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Montoya v. 3Pd, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Arizona

July 9, 2014

Dennis Montoya, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
3PD, Inc., The Home Depot, Inc., et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

STEPHEN M. McNAMEE, Senior District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendant's, Home Depot, Inc., motion for summary judgement and accompanying statement of facts, which is fully briefed.[1] (Docs. 89-90, 98-104.) Plaintiff Dennis Montoya ("Montoya") is a delivery driver who claims that Defendants 3PD, Inc. ("3PD") and Home Depot, Inc. ("Home Depot") misclassified him as an independent contractor and violated both the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") and Arizona law. Montoya, who has a contract with 3PD through his limited liability company Big Dog Trucking & Material Handling, LLC ("Big Dog"), claims that Home Depot was his joint employer and is also liable. Home Depot contests the joint employer designation, and moves for summary judgment. The Court will grant summary judgment in favor of Home Depot as there is no genuine dispute to material fact; Home Depot is not Montoya's joint employer as a matter of law.[2]

BACKGROUND

Home Depot has a contract with 3PD for 3PD to provide truck drivers for delivery service of its goods; this delivery service is also known as "last-mile transportation services." (Doc. 90 at 2; Doc. 99 at 2.) 3PD in turn negotiates and contracts with drivers to make deliveries for Home Depot. (Doc. 90 at 2-3.) Montoya, through Big Dog, began working for 3PD in March 2005 (Doc. 90-7 at 52) and continued to do so until January 2012 (Id. at 49). During this time Montoya performed delivery services for Home Depot through Big Dog and made deliveries for other companies and people as well. (Id. at 125.)

Montoya was trained by 3PD employees in a Home Depot parking lot. (Id. at 67.) In addition, Home Depot employees spent, in Montoya's estimation, thirty minutes or less explaining to him their procedures for delivery. (Id. at 76.) Information conveyed included how to obtain delivery paperwork, where to park the delivery truck, and where to pick up the merchandise Montoya was to deliver. (Id. at 75.)

Home Depot maintained its own in-house "delivery coordinator" at its stores. (Doc. 99-5 at 9.) The delivery coordinator was tasked with ensuring that deliveries were made when customers expected them. (Id.) Part of this job included staying in contact with drivers throughout the day as they made deliveries. (Id. at 12.)

Montoya's delivery truck was leased from 3PD (Doc. 90-7 at 177) but carried Home Depot decals on its doors (Doc. 99-2 at 68). In addition, Montoya wore a uniform provided by 3PD that included both 3PD and Home Depot's logos on his shirt. (Doc. 90-7 at 177.)

Montoya stopped making deliveries for Home Depot in January 2012. (Doc. 90-7 at 8, 13.)

STANDARD OF REVIEW

I. Summary Judgment

In a summary judgment motion, the court construes all disputed facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Ellison v. Robertson , 357 F.3d 1072, 1075 (9th Cir. 2004). A court must grant summary judgment if the pleadings and supporting documents, viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Jesinger v. Nevada Fed. Credit Union , 24 F.3d 1127, 1130 (9th Cir. 1994). A dispute about a fact is "genuine" if the evidence is "such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby , 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); see Jesinger , 24 F.3d at 1130. "Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson , 477 U.S. at 248.

The principal purpose of summary judgment is "to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims." Celotex , 477 U.S. at 323-24. Summary judgment is appropriate against a party who "fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Id. at 322; see also Citadel Holding Corp. v. Roven , 26 F.3d 960, 964 (9th Cir. 1994). The moving party need not disprove matters on which the opponent has the burden of proof at trial. See Celotex , 477 U.S. at 323-24. The party opposing summary judgment need not produce evidence "in a form that would be admissible at trial in order to avoid summary judgment." Id. at 324. However, the non-movant may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of the party's pleadings, but must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp. , 475 U.S. 574, 585-88 (1986); Brinson v. Linda Rose Joint Venture , 53 F.3d 1044, 1049 (9th Cir. 1995).

II. Fair Labor Standards Act

The Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") was passed by Congress in 1938 to promote the well-being of workers. Torres-Lopez v. May , 111 F.3d 633, 638 (9th Cir. 1997) (citing 29 U.S.C. § 202(a)). The FLSA employed a variety of means to do so, including setting minimum wage and maximum hour requirements. Id . (citing 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219).

The FLSA broadly defines employer-employee relationships that are subject to its provisions. Torres-Lopez , 111 F.3d at 638 (citing Rutherford Food Corp. v. McComb , 331 U.S. 722, 728 (1947)). The FLSA provides that an employer "includes any person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee..." Bonnette v. California Health & Welfare Agency , 704 F.2d 1465, 1469 (9th Cir. 1983) (quoting 29 U.S.C. § 203(d)), overruled on other grounds, Garcia v. San Antonio Metro. Transit. Auth. , 469 U.S. 528, 538 (1985). Joint employment under the FLSA is not precluded, as "a single individual may stand in the relation of an employee to two or more employers at the same time..." Torres-Lopez , 111 F.3d at 638 (citing and quoting 29 C.F.R. § 791.2(a)). All joint employers are individually responsible for compliance with the FLSA. Bonnette , 704 F.2d at 1469 (citing 29 C.F.R. § 791.2(a) (1981)).

DISCUSSION

A. Joint Employment


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