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Hill v. B. Frank Joy, LLC

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 9, 2016

HARRY HILL, On behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
B. FRANK JOY, LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          THEODORE D. CHUANG United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Harry Hill has filed suit against Defendant B. Frank Joy, LLC (“B. Frank Joy”), alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-19 (2012); the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law (“MWPCL”), Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. §§ 3-501 to 3-509 (2016); and the Maryland Wage and Hour Law (“MWHL”), Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. §§ 3-401 to 3-431. Pending before the Court is B. Frank Joy’s Motion for Summary Judgment. The Motion is fully briefed and ripe for disposition. No hearing is necessary to resolve the issues. See D. Md. Local R. 105.6. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         The following facts are presented in the light most favorable to Hill, the nonmoving party:

         I. Hill’s Employment

         B. Frank Joy is a construction company that works in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. From May 5, 2014 to August 28, 2014, B. Frank Joy employed Hill as a driver. Hill drove dump trucks carrying equipment, materials, and workers from B. Frank Joy’s construction yard in Hyattsville, Maryland to various job sites in the Washington, D.C. region. About 70 percent of Hill’s trips were to and from job sites in the District of Columbia. B. Frank Joy usually required Hill to leave the construction yard with his cargo by 7:30 a.m. and to arrive at that facility up to one hour before that departure time. Before leaving, Hill and his co-workers would spend between 15 and 90 minutes loading the dump truck, attending meetings, and performing other tasks. Upon returning to the yard at the end of the day, they would spend 15 to 45 minutes unloading the truck.

         According to Hill, B. Frank Joy owns approximately 45 trucks. About 15 are dump trucks, each with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating and unladen weight in excess of 10, 000 pounds. Most of the remaining vehicles are pickup trucks and vans, which weigh less than 10, 000 pounds. Hill possesses a Maryland Class A commercial driver’s license, which authorizes him to drive vehicles weighing more than 10, 000 pounds. B. Frank Joy’s records show that Hill drove three different dump trucks over the course of his employment. Those records contain no indication that he ever drove a pickup truck or van. Hill does not claim to have driven a pickup truck or van for B. Frank Joy. Instead, he asserts that operating pickup trucks and vans was among his potential duties as a B. Frank Joy driver and that every B. Frank Joy driver is required to drive all of B. Frank Joy’s vehicles “at some point.” Pl.’s Resp. Mot. Summ. J. (“Resp.”) Ex. A, Hill Decl. ¶ 9.

         B. Frank Joy paid Hill $18 per hour. Hill claims that B. Frank Joy did not compensate him for time spent loading and unloading dump trucks at the beginning and end of each workday and that B. Frank Joy often only paid drivers for an hour of driving time each day, even though it often took longer to travel between the yard and job sites. Hill asserts that construction workers and laborers were not paid for loading, unloading, or any travel time. He also complains that B. Frank Joy did not record employees’ work time accurately. Instead of using timecards, foremen would report employees’ work time, even though foremen were often not present for the entire workday. B. Frank Joy also had a policy of rounding employees’ work time down to the nearest half hour. In addition, although Hill received some overtime pay, he asserts that he was not paid all of the overtime to which he was entitled.

         II. Procedural History

         On April 20, 2015, Hill filed a two-count Complaint, alleging in Count I that B. Frank Joy failed to pay Hill and a class of B. Frank Joy drivers, construction workers, and laborers regular and overtime wages owed under the FLSA, and in Count II that B. Frank Joy failed to pay regular wages under the MWPCL and overtime wages under the MWHL.[1] On June 9, 2015, B. Frank Joy submitted an Answer. On September 3, 2015, at the parties’ behest, the Court issued a Revised Scheduling Order bifurcating this case into two phases. During the first phase, of which the pending Motion is a part, the parties are addressing FLSA collective action and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 class certification issues as well as the merits of Hill’s individual claims. The second phase, if necessary, will involve post-certification, class-related fact and expert discovery.

         On January 28, 2016, Hill filed an Amended Complaint. The Amended Complaint added allegations that B. Frank Joy’s method for rounding employees’ work time denied employees compensation to which they were entitled by statute. On February 11, 2016, B. Frank Joy submitted an Amended Answer. On February 23, 2016, B. Frank Joy filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. On April 19, 2016, Hill submitted a Response to the Motion. On May 9, 2016, B. Frank Joy filed a Reply memorandum.

         DISCUSSION

         In its Motion for Summary Judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, B. Frank Joy argues that it was not required to pay Hill overtime because he was subject to the Motor Carrier Act exception to the overtime provisions of the FLSA and the MWHL. B. Frank Joy also asserts that it is entitled to summary judgment on Hill’s FLSA claim because his pay was above the minimum wage. Hill contends that he is entitled to overtime pay. Although he concedes that his pay exceeded the minimum wage, he argues that the FLSA and the MWPCL still entitle him to compensation for all hours worked. Hill further asserts that he has a claim for unpaid wages under the District of Columbia Minimum Wage Act (“DCMWA”), D.C. Code §§ 32-1001 to 32-1015 (2016), such that if the Court rejects his individual claims, he should be allowed to substitute another individual as the named plaintiff or amend his pleading to add the DCMWA claim.

         I. Legal Standard

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), the Court grants summary judgment if the moving party demonstrates 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. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). In assessing the Motion, the Court views the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, with all justifiable inferences drawn in its favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). The Court may rely only on facts supported in the record, not simply assertions in the pleadings. Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 522 (4th Cir. 2003). The nonmoving party has the burden to show a genuine dispute on a material fact. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). A fact is “material” if it “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. A dispute of material fact is only “genuine” if sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party exists for the trier of fact to return a verdict for that party. Id. at 248-49.

         II. ...


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