United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division
RANDALL AUSTIN ESTES, et al. PLAINTIFFS
CHRISTOPHER BUELL, et al. DEFENDANTS
OPINION AND ORDER
KRISTINE G. BAKER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is plaintiffs Randall Austin Estes and Shannon
Mashburn's motion for partial summary judgment (Dkt. No.
20). Defendants filed a response in opposition, and
plaintiffs replied (Dkt. Nos. 23, 25). In their first amended
and substituted complaint, plaintiffs allege that defendants
improperly denied them overtime compensation in violation of
the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C.
§ 216(b), and the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act
(“AMWA”), Arkansas Code Annotated § 11-4-201
et seq. (Dkt. No. 18, ¶ 1). Plaintiffs seek
partial summary judgment on exemptions from the overtime
requirements of the FLSA and AMWA; specifically, plaintiffs
contend that defendants failed to raise any exemptions to the
FLSA or the AMWA as affirmative defenses and that,
regardless, defendants do not meet the requirements for the
executive, administrative, or professional exemption to apply
to Mr. Estes or any other exemption based on a “duties
test” to apply to Mr. Estes (Dkt. No. 20). See
29 C.F.R. §§ 541.100(1); 541.200(1); 541.300(1). To
the extent discussed below, the Court denies in part and
grants in part plaintiffs' motion for partial summary
judgment (Dkt. No. 20).
following facts are taken from defendants' statement of
undisputed material facts (Dkt. No. 24). Mr. Estes is a
former employee of defendants AR Life Transport, LLC, and
Christopher Buell (Id., ¶ 1). Mr. Estes worked
as a dispatcher for defendants in 2017 (Id., ¶
2). Defendants assigned Mr. Estes to transport
defendants' customers (Id., ¶ 3). During
his employment, defendants paid Mr. Estes a monthly salary of
$900.00 (Id., ¶ 4). As a dispatcher, Mr.
Estes' job duties were to communicate by telephone with
defendants' customers and drivers to arrange
non-emergency medical transportation (Id., ¶
5). As part of his employment, defendants allowed Mr. Estes
to reside in their property located at 1509 South Fillmore,
Little Rock, Arkansas 72204 (Id., ¶ 6). Mr.
Estes states that he was not required to pay rent and that
defendants were responsible for the upkeep and utility bills
at 1509 South Fillmore for the duration of his tenancy there
(Dkt. No. 21, ¶ 7). Defendants state that “[p]art
of [Mr. Estes'] income included residency at the Fillmore
property which included the Defendants being responsible for
the upkeep and utility bills” at that location (Dkt.
No. 24, ¶ 7). The parties agree that defendants
maintained “total and unrestricted” access to
1509 South Fillmore for the duration of Mr. Estes'
tenancy, but defendants argue that they “rarely did so
and only to ensure the property was being properly
cared-for.” (Id., ¶ 8).
Estes was required to be on duty from 7:00 p.m. every Sunday
until 5:00 p.m. the following Friday (Id., ¶
9). Mr. Estes argues that his job duties required him to work
more than forty hours per week and that he worked as many as
90 hours per week (Dkt. No. 21, ¶ 10). Defendants
concede that Mr. Estes' job duties required him to work
more than 40 hours per week, but they also argue that he was
exempt from the 40-hour rule under 29 C.F.R. §§
541.100(1), 541.200(1), 541.300(1) (Dkt. No. 24, ¶ 10).
attached to Mr. Estes' motion for partial summary
judgment is an “Employee Residential Licensing
Agreement” (the “Agreement”) executed by
Christopher Buell and Mr. Estes (Dkt. No. 20-1). The
Agreement states that it is entered between AR Life Transport
LLC as an employer and Mr. Estes as an employee
(Id., at 1). Per the Agreement, Mr. Estes is allowed
“to occupy the housing located at 1509 South Fillmore,
Little Rock, Arkansas 72204 . . . .” (Id.).
Furthermore, Mr. Estes was not required to pay utilities for
his lodging (Id.). The Agreement also states that
Mr. Estes was to receive a monthly salary of $900.00
(Id.). In exchange, Mr. Estes, per the Agreement,
was “to work on call, from Sunday at 7 pm through
Friday at 5 pm.” (Id.).
also attach a document titled “AR Life Job
Description” to their motion for partial summary
judgment (Dkt. No. 20-3). This document describes Life
Transport as a “full service non emergency transport
company.” (Id., at 1). The document states
that “[d]rivers are independent contractors” who,
“before a load is ever booked, ” “are given
the opportunity to do it or not.” (Id., at 1).
