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Home / Case Digests / 00-1663Luder v. Endicott

00-1663Luder v. Endicott

“The plaintiffs are seeking to accomplish exactly what they would accomplish were they allowed to maintain this suit against the state and did so successfully: they are seeking to force the state to accede to their view of the Act and to pay them accordingly. Nominally, it is true, they are seeking damages merely for a period beginning three years before they filed their suit and presumably ending on the day a judgment is entered in their favor. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. And not a small tip either. The amount sought is unclear (indeed cannot be determined exactly until the judgment is entered), but it obviously exceeds the ability of these four defendants to pay (remember there are 145 plaintiffs), unless persons of great family wealth are more attracted to prison employment than strikes us as likely. It will thus not be an option for the state to indemnify them. If it refuses to indemnify them, they will have only two choices. One will be to declare bankruptcy and quit; the other will be to declare bankruptcy and comply with the FLSA as interpreted by the court by directing payment of additional wages (assuming the plaintiffs’ suit is found to have merit). Compliance will not involve their paying the plaintiffs for before-shift and after-shift work. These defendants are not going to pay a chunk of the prison’s wages out of their own shallow pockets. The state will have to pay. If it refuses to pay, the plaintiffs will bring a fresh suit against the defendants – but before that happens, upon the first inkling that the state will not be paying the wages to which the plaintiffs have been adjudged entitled, the defendants will quit their jobs lest they be faced with another crushing judgment. Thus, whether or not the state indemnifies these supervisory employees, these FLSA ’employers,’ it will, if the present suit is allowed to go forward to judgment for the plaintiffs, be forced to pay the plaintiffs the additional wages they seek. The effect will be identical to a suit against the state. The money will flow from the state treasury to the plaintiffs. This is not hypothetical, but inescapable; and it is not a scenario found in any of the cases that have rejected Eleventh Amendment challenges to individual-capacity suits.”

Reversed.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, Crabb, J., Posner, J.


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