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Abel v. Bridgeway Advantage Solutions Inc.

United States District Court, D. Arizona

January 10, 2019

Eddie Abel, Plaintiff,
v.
Bridgeway Advantage Solutions Incorporated, et al., Defendants. Covenant Consumer Direct LLC, Third-Party Plaintiff,
v.
Destry Rogers, Third-Party Defendant.

          ORDER

          G. Murray Snow Chief United States District Judge

         Pending before the Court are the Motions for Summary Judgment of Defendants Covenant Consumer Direct LLC (Doc. 71) and Bridgeway Advantage Solutions Inc. (Doc. 73).[1] For the following reasons both motions are granted.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Eddie Abel lives with and cares for Destry Rogers, his significant other. Rogers has a physical handicap and requires help with many daily tasks and activities. Abel provides that help, and during the period relevant to this action he was compensated for some of his work through a program established under the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System Administration (“AHCCCS”), Arizona's Medicaid program. Defendant Bridgeway Advantage Solutions is a managed care organization (“MCO”) and contracted with the AHCCCS to coordinate services for individuals who qualify for the Arizona Long Term Care Services program.

         Defendant Covenant Consumer Direct (“CCD”) works with MCOs like Bridgeway to provide services to AHCCCS recipients. CCD provides three models of care. The first model is the traditional agency-based model. In this model, CCD employs the caregiver and takes care of recruiting, hiring, firing, and training. It supervises the certification, training and performance of the caregiver. These caregivers are referred to as “direct-care workers” (“DCW”).

         The second model is the “agency with choice” model-a co-employment model. In this model the AHCCCS member (i.e., the person receiving care) is the co-employer of the caregiver. The member has the power to dismiss the caregiver-they can terminate their responsibilities to the member but cannot terminate the caregiver's employment. Wages are determined and paid by CCD.

         The third model is the “self-directed attendant care” (“SDAC”) model and is entirely self-directed by the member. This model provides the greatest flexibility for members and allows them to hire their own family members or friends as their caregiver. The member is the employer of the “attendant care worker” (“ACW”). CCD works with the member as a “fiscal employer agent” to handle things like payroll services. The member sets the ACW's wage from a range of state-established pay rates. The member recruits, hires, trains, and fires the ACW. CCD must authorize an “Okay to Work Form” before the ACW can begin work and issues paychecks to the ACW based on the number of work hours authorized by the MCO and verified by the member. The ACW chooses the method of payment. CCD, in turn, is compensated on a per-member basis from MCOs like Bridgeway. That payment rate does not depend on the number of hours the caregiver works in a given month.

         During the period relevant to this case, Rogers participated in some of these programs. She hired Abel, her significant other, as her caregiver through an agency called ResCare in late 2014. The next year, Rogers switched to CCD. Working with her Bridgeway case manager, Rogers developed a Plan of Care to meet her care needs. The Plan set forth the services that Rogers indicated she needed. Bridgeway qualified her for thirty-two hours of paid care per week and authorized payment for those hours. If Rogers felt that she needed additional care beyond what was outlined in the Plan, she could ask Bridgeway to approve the extra hours for that week. She also had the ability to request an increase of hours per week for which she qualified, and she did so on multiple occasions. There is no evidence that Rogers ever appealed a denial of those requests through the appropriate administrative channels.[2]

         Rogers initially signed a service agreement with CCD on March 15, 2015 (the “March Agreement”). The March Agreement was for either CCD's first or second care models, in which Abel would be employed as a DCW by CCD to care for Rogers. (Doc. 82-1 at 3-6). Less than six weeks later, on April 30, however, Rogers signed up for the SDAC program when she learned that she would be able to pay Abel a higher wage under that program. She signed a Self-Directed Attendant Care Agreement with Abel, outlining the employer-employee relationship that would exist with Abel working as Roger's ACW. (Doc. 72 at 196-97). Rogers and Abel also signed a Wage Memo, setting his pay at $10.90 per hour for a maximum of up to the thirty-two hours per work for which Rogers was authorized to receive reimbursed care under the AHCCCS program.

         Rogers also signed a Self-Directed Attendant Care Agreement, (id. at 199), and Fiscal and Employer Agency Services and Employer of Record Agreement. (Id. at 200- 04). Both documents outlined Rogers' responsibilities as Abel's employer and CCD's limited role in that relationship. CCD's responsibilities included providing an initial training packet, dispensing payment to Abel on a bi-weekly schedule according to hours approved by Rogers, providing worker's compensation as directed by state law, and various payroll functions. (Id. at 202). As part of those agreements, Rogers acknowledged that she was responsible for “payment of any wages and expenses that exceed the amount authorized in [her] authorized plan, are the result of overtime worked by the ACW, or are the result of overlap of services-two ACWs working at the same time.” (Id. at 201). By signing the Employee Agreement, Abel acknowledged that “I understand that Covenant Consumer Direct is not financially responsible for payment of services I provide to the Member in situations where: . . . [t]he Member/PR allows me to work overtime (hours in excess of 40 per week unless approved in advance by Covenant Consumer Direct).” (Doc. 72 at 197).

         Between 2015 and 2018, Abel worked as Rogers' ACW and was compensated by CCD for the authorized hours per week that he worked. There are no allegations or evidence that Abel was not paid for the number of approved hours so long as he worked that many hours and timely submitted the proper documentation to CCD. During this period, Rogers and Abel informed Bridgeway that Abel was working in excess of forty hours per week caring for Rogers and asked that he be compensated for at least forty hours instead of only thirty-two. In 2018 Bridgeway increased Rogers' authorized hours per week from thirty-two to forty.

         In spring 2018, Abel underwent shoulder surgery and was unable to work. Rogers had some difficulty locating a replacement ACW under CCD's program, and her new MCO, United Healthcare, helped her find another service provider. United then sent CCD a closure authorization because it had transferred Rogers' in-home care services to another agency. Pursuant to that direction from United, CCD ended its services to Rogers, and no longer dispensed payment to Abel.

         Abel then filed this action, alleging that he worked hours of overtime every week for which he was not compensated by CCD or Bridgeway. He also alleges that CCD and Bridgeway failed to pay him the minimum wage required by both federal and Arizona law.

         For these alleged violations he seeks unpaid overtime wages and compensation for unpaid minimum wages.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Legal Standards

         A principal purpose of summary judgment is “to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). Summary judgment is appropriate if the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, shows “that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit will preclude the entry of summary judgment, and the disputed evidence must be “such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         “[A] party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of [the record] which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. Parties opposing summary judgment are required to “cit[e] to particular parts of materials in the record” establishing a genuine dispute or “show[] that the materials cited do not establish the absence . . . of a genuine dispute.” Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 56(c)(1). If the non-moving party's opposition fails to do so, the court is not required to comb through the record on its own to come up with reasons to deny a motion for summary judgment. See Carmen v. S.F. Unified Sch. Dist., 237 F.3d 1026, 1029 (9th Cir. 2001).

         II. ...


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