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Local

TPI Composites' Newton facility settles class action labor lawsuit

TPI Composites has settled a class action lawsuit with 121 current and former employees at its Newton windblade manufacturing facility who asserted that the company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by requiring plant workers to preform duties off-the-clock.

In a settlement approved by U.S. District Court Judge John A. Jarvey on Sept 4., TPI has agreed to compensate the class with individual payments, service awards and attorney's fees in the amount of $199,500. The named Plaintiffs of Kevin Kendall, Timothy Colby, Brandon Pliler, Toby Mackey Tony Geerlings, Chris Pollard, Norman Davis IV and Gary Motarie also received a total $12,000 in service payments in the case settlement.

The lawsuit was originally filed in April 2011 in Jasper County District Court by Newton residents April Ann Wilcox, Davis and Motarie on behalf of all current and former TPI employees at the company’s Newton facility. The group alleged that on multiple occasions the Scottsdale, Arizona-based company required employees to perform preparatory labor duties, applying sanitary and work safety equipment without compensation. The workers also claimed TPI denied the workers rightful overtime compensation.

The named Defendants in the case, TPI Iowa, LLC and Aventure Staffing and Professional Services, LLC, continue to deny wrong doing in the case, and the settlement agreement states that "the parties recognize the outcome in the lawsuit is uncertain and achieving a final result through litigation requires additional risk, discovery, time and expense."

TPI filed motion in May 2011 moving the case to federal court in Des Moines. The move eliminated the potential of a jury trial. The windblade manufacturer followed with a motion to have the case dismissed entirely. Lawyers for the company claimed the petition filed by Davis did "not contain sufficient factual allegations to show that Plaintiffs are entitled to the relief sought," according to court documents.

TPI also claimed in their dismissal motion that the Plaintiffs did not correctly defined the party in the class action suit.

The second count in the suit, a wrongful termination claim filed individually by Davis, also was moved from county to federal court by TPI last year.

West Des Moines based law firm Hudson Mallaney Shindler & Anderson P.C. began representing Davis in March 2011 and filed a letter of complaint with his TPI supervisors, claiming they had violated the Iowa Wage Payment and Collection Act.

Davis was subsequently terminated on March 24. He employed by TPI for approximately one month, hired in February 2011.

Mike Mendenhall can be contacted at (641) 792-3121 ext. 422 or via email at mmendenhall@newtondailynews.com.

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