Ill. Court Denies Coal Mines’ Motion to Dismiss Class Action Labor Lawsuit

On Monday, the Southern District of Illinois issued an order denying Alliance Coal and its subsidiaries motion to deny the coal miner plaintiffs’ complaint in Cates v. Alliance Coal, LLC et al.

According to the motion, Rickey Cates filed the class action lawsuit against Alliance Coal, LLC, Alliance Resource Partners, L.P., Alliance Resources Operating Partners, L.P., Alliance Resource Management GP, LLC, (The Alliance Defendants) Hamilton County Coal, LLC and White County Coal, LLC. Further, the complaint states that the Alliance defendants own and control each of the subsidiary defendants, Hamilton County Coal and White County Coal, and established and directed their employment policies and procedures. 

On April 9, 2021, Cates filed the lawsuit on behalf of himself and miners who worked in mine complexes owned and operated by Hamilton County Coal and White County Coal. The complaint alleged that the defendants violated of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Illinois Minimum Wage Law, and Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act.

Specifically, the plaintiffs allege that the defendants unlawfully failed to pay its miners for off-the-clock work, overtime, and non-discretionary bonuses despite the miners being non-exempt employees. The order states that the off-the-clock work included attending meetings, and dressing protective gear and the bonuses included attendance incentive bonus and production and safety bonus.

The Alliance Defendants responded by filing a motion to dismiss arguing that the plaintiffs lacked personal jurisdiction and failed to state a claim leading to the present order. In the order, the court denied the defendants’ motion regarding both their personal jurisdiction and failure to state a claim argument. 

The court held that it had personal jurisdiction over the Alliance defendants due to their ownership and operation of Hamilton County Coal and White County Coal which are located in Illinois. Further, the court held that the plaintiffs adequately plead allegations sufficient enough  to establish an employment agreement. 

The plaintiffs are represented by Lynch Carpenter LLP, and the defendants are represented by Seyfarth Shaw LLP and Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC.