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PARKS v. PUCKETT

September 27, 1957

ADDILEE PARKS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
W.S. PUCKETT AND TWILA PUCKETT, DOING BUSINESS AS PROCTOR POTATO CHIP COMPANY, A PARTNERSHIP, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John E. Miller, District Judge.

  Findings of Fact

1.

The plaintiff is a citizen of the State of Arkansas and resides near the City of Rogers, Arkansas. The defendants are each citizens of Arkansas residing in the City of Rogers, Arkansas. This is an action by the plaintiff to recover unpaid minimum wages and overtime compensation allegedly due her by defendants under the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

2.

The defendant, W.S. Puckett, was the owner of the business known as Proctor Potato Chip Company located in the City of Rogers, Arkansas. The defendant, Twila Puckett, is the wife of W.S. Puckett and occasionally assisted him in the operation of the company, but had no ownership therein.

The principal business of the Proctor Potato Chip Company was the manufacture and distribution of potato chips. In addition, however, the company also distributed pickles, salad dressing, mustard, pork skins, corn sticks, and similar items.

Most of the ingredients for the potato chips were purchased from other states and shipped into the State of Arkansas. All the pickles, pork skins, and other items were purchased from producers in other states and shipped to the defendant's place of business in the State of Arkansas. The defendant company sold the potato chips and the various other items to stores, schools, and retail establishments in three counties in northwest Arkansas. The defendant, W.S. Puckett, and his employee, B.B. Bland, each called on the customers and when a sale was made the article was simultaneously delivered. In all there were approximately 350 retail establishments in the said three counties. One of the defendant company's customers was located within a short distance of the Missouri state line, and another of said customers was located within three miles of the Oklahoma state line. Puckett and Bland each operated a truck and in the mornings they would load their trucks with a sufficient quantity of potato chips, pork skins, etc., for that particular day. They would go into the various stores, look at the racks to see if additional items were needed, and advise the store owner of his requirements. The merchandise was paid for in cash.

During the two years in question, 1955 and 1956, the customers of the defendant company remained fairly constant, and there was very little change in the volume of business done with the various stores.

3.

The plaintiff, Addilee Parks, and three other women were responsible for the manufacture and packaging of the potato chips. The various jobs or duties were rotated and in general consisted of frying the potatoes in vegetable oil; salting, weighing, sacking, and packing the potato chips in pasteboard boxes.

4.

In addition to her duties with respect to manufacturing and packing the potato chips, plaintiff also did some cleaning or janitorial work in the rooms where the potato chips were cooked and sacked, and occasionally she did some cleaning work in the room in which the pickles, corn sticks, and similar items were stored. Occasionally plaintiff would roll an empty cooking-oil barrel approximately forty feet from where it had been placed near the cooker to the back door of the building. And on approximately 19 occasions the plaintiff signed receipts for cooking oil or salad dressing which was being delivered to the defendant company by Jones Truck Lines or by Arkansas Motor Freight Lines. It was actually the duty of Mrs. Ruth Morris, Foreman, to sign the receipts, but when she was busy she would request the plaintiff to sign the receipts for her when delivery had been made.

5.

The receipts referred to in Finding of Fact No. 4 were for cooking oil and salad dressing which had been shipped from St. Louis, Missouri, to the defendant company in Rogers, Arkansas. The oil was shipped in 55-gallon barrels and would be delivered to the defendant company by Jones Truck Lines or Arkansas Motor Freight Lines. The trucker would unload the barrels and place them in the room where the cooker was located or in a storage room nearby. He would then have someone sign a receipt for the oil, and as above stated on 19 occasions the plaintiff signed such receipts. Plaintiff did not actually check to ascertain whether all the merchandise had been delivered.

Sometimes there would be as many as ten barrels of oil in the store room, since the defendant, W.S. Puckett, would buy extra oil when the price was lower.

The plaintiff and other employees used a pump to pump the oil into the cooker, and oil was used out of each barrel until it was empty. Then the pump would be changed to another barrel. During the two years in question the defendant company used approximately 1½ barrels of cooking oil each week.

After the barrels were empty the employees would roll the empty barrels out the back door, and as above stated the plaintiff occasionally rolled an empty barrell to the back door to make room for the placing of a full barrel alongside the cooker. The empty barrels weighed approximately 40 to 50 pounds and were fairly easy to handle. After the barrels were rolled out the back door they remained there until they were picked up by Jones Truck Lines or Arkansas Motor Freight Lines and returned to St. Louis, Missouri. Some of the barrels were disposed of locally but apparently a majority of them were returned to St. Louis. The evidence did not disclose what the agreement was, if any, between the defendant company and the seller in St. Louis with respect to the ownership of the barrels or the credit, if any, given by the seller to the defendant company for returning said barrels. The truck lines had no specific schedule for picking up the barrels, and sometimes they would not go to the defendant company's place of business for as long as four weeks.

6.

The employees had no fixed hours of work. They usually arrived in the morning sometime between 7:00 and 8:00 o'clock, and quit work whenever they completed the requirements of that particular day. The plaintiff ordinarily took from 10 to 20 minutes for lunch. From all the evidence it appears that if plaintiff was entitled to receive the minimum wage and overtime provided by the Fair Labor Standards Act, she has been underpaid the sum of $2,000 for the period in question.

7.

On October 5, 1956, the defendant company was investigated by the Wage and Hour investigators, and subsequent to that investigation the defendant, W.S. Puckett, asked the plaintiff to discontinue receipting for merchandise and to discontinue rolling the empty barrels out the back door.

8.

Mr. and Mrs. Puckett spent very little time at the defendant company's place of business. Most of Mr. Puckett's time was spent calling on customers, and Mrs. Puckett only worked intermittently. When they were gone Mrs. Morris was in charge of the operation.

9.

All the merchandise sold by the defendant company was sold in the State of Arkansas.

Some of the items would remain in defendant's place of business for as long as six or eight ...


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