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Cameron v. Avalon Mobility Inc.

United States District Court, D. Arizona

August 21, 2017

Dean G Cameron, Plaintiff,
v.
Avalon Mobility Incorporated, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          James A. Teilborg Senior United States District Judge

         Pending before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 45) and Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 47). The Court now rules on the motions.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On April 14, 2017, Plaintiff filed the pending Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 45). At the Court's request, Defendants filed a Response on May 15, 2017 (Doc. 52). Plaintiff then filed a Reply on May 18, 2017 (Doc. 55).

         On April 14, 2017, Defendants also filed their pending Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 47). At the Court's request, Plaintiff filed a Response on April 28, 2017 (Doc. 49). Defendants then filed a Reply on May 15, 2017 (Doc. 51).

         The Complaint in this case alleges that Defendants violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) for failure and/or refusal to pay overtime to Plaintiff. (Doc. 1).

         A. Undisputed Material Facts

         Defendant Avalon Mobility, Inc., d/b/a Desert Sun Moving (“Avalon Mobility”) is a moving company owned by Defendant Brenda Huffman and organized as a corporation in Arizona with gross income exceeding $500, 000 per year. (Plaintiffs Statement of Facts in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment (“PSOF”), Doc. 46 at ¶¶ 1, 3; Defendants' Response to Plaintiffs Statement of Facts and Controverting Statement of Facts (“DCSOF”), Doc. 53 at ¶¶ 1, 3; Doc. 46-3 at 5-6). Avalon Mobility is headquartered in Tucson, Arizona and maintains an office and warehouse in Phoenix, Arizona. (PSOF at ¶¶ 1; DCSOF at ¶¶ 1). Avalon Mobility and Brenda Huffman (together, “Defendants”) employed Plaintiff Dean Cameron (“Plaintiff) at Defendants' Phoenix location with the title of “Warehouse Manager” from approximately June 13, 2014 to approximately March 4, 2015. (PSOF at ¶¶ 5; DCSOF at ¶¶ 5; Plaintiffs Controverting Statement of Facts in Support of Response to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (“PCSOF”), Doc. 50 at ¶¶ 12).

         Throughout the duration of his employment with Defendants, Plaintiff received a flat weekly salary of $550 regardless of the number of hours that Plaintiff worked each week. (PSOF at ¶¶ 10; DCSOF at ¶¶ 10). Defendants did not use a time clock to maintain an exact record of the hours Plaintiff worked. (PSOF at ¶¶ 16; DCSOF at ¶¶ 16). According to Defendants, Plaintiff spent approximately twenty percent of his time performing manual labor and the remainder of his time operating a forklift in some capacity. (PSOF at ¶¶ 7-8; DCSOF at ¶¶ 7-8). Both parties agree that Plaintiffs duties included “the care, placement, organization, inventory, cataloging, loading, unloading, and damage claims relating to warehoused shipments and maintenance of the [w]arehouse.” (Defendants' Statement of Facts in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment (“DSOF”), Doc. 48 at ¶¶ 23; PCSOF at ¶¶ 23). Plaintiff prepared a resume later found on Defendants' computer, which describes his duties and responsibilities as follows:

• Select product to be distributed for the day.
• Stock incoming product.
• Maintain production rate in a fast paced work environment
• Prepare itinerary for drivers delivery and pickups
• Answering calls from carriers and customers
• Scheduling new deliveries and pack jobs
• Train new employees
• Supervise warehouse employees
• Oversee daily upkeep in warehouse
• Weigh all outbound deliveries
• Prepare paperwork for payroll
• Make inbound deliveries and local moves when short staffed

(DSOF at ¶¶ 26; PCSOF at ¶¶ 26).

         During his employment, Plaintiff, at times, worked with one full-time Warehouse Assistant and one part-time Warehouse Assistant with only partial overlap. (DSOF at ¶¶ 29; PCSOF at ¶¶ 29). Who had oversight responsibility for these employees and whether Plaintiff supervised any others who occasionally performed work in the warehouse is disputed. (DSOF at ¶¶ 29-30; PCSOF at ¶¶ 29-30). During his employment with Defendants, Plaintiff did not “recommend to general management hiring, disciplinary action, or termination of any employee.” (DSOF at ¶¶ 33; PCSOF at ¶¶ 33).

