U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Interpretation — Agency Deference
Ramos et al. v. Simplex Grinnell LP
Judges Calabresi, Livingston and chin
Background: The plaintiffs appealed from the grant of summary judgment in favor the defendant on breach of contract claims arising from its alleged failure to pay the plaintiffs prevailing wages for testing and inspection work they performed. The plaintiffs installed, maintained, repaired, tested and inspected fire alarm and suppression systems for the defendant. At issue was the interpretation of both the contract between the parties and the New York State Department of Labor’s interpretation of Section 220 of the Labor Law and how it applied to the type of work performed.
Ruling: The Second Circuit certified the question to the New York State Court of Appeals. The court reasoned that New York courts have not made clear whether such work is covered under the New York Labor Law, or whether an agency interpretation, covering such work prospectively only, determines whether it applied during the period covered in the underlying litigation.
Raymond C. Fay of Mehri & Skalet for the plaintiffs-appellants; Edward Cerasia, II of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart for the defendants-appellees