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Stanley v. Quality Caregivers Solution Services LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division

December 5, 2017




         This matter is before the Court on the plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment. (Doc. 38).[1] The defendants have filed a response, (Doc. 40), the plaintiff declined the opportunity to file a reply, (Doc. 39), and the motion is ripe for resolution. After careful consideration, the Court concludes the motion is due to be granted in part and denied in part.


         According to the amended complaint, (Doc. 30), the entity defendant (“Quality”) is in the business of providing home health care and assisted living services. The individual defendant (“Stallworth”) is the owner, operator and/or manager of Quality. Both were the plaintiff's employer for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). The plaintiff was employed by the defendants as a medical assistant and/or caregiver from August 2015 to August 2016.

         Count I alleges that the defendants violated the FLSA's minimum wage requirement by withholding the plaintiff's pay for her final pay period. Count II alleges the defendants violated the FLSA's overtime requirement by treating the plaintiff as an exempt employee even though the exemption on which they rely was eliminated prior to the plaintiff's employment. Under each count, the plaintiff seeks both her actual damages and an equal amount in liquidated damages, as well as an award of attorney's fees and costs. The instant motion addresses only Count II.


         Summary judgment should be granted only if “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). The party seeking summary judgment bears “the initial burden to show the district court, by reference to materials on file, that there are no genuine issues of material fact that should be decided at trial.” Clark v. Coats & Clark, Inc., 929 F.2d 604, 608 (11th Cir. 1991). The moving party may meet its burden in either of two ways: (1) by “negating an element of the non-moving party's claim”; or (2) by “point[ing] to materials on file that demonstrate that the party bearing the burden of proof at trial will not be able to meet that burden.” Id. “Even after Celotex it is never enough simply to state that the non-moving party cannot meet its burden at trial.” Id.; accord Mullins v. Crowell, 228 F.3d 1305, 1313 (11th Cir. 2000); Sammons v. Taylor, 967 F.2d 1533, 1538 (11th Cir. 1992).

         “When the moving party has the burden of proof at trial, that party must show affirmatively the absence of a genuine issue of material fact: it must support its motion with credible evidence ... that would entitle it to a directed verdict if not controverted at trial. [citation omitted] In other words, the moving party must show that, on all the essential elements of its case on which it bears the burden of proof, no reasonable jury could find for the nonmoving party.” United States v. Four Parcels of Real Property, 941 F.2d 1428, 1438 (11th Cir. 1991) (en banc) (emphasis in original); accord Fitzpatrick v. City of Atlanta, 2 F.3d 1112, 1115 (11th Cir. 1993).

         “If the party moving for summary judgment fails to discharge the initial burden, then the motion must be denied and the court need not consider what, if any, showing the non-movant has made.” Fitzpatrick, 2 F.3d at 1116; accord Mullins, 228 F.3d at 1313; Clark, 929 F.2d at 608.

         “If, however, the movant carries the initial summary judgment burden ..., the responsibility then devolves upon the non-movant to show the existence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Fitzpatrick, 2 F.3d at 1116. “If the nonmoving party fails to make ‘a sufficient showing on an essential element of her case with respect to which she has the burden of proof, ' the moving party is entitled to summary judgment.” Clark, 929 F.2d at 608 (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986)) (footnote omitted); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2) (“If a party fails to properly support an assertion of fact or fails to properly address another party's assertion of fact as required by Rule 56(c), the court may … consider the fact undisputed for purposes of the motion ….”).

         In deciding a motion for summary judgment, “[t]he evidence, and all reasonable inferences, must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmovant ….” McCormick v. City of Fort Lauderdale, 333 F.3d 1234, 1243 (11th Cir. 2003). “Therefore, the plaintiff's version of the facts (to the extent supported by the record) controls, though that version can be supplemented by additional material cited by the defendants and not in tension with the plaintiff's version.” Rachel v. City of Mobile, 112 F.Supp.3d 1263, 1274 (S.D. Ala. 2015), aff'd, 633 Fed.Appx. 784 (11th Cir. 2016).

         There is no burden on the Court to identify unreferenced evidence supporting a party's position.[2] Accordingly, the Court limits its review to the exhibits, and to the specific portions of the exhibits, to which the parties have expressly cited. Likewise, “[t]here is no burden upon the district court to distill every potential argument that could be made based upon the materials before it on summary judgment.” Resolution Trust Corp. v. Dunmar Corp., 43 F.3d 587, 599 (11th Cir. 1995); accord Gennusa v. Canova, 748 F.3d 1103, 1116 (11th Cir. 2014). The Court accordingly limits its review to those arguments the parties have expressly advanced.

         The threshold question is whether the plaintiff is covered by the FLSA. That would ordinarily require some analysis but, as she notes, (Doc. 38 at 9), the defendants admit that “there is some overtime owed to Plaintiff, ” (Doc. 38-2 at 6), which necessarily encompasses an admission that the plaintiff is covered by the FLSA. They also admit that Quality “is subject to the FLSA.” (Doc. 30 at 3; Doc. 42 at 2). The defendants offer no response to the plaintiff's showing. Based on the defendants' admissions, the plaintiff is covered by the FLSA.

         FLSA liability for failure to pay overtime extends to an “employer.” 29 U.S.C. § 207(a). An “employer” includes “any person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee ….” Id. § 203(d). The plaintiff asserts that Stallworth qualifies as an employer subject to individual liability. (Doc. 38 at 8-9). The defendants admit that Stallworth is the owner, operator and/or manager of Quality and that she “is in control of the day to day operations of Quality, ” including hiring, firing and payroll. (Doc. 30 at 3-4; Doc. 42 at 2). They also admit that Stallworth is the CEO of Quality and the only person involved in policymaking decisions regarding Quality's method of paying the plaintiff. (Doc. 38-2 at 5). The defendants offer no ...

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