First, unlike the Age Discrimination Employment Act (ADEA), cited by plaintiffs as modeled after the FLSA, the FLSA does not vest jurisdiction in a particular court. The relevant portion of the ADEA provides that "any person aggrieved may bring a civil action in any Federal district court of competent jursdiction . . ." 29 U.S.C. § 633a(c) (1982) (emphasis added). The FLSA does not so specify a particular court in which an FLSA claim may be brought.
Second, the legislative history of the FLSA amendments of 1966, which added the "any court of competent jurisdiction" language quoted above, indicates that the purpose for adding that language was not to supplant the Tucker Act, but rather to allow state and local employees to bring FLSA claims in federal court. 1974 U.S. Code Cong. & Ad.News at 2811, 2853 (1974).
Third, the language of the Tucker Act is all-inclusive: Any civil action or claim against the United States . . . founded on any Act of Congress. Absent a specific Congressional grant of jurisdiction in a particular court, as in the ADEA, the Tucker Act applies to any claim brought against the United States.
For these reasons, jurisdiction for claims to recover compensation from the United States for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act rests in the federal courts by virtue of the Tucker Act.
B. Is Venue Proper under the Tucker Act ?
The venue section of the Tucker Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1402(a) provides that, where the plaintiff is an individual, venue is proper only in the judicial district in which the plaintiff resides. That section does not cover a situation, like the one at bar, where there are multiple plaintiffs who do not all live in the same district. Thus, the issue before the court is whether the court should hold that venue is not proper in this district or any other district since not all of the plaintiffs in this case reside in one district.
That issue was recently addressed in Davila v. Weinberger, 600 F. Supp. 599 (D.D.C.1985). There, Judge Hogan held that where all of the plaintiffs do not live in a single judicial district, venue is not proper in any district, and the claim must be brought in the Court of Claims. The opinion in that case was based on the need to avoid forum shopping.
More generally, the Supreme Court addressed the problem of venue statutes whose effect is to deprive any court of jurisdiction, the problem of so-called "venue gaps". In Brunette Machine Works Ltd. v. Kockum Industries, Inc., 406 U.S. 706, 92 S. Ct. 1936, 32 L. Ed. 2d 428 (1972), the issue before the Court was whether the specific patent infringement venue statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1402(a) (providing that venue was where the defendant resides or where he committed the infringement and where he has a regular place of business), meant that there was no proper venue in a patent infringement suit against an alien corporation which neither was a resident of the United States nor had a regular place of business here. The court held that the general venue provision relating to aliens, 28 U.S.C. § 1391(d) (providing that aliens can be sued in any district), prevailed despite the specific trade infringement venue statute.
Unlike Burnette, where the effect of the applicable venue provision meant that no court had jurisdiction, the venue provision here would permit jurisdiction in the Court of Claims. Thus, this court holds that there is no "venue gap" under the Tucker Act. Therefore, non-District of Columbia plaintiffs must bring their claims before the Court of Claims, and this court will grant defendant's motion to transfer those claims to that court. Venue is proper, however, to District of Columbia plaintiffs; their claims may remain here.
C. Does this Court have Jurisdiction over all the Plaintiffs' Claims ?
The defendants also argue that this court has no subject matter jurisdiction since not all of the opt-in plaintiffs have expressly waived their right to recover more than $10,000. However, the complaint filed in the case seeks damages and monetary relief "not in excess of $10,000" for each plaintiff on each of the four separate claims. By opting-in to this action, plaintiffs are bound by the complaint's limitation on the amount of damages claimed, and thus the court has subject matter jurisdiction over any District of Columbia plaintiffs.
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