The case alleged violations of the New Jersey Prevailing Wage Act (NJPWA) for purportedly failing to pay the plaintiffs statutorily required prevailing wages, including overtime pay, for subcontracted services related to debris removal from Barnegat Bay following Hurricane Sandy.
On behalf of our clients, Lowenstein filed a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on grounds that the NJPWA does not permit personal liability. We argued that, while the statute applies to “employers,” that term was inapplicable to our clients as individuals. Plaintiffs contended that both Bil-Jim and our clients fit the definition of “employer” and were therefore individually liable under the law.
Finding for our clients, the district court held that the three Bil-Jim executives were not employers within the meaning of the statute and could not be held individually liable under the NJPWA. Quoting an earlier New Jersey district court decision, the judge determined that “̔the NJPWA employs the narrowest definition of employer, providing for no individual liability.’” The judge granted our motion with prejudice and dismissed our clients from the suit.