         B. Disputed Material Facts

         1. Plaintiffs Specific Employment and Oversight Duties

         In addition to the undisputed facts outlined above, Plaintiff alleges and Defendants dispute that “Plaintiffs primary duty was operating a forklift.” (PSOF at ¶¶ 9; DCSOF at ¶¶ 9). Alternatively, Defendants allege and Plaintiff dispute that “Plaintiffs primary duty was to manage the warehouse and using the forklift was one of his tools with which to accomplish that.” (DCSOF at ¶¶ 9; PSOF at ¶¶ 9; PCSOF at ¶¶ 23). Defendants rely on Plaintiffs resume as an accurate, if incomplete, description of Plaintiffs employment duties, but Plaintiff disputes that bulleted contents of his resume are an accurate description of his duties. (DSOF at ¶¶ 26; PCSOF at ¶¶ 26).

         Plaintiff further alleges that he did not have supervisory authority over any of Defendants' other employees. (PSOF at ¶¶ 21). Defendants contend that Plaintiff not only supervised one full-time and one part-time warehouse staff member, but also five to eight drivers and helpers who worked in the warehouse at various times. (DCSOF at ¶¶ 21). Defendants also contend and Plaintiff disputes that Plaintiff had the authority and duty to make personnel recommendations to management-including the need to hire or terminate staff -but the need to make such recommendations never arose during Plaintiff's employment. (DSOF at ¶¶ 30, 32; PCSOF at ¶¶ 30, 32).

         2. Plaintiff's Work Schedule

         Plaintiff also alleges and Defendants dispute that Plaintiff worked over forty hours nearly every week of his employment with Defendants. (PSOF at ¶¶ 11; DCSOF at ¶¶ 11). Defendants maintain that Plaintiff's work schedule was Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. (less one hour for lunch) and every other Saturday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., totalling forty or forty-six hours per week (DCSOF at ¶¶ 13). Plaintiff provides that his work schedule was Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. and every other Saturday from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. for an estimated fifty-five or sixty-one hours per week. (PSOF at ¶¶ 14-16; Doc. 46-1 at 7-8). Defendants dispute that this calculation is a “good faith” attempt to estimate hours worked because Plaintiff did not account for any days where he did not work at all, such as holidays or sick days. (DCSOF at ¶¶ 11, 22).

         II. SUMMARY JUDGEMENT STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate when “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support that assertion by . . . citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits, or declarations, stipulations . . . admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials, ” or by “showing that materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.” Id. 56(c)(1)(A), (B). Thus, summary judgment is mandated “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.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

         Initially, the movant bears the burden of demonstrating to the Court the basis for the motion and the elements of the cause of action upon which the non-movant will be unable to establish a genuine issue of material fact. Id. at 323. The burden then shifts to the non-movant to establish the existence of material fact. Id. A material fact is any factual issue that may affect the outcome of the case under the governing substantive law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The non-movant “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts” by “com[ing] forward with ‘specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). 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. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. at 248 (1986). The non-movant's bare assertions, standing alone, are insufficient to create a material issue of fact and defeat a motion for summary judgment. Id. at 247-48. However, in the summary judgment context, 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).

         At the summary judgment stage, the Court's role is to determine whether there is a genuine issue available for trial. There is no issue for trial unless there is sufficient evidence in favor of the non-moving party for a jury to return a verdict for the non-moving party. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. at 249-50. “If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted.” Id. (citations omitted).

         III. FLSA OVERTIME REQUIREMENTS

         The FLSA generally requires employers to pay employees one and one-half times their regular hourly rate of pay for hours worked in excess of forty per week (“overtime”). 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1). The FLSA creates a private cause of action for an employee against his employer to recover unpaid overtime wages and back pay “[i]f a covered employee is not paid the statutory wage.” Quinonez v. Reliable Auto Glass, LLC, No. CV-12-000452-PHX-GMS, 2012 WL 2848426, at *1-2 (D. Ariz. July 11, 2012) (citing Josendis v. Wall to Wall Residence Repairs, Inc., 662 F.3d 1292, 1298 (11th Cir. 2011)). An FLSA claim includes the following three elements: (1) Plaintiff was employed by Defendants during the relevant time period; (2) Plaintiff was a covered employee; and (3) Defendants failed to pay Plaintiff overtime pay during the relevant time period. Id. at *2 (citations omitted). Anyone “employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity, ” however, is exempt from overtime pay requirements by the FLSA. 29 U.S.C. § 213(a)(1).

         A. Defendants were Plaintiff's Employers

         Under the FLSA, an “employer” includes “any person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee.” 29 U.S.C. § 203(d). Characteristics of an employer can include the power or responsibility to: (1) hire and fire employees, (2) supervise and control employee work schedules, (3) determine rates of compensation, and (4) maintain employment records. See Hale v. State, 993 F.2d 1387, 1394 (9th Cir. 1993). Here, both Avalon Mobility and Brenda Huffman, as the owner and President of Avalon Mobility, exercised those powers and responsibilities over Plaintiff. (PSOF at ΒΆΒΆ 2-4; ...


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