Pierce v. ABC Carpet

Civil Practice

, New York Law Journal


Judge Robert Patterson

Pierce's Feb. 13, 2004, complaint charged former employer ABC with violating the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York's Minimum Wage Act. His Oct. 28, 2009, amended complaint charged ABC and codefendants Weinrib and Chapman with nonpayment of overtime and improper wage deductions. In both complaints, Pierce demanded a jury trial. However, a 2011 Joint Pretrial Order stated that under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 34(b), Pierce demanded bench trial. Exercising its discretion under Rule 39(b), district court granted Pierce's May 13, 2013, letter motion to withdraw his waiver and reinstate his jury trial demand. It rejected his claim that its impartiality as a fact-finder was compromised by disclosures at a May 13 settlement conference. However, the court found that given Pierce's discomfort with a bench trial, ABC's vacillating demands for bench and jury trials, and the jury trial right protections in Rules 38 and 39, Pierce's request to withdraw his waiver were reasonable. In finding defendants not prejudiced in holding a jury trial now, the court noted that when they last demanded a jury trial on April 30, 2013, defendants were not then bothered by the costs of trial or the potential disruption to their business.

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