The document further states that “[l]ocal runs pay $12
per run, ” and “[i]f the driver picks up two
patients at the same time drivers will be paid $12 per
patient as though it were two runs.” (Id., at
2). Per the document, if a customer takes longer than 15
minutes, “drivers will be paid for the additional time
. . . .” (Id.). Alternatively, the document
states that “[l]ong distance runs will be paid $12 an
hour based on a trip guide calculation of miles, plus fifteen
minutes on both the loading and receiving end.”
(Id.). Finally, the document states that
“EMTs will be paid $25 per hour and will receive a
four hour minimum. Therefore if a run takes an hour the EMT
will be paid $100. Should the run take 5 hours, the EMT will
be paid $25 per hour for each additional hour worked
therefore $125.” (Id.).
ask the Court to grant summary judgment on the question of
exemptions from the FLSA and AMWA's overtime requirements
(Dkt. No. 20). Plaintiffs argue that: (1) defendants have
waived their exemption defenses; (2) the undisputed record
evidence shows that Mr. Estes' salary was too low to
satisfy the minimum salary requirement for the executive,
administrative, or professional exemptions; (3) the lodging
and extra work provided by defendants should not count
towards the minimum salary requirement; and (4) the
undisputed record evidence shows that Mr. Estes' job
duties prevent him from being covered by any other FLSA
exemption (Dkt. No. 22, at 1-7). Defendants contest these
points (Dkt. No. 23). Defendants also assert that Mr. Estes
was not an employee but instead was a contractor, in part,
and an employee, in part (Id., at 1).
Court has not been asked to, and therefore does not, resolve
whether plaintiffs were employees of defendants to whom the
requirements of the FLSA and AMWA would otherwise apply.
Instead, the Court resolves the narrow issues presented by
plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment. For the
reasons stated below, the Court finds that defendants have
not waived their exemption defenses. Additionally, the Court
finds that, assuming without deciding for purposes of
resolving this motion that Mr. Estes was an employee to whom
the requirements of the FLSA and AMWA otherwise applied, as a
matter of law, Mr. Estes is not exempt under the executive,
administrative, or professional employee exemptions to the
FLSA and AMWA. Finally, assuming without deciding for
purposes of resolving this motion that Mr. Estes was an
employee to whom the requirements of the FLSA and AMWA
otherwise applied and viewing the record evidence in the
light most favorable to defendants, the Court finds that, as
a matter of law, Mr. Estes is not exempt under any
“duties test” set forth by the FLSA or the AMWA.
judgment is proper if there is no genuine issue of material
fact for trial. UnitedHealth Group Inc. v. Executive Risk
Specialty Ins. Co., 870 F.3d 856, 861 (8th Cir. 2017)
(citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56). Summary judgment is proper if the
evidence, when viewed in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party, shows that there is no genuine issue of
material fact and that the defendant is entitled to entry of
judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). “Where the
record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of
fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no genuine
issue for trial.” Johnson Regional Medical Ctr. v.
Halterman, 867 F.3d 1013, 1016 (8th Cir. 2017) (quoting
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)). A factual dispute is genuine if
the evidence could cause a reasonable jury to return a
verdict for either party. Miner v. Local 373, 513
F.3d 854, 860 (8th Cir. 2008). “The mere existence of a
factual dispute is insufficient alone to bar summary
judgment; rather, the dispute must be outcome determinative
under the prevailing law.” Holloway v. Pigman,
884 F.2d 365, 366 (8th Cir. 1989).
parties opposing a summary judgment motion may not rest
merely upon the allegations in their pleadings. Buford v.
Tremayne, 747 F.2d 445, 447 (8th Cir. 1984). The initial
burden is on the moving party to demonstrate the absence of a
genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp., 477
U.S. at 323. The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to
establish that there is a genuine issue to be determined at
trial. Prudential Ins. Co. v. Hinkel, 121 F.3d 364,
366 (8th Cir. 2008), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 1048
(1998). “The evidence of the non-movant is to be
believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in
his favor.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986).