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Lopez-Gomez v. Jim's Place, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division

July 10, 2015

ALFONSO LOPEZ-GOMEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
JIM'S PLACE, LLC AND COSTA B. TARAS, Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT

JON P. McCALLA, District Judge.

Before the Court is Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment, filed on January 15, 2015. (ECF No. 50.) For the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's motion is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

Plaintiff Alfonso Lopez-Gomez brings this suit for unpaid overtime in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq. Plaintiff worked as a cook for co-Defendant Jim's Place, LLC ("Jim's Place") (ECF No. 50-2 ¶ 4), which is managed in part by co-Defendant Costa B. Taras (ECF No. 52 ¶ 3). Plaintiff was employed at Jim's Place from "in or around the end of 2010" until March 2014, with a brief respite at the beginning of 2011. (Complaint ¶ 9, ECF No. 1; Answer ¶ 9, ECF No. 10.) Plaintiff's primary responsibilities and duties consisted of the preparation of food for the restaurant's customers. (Answer ¶ 9.)

Plaintiff was paid straight time pay by check for any hours less than (40) hours in a work week. (Pl.'s Statement of Undisputed Material Facts in Supp. of Mot. for Partial Summ. J. ("SUMF") ¶ 6, ECF No. 52; Def.'s Response to Pl.'s Statement of Undisputed Material Facts in Supp. of Mot. for Partial Summ. J. ("Response to SUMF") ¶ 6.) Plaintiff alleges that it is undisputed that he was paid straight time pay in cash for any hours more than forty (40) in a work week for the period of November 2010 to October 10, 2012. (See SUMF ¶¶ 6-7 (citing Taras Dep. 23:16-24:9, ECF No. 50-3).) From October 10, 2012 until November 14, 2014, Plaintiff's checks showed a "Misc Pay" category, which Defendant Taras admitted may have been compensation "for hours over 40 in a work week." (SUMF ¶ 7; Response to SUMF ¶ 7.)

At all relevant times Jim's Place was an "employer" and an "enterprise" as defined in the FLSA. (See Compl. ¶¶ 4, 6; Ans. ¶ 4; ECF No. 51 ¶ 1.) Defendant Taras holds a 50% ownership interest in Jim's Place. (SUMF ¶ 2; Response to SUMF ¶ 2.) Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Taras is also an employer under the FLSA. (ECF No. 50-1 at 5-6.)

The U.S. Department of Labor (the "DOL") contacted Defendant Taras in January of 2014 and initiated an investigation of potential wage and hour violations. (ECF No. 50 at 2; Taras Dep. 34:19-24.) During the investigation, the DOL explained to Defendant Taras the overtime compensation requirements under the FLSA. (Taras' Dep. 36:5-25). As part of the investigation, the DOL informed Defendant Taras that overtime is to be paid at time and one-half the regular rate when employees work in excess of forty (40) hours in a work week, and that Defendants had paid their employees only straight-time for all the hours worked over forty (40) in a work week. (ECF No. 50-4 at PageID 339.) The Department of Labor issued a report of its investigation and findings on February 21, 2014. (See id. at PageID 342.)

B. Procedural Background

On April 30, 2014, Plaintiff filed the complaint against Defendants. (ECF No. 1.) On May 27, 2014, Defendants filed an answer to the complaint. (ECF No. 10.) On May 30, 2014, Defendant filed a notice of correction to the answer. (ECF No. 14.) On June 24, 2014, Plaintiff filed a motion for protective order on discovery related to Plaintiff's immigration status. (ECF No. 16.) On July 1, 2014, Defendants filed a response in opposition to the protective order. (ECF No. 17.) The motion was referred to the magistrate judge (ECF No. 18), who granted the motion on June 2, 2014 (ECF No. 23).

On July 24, 2014, the Plaintiff filed a motion to compel initial discovery. (ECF No. 25.) The motion was referred to the magistrate judge on July 24, 2014. (ECF No. 26.) Defendants filed a Response to the motion to compel on July 24, 2014. (ECF Nos. 27, 28.) The motion to compel was denied as moot on July 28, 2014. (ECF No. 32.)

On September 26, 2014, Defendants filed a motion for a protective order. (ECF No. 34.) On September 28, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Response in opposition to the motion. (ECF No. 35.) The motion was referred to the magistrate judge on September 29, 2014. (ECF No. 36.) The motion was granted in part and denied in part on October 1, 2014. (ECF No. 39). On October 9, 2014, Defendant appealed the decision of the magistrate judge. (ECF No. 40.) On October 14, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Response in opposition to the appeal. (ECF No. 41.) On October 21, 2014, the appeal was denied. (ECF No. 44.)

On October 16, 2014, Defendants filed a second motion to compel discovery. (ECF No. 42.) Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to the second motion to compel on October 29, 2014. (ECF No. 48.) The second motion to compel was referred to the magistrate judge (ECF No. 45), and was denied on November 20, 2014 (ECF No. 49).

On January 15, 2015, Plaintiff filed the instant motion for partial summary judgment. (ECF No. 50.) On January 23, 2015, Defendants filed a response in opposition to Plaintiff's motion and supporting memorandum, and a response to Plaintiff's statement of undisputed material facts. (ECF Nos. 51-53.) On February 4, 2015, Plaintiff filed a ...


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