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Rasberry v. Columbia County

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, El Dorado Division

April 11, 2018

MICHELLE RASBERRY, individually and on Behalf of Others Similarly Situated; KUMESHA WARD; JACOB CAIN; and JOHNNY HAYNES PLAINTIFFS
v.
COLUMBIA COUNTY, ARKANSAS DEFENDANT

          ORDER

          SUSAN O. HICKEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. ECF No. 46. Plaintiffs have filed a response. ECF No. 50. The Court finds this matter ripe for consideration.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Michelle Rasberry filed her Complaint on August 4, 2016. ECF No. 1. Plaintiff Rasberry sought relief pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201, et seq., and the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act (“AMWA”), Ark. Code Ann. §§ 11-4-201, et seq. ECF No. 1, ¶ 1. Plaintiff Rasberry claimed that Defendant failed to pay her, and others similarly situated, overtime compensation for all hours worked in excess of 171 hours in a twenty-eight consecutive day work period. ECF No. 1, ¶ 1. Specifically, Plaintiff Rasberry alleged that Defendant had “misclassified [Plaintiff Rasberry and all those similarly situated] as exempt from the overtime requirements of the FLSA . . . and the AMWA[.]” ECF No. 1, ¶ 9. Plaintiff Rasberry claimed that she was a salaried employee employed by Defendant and “was routinely required to work off-the-clock in excess of 171 hours in a 28-day work period and was not allowed to report all hours worked, including overtime.” ECF No. 1, ¶¶ 15, 18. The Court conditionally certified a FLSA collective action on January 31, 2017. ECF No. 25. Upon completion of the FLSA opt-in period, six individuals, including Plaintiff Rasberry, had consented to be part of the FLSA collective action. ECF Nos. 11, 12, 27, 28, 29. On July 31, 2017, the Court denied Plaintiff Rasberry's motion for class certification pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. ECF No. 35.

         On March 7, 2018, Plaintiff Rasberry was given leave to file an amended complaint adding individual AMWA claims for Plaintiffs Kumesha Ward, Jacob Cain, and Johnny Haynes. On March 8, 2018, Plaintiffs filed their First Amended and Substituted Complaint-Collective Action (hereinafter “Amended Complaint”). ECF No. 45. In the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff Rasberry again asserts individual and collective FLSA claims, and all Plaintiffs assert individual AMWA claims. In regard to Plaintiff Rasberry's individual and collective FLSA claims, Plaintiffs state that Defendant misclassified Rasberry and those similarly situated as exempt from FLSA overtime provisions and failed to pay Rasberry and those similarly situated for all hours worked, including overtime. ECF No. 45, ¶¶ 48, 59, 60. In regard to Plaintiffs' individual AMWA claims, they state that “[d]espite the entitlement of Plaintiffs to minimum wage and overtime payments under the AMWA, Defendant failed to pay Plaintiffs for all hours worked including overtime. . . . Defendant willfully failed to pay overtime wages to Plaintiffs[.]” ECF No. 45, ¶¶ 53, 54.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that when a party moves for summary judgment “[t]he court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that 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 Supreme Court has issued the following guidelines for trial courts to determine whether this standard has been satisfied:

The inquiry performed is the threshold inquiry of determining whether there is a need for trial-whether, in other words, there are genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party.

Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986); see also Agristor Leasing v. Farrow, 826 F.2d 732 (8th Cir. 1987); Niagara of Wis. Paper Corp. v. Paper Indus. Union-Mgmt. Pension Fund, 800 F.2d 742, 746 (8th Cir. 1986). A fact is material only when its resolution affects the outcome of the case. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. A dispute is genuine if the evidence is such that it could cause a reasonable jury to return a verdict for either party. Id. at 252.

         The Court must view the evidence and the inferences that may be reasonably drawn from the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Enter. Bank v. Magna Bank, 92 F.3d 743, 747 (8th Cir. 1996). The moving party bears the burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Id. The nonmoving party must then demonstrate the existence of specific facts in the record that create a genuine issue for trial. Krenik v. Cnty. of Le Sueur, 47 F.3d 953, 957 (8th Cir. 1995). A party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment may not rest upon mere allegations or denials, but must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256. The non-moving party “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsuhita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). “A case founded on speculation or suspicion is insufficient to survive a motion for summary judgment.” Nat'l. Bank of Comm. of El Dorado, Ark. v. Dow Chem. Co., 165 F.3d 602, 610 (8th Cir. 1999). The non-moving party “must come forward with sufficient evidence to support their claims and cannot stand on their complaint and unfounded speculation.” Id. (internal citations omitted). “When opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, a court should not adopt that version of the facts for purposes of ruling on a motion for summary judgment.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007).

         DISCUSSION

         In the instant motion, Defendant asserts that it is entitled to summary judgment concerning “any and all claims brought by Separate Plaintiff Kumesha Ward[.]” ECF No. 46, ¶ 2. Defendant asserts that Plaintiff Ward's claims (1) fail as a matter of law and (2) are barred by the applicable statutes of limitation. The Court will address each of these assertions in turn.

         I. Defendant's Assertion That Plaintiff Ward's Claims Fail as a Matter of Law

         Defendant states that, like the other plaintiffs in this action, Plaintiff Ward was a salaried employee. ECF No. 47, pp. 1-2. However, Defendant claims that, unlike the other plaintiffs, Plaintiff Ward was a part-time employee. ECF No. 47, p. 2. Defendant further asserts that when deposed, Plaintiff Ward stated that she worked approximately thirty-eight ...


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