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O'Quinn v. Country Inn, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division

April 9, 2019

CATHY O'QUINN PLAINTIFF
v.
COUNTRY INN, INC., et al DEFENDANTS

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF A UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          HON. BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the Court is the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 22. Plaintiff has responded. ECF No. 26. This Motion was referred to the undersigned for a report and recommendation, and this Motion is now ripe for consideration.

         I. Background:

         This is an action to recover unpaid overtime wages pursuant to the requirements of 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. Defendants Charles and Shon Knabe own and operate Country Inn, Inc. (“Country Inn”), a lakeside resort located in Hot Springs, Arkansas. ECF No. 1, ¶¶ 10-15. Plaintiff was employed as an office manager at Country Inn from approximately July 2017 through February 2018. Id. at ¶¶ 20-21. Plaintiff lived in a company owned apartment on the premises of the Country Inn. Id. at ¶ 28. In addition to the company owned apartment, Plaintiff was also paid $400.00 per week for her job. Id. at ¶ 35.

         Plaintiff alleges her job duties included “checking in guests, checking out guests, cleaning the resort, answering the telephone and taking reservations.” Id. at ¶ 22. Plaintiff also claims she “regularly booked reservations via telephone and/or the internet” during her tenure at Country Inn. Id. at ¶ 23. Plaintiff further alleges she was issued a company cell phone that she was required to keep at all times. Id. at ¶ 31-32. According to Plaintiff, part of her official job duties included being available “in case the company cell phone rang and to answer the company cell phone when it rang.” Id. at ¶ 33.

         On July 11, 2018, this Court granted Defendants partial summary judgment on the issue of enterprise coverage, ruling that Defendants' evidence on summary judgment established the motel's annual revenue of less than the $500, 000 threshold of 29 U.S.C. § 203(s)(1)(A)(ii). ECF No. 15. The Court denied Defendants' request to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims regarding the existence of individual FLSA coverage because discovery might yield additional facts regarding the nature and extent of Plaintiff's job duties at Country Inn. Id. The Court indicated it would entertain a motion for summary judgment on the issue once the parties had concluded discovery. Id.

         On February 27, 2019, Defendants filed their Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiff's FLSA claiming (1) Plaintiff's position at the Country Inn was exempt from FLSA coverage pursuant to 29 C.F.R. § 785.23 and (2) Plaintiff has no FLSA individual coverage because discovery has yielded no facts tending to show Plaintiff was engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce. ECF No. 22.

         2. Applicable Law:

         Pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a federal court is authorized to grant summary judgment in a case. Summary judgment is appropriate when the record, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, reveals 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. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. A genuine issue of material fact exists only if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         The moving party bears the initial burden of showing that no genuine issue of material fact exists. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to show through specific evidence that a triable issue of fact remains on an issue where the nonmovant bears the burden of proof at trial. Id. at 324. A mere scintilla of evidence in support of the nonmovant's position is insufficient. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.

         To survive a motion for summary judgment, “a nonmovant must present more than a scintilla of evidence and must advance specific facts to create a genuine issue of material fact for trial.” Parks v. City of Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas, 480 F.3d 837, 839 (8th Cir. 2007) (citation omitted). As stated in this rule, “[w]hen a motion for summary judgment is properly made and supported, an opposing party may not rely merely on allegations or denials in its own pleading; rather, its response must-by affidavits or as otherwise provided in this rule-set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial.” Id.

         3. Discussion:

         The FLSA provides for two types of coverage: (1) individual employee coverage, and (2) enterprise coverage.[1] 29 U.S.C. § 206. “To adequately plead individual coverage under the FLSA, plaintiffs must allege that, at times relevant to their claim, they were ‘engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce.'” Shorts v. Primeco Auto Towing, L.L.C., No. CIV.A. H-13-2794, 2014 WL 3670004, at *2 (S.D. Tex. July 22, 2014) (quoting 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(2)(C)). “Either individual or enterprise coverage is enough to invoke FLSA protection.” Landeros v. Fu King, Inc., 12 F.Supp.3d 1020, 1032 (S.D. Tex. 2014) (citing Martin v. Bedell, 955 F.2d 1029, 1032 (5th Cir. 1992)).

         In their Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiff's FLSA claim, Defendants argue (1) Plaintiff's position at the Country Inn was exempt from FLSA coverage pursuant to 29 C.F.R. § 785.23 and (2) Plaintiff has no FLSA individual coverage because she was ...


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