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Posted July 10, 2012 | comments 1 Comment

Judge deals setback in deputy lawsuit

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

A federal judge dealt a setback to dozens of current and former deputies who claim Frederick County cheated them out of overtime pay.

The nearly 60 plaintiffs sued Frederick County and the Sheriff's Office in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg in April. The complaint alleges the county violated a provision of Virginia code requiring law enforcement agents receive "gap pay" for time worked beyond a certain number of hours.

U.S. District Judge Michael F. Urbanski on Monday during a telephone conference with attorneys for the parties granted a defense motion in part but also denied the request in part. Leesburg attorneys Harold R. Showers and Timothy Paul Bosson made an oral motion at the hearing to file an amended complaint.

The county and County Administrator John R. Riley Jr., represented by Salem attorney Jim H. Guynn Jr., sought a motion to dismiss the suit on the grounds the plaintiffs failed to state a claim upon which the court could grant relief. Guynn argued the plaintiffs failed to show they followed state law. Furthermore the plaintiffs failed to comply with state code by not making its claims to the Board of Supervisors, which also has adjudicated no claims from the plaintiffs, the defense motion states.

Urbanski granted the defense motion in part with regard to the plaintiffs' state-law claim for unpaid overtime compensation because they failed to show they followed the statutory requirements of Virginia code.

Urbanski denied the defense motion in part with regard to the plaintiffs' Fair Labor Standards Act claim and the argument that the county and its administrator are not the employers of the plaintiffs, according to the order. The court found that the plaintiffs have "adequately plead their employment relationship with the county and county administrator and that the issue of whether the county and county administrator are the employers of plaintiffs must be addressed at the summary judgment stage of the litigation," the order states.

Also at the hearing Urbanski denied a motion to a stay filed on behalf of the Sheriff's Office and Sheriff Robert T. Williamson, named as respondents in the lawsuit. Urbanski states no reason for the denial in his order filed with the court Tuesday.

The judge granted the plaintiffs leave to amend their complaint on or before July 24 in order for them to "adequately allege compliance with the statutory requirements" of the state code. Defendants shall have 14 days to file any motions or answers to the amended complaint. Urbanski set the next hearing for Aug. 28.

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