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McLaughlin v. G2 Engineering & Management, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee

February 20, 2018




         This civil action is before the Court on defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 53]. Plaintiff responded in opposition [Doc. 55]. Defendants' motion is fully briefed and ready for disposition. E.D. Tenn. L.R. 7.1(a). For the reasons stated below, the Court will grant in part and deny in part defendants' motion for summary judgment.

         I. Background

         A. Factual Background

         Plaintiff Jacqueline McLaughlin initiated this action pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (the “FLSA”) against defendants Michael Twine and G2 Engineering & Management, Inc (“G2”). Plaintiff seeks relief under the FLSA for unpaid overtime compensation, liquidated damages, reasonable attorney's fees, and costs. Plaintiff also seeks general, special, and punitive damages. Plaintiff asserts (1) an FLSA violation, (2) fraud in the inducement, (3) actual fraud, (4) breach of contract, (5) breach of the implied duty of good faith and fair dealing, and (6) her right to quantum meruit recovery [Doc. 1 pp. 7-13].

         Plaintiff was employed by defendant G2 Engineering & Management, Inc., which was owned and operated by defendant Twine. G2 employees are paid at an hourly rate. The focus of this dispute is on the hourly wage that defendant Twine agreed to pay plaintiff. Because no written agreement has been produced on the record, the facts in this case are based largely on the parties' recollection of oral discussions regarding plaintiff's role at ¶ 2 and plaintiff's compensation.

         Around May 2014, plaintiff and defendants entered into a discussion regarding plaintiff's role in the company and her potential role as a project manager. The parties disagree about the outcome of this discussion. Plaintiff asserts that she was given the job as project manager and that she was led to believe she would be paid at a rate of at least $35.00/hour. Plaintiff also asserts that defendant Twine said he would consider plaintiff's request for a rate of $38.00/hour.

         Defendant Twine, on the other hand, says that he was considering plaintiff for the role of project manager, but that she first needed to prove that she was qualified for the role. Defendant Twine asserts that plaintiff's role was more accurately described as a data entry clerk and that the parties never agreed to a $35.00/hour wage. Defendant Twine argues that plaintiff's request for $38.00/hour was a counteroffer that served as a rejection of his initial $35.00/hour offer.

         B. Standard of Review

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, summary judgment is appropriate “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 moving party has the burden of establishing that no genuine issues of material fact exist. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 n.2 (1986); Moore v. Philip Morris Cos., 8 F.3d 335, 339 (6th Cir. 1993). Yet, “[o]nce the moving party presents evidence sufficient to support a motion under Rule 56, the nonmoving party is not entitled to a trial merely on the basis of allegations.” Curtis Through Curtis v. Universal Match Corp., 778 F.Supp. 1421, 1423 (E.D. Tenn. 1991).

         To determine whether a genuine dispute of material fact exists, the Court must view all facts and inferences in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); Burchett v. Kiefer, 301 F.3d 937, 942 (6th Cir. 2002). A dispute about a material fact is genuine when a “reasonable jury” could resolve the dispute in favor of the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The fact is material if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Id.

         When resolving a motion for summary judgment, the Court's role is limited to determining “whether there is a need for a trial-whether, in other words, there are any 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.” Id. at 250. The Court does not weigh the evidence but simply determines whether sufficient evidence has been presented to make the dispute of fact a proper question for the factfinder to resolve. Id. at 248.

         II. Analysis

         Defendants argue that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 on plaintiff's claims against them. As explained below, the Court finds that defendants are entitled to summary judgment on the actual fraud and fraudulent inducement claims; however, they are not entitled to summary judgment on the FLSA, breach of contract, and breach of implied duty of good faith and fair dealing ...

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