The opinion of the court was delivered by: John E. Miller, District Judge.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
From January 3, 1955, until May 4, 1956, plaintiff worked for
the defendant company, receiving as wages $18 per week. From May
4, 1956, until December 21, 1956, she worked for the defendant
company at a salary of $20 per week.
In addition to her salary she received a $10 Christmas bonus in
1955 and a $20 Christmas bonus in 1956. In many weeks she worked
in excess of 40 hours but received no overtime compensation. The
plaintiff attempted to keep records of the hours she worked each
day, but the records she kept were not entirely accurate. The
defendants, W.S. Puckett and Twila Puckett, kept no record of the
hours worked by plaintiff.
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.
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.
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
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 ...