Todd v. Daewon America, Inc.
OPINION AND ORDER: it is ORDERED that the 98 motion for summary judgment filed by dft Daewon America, Inc. is denied as to opt-in plfs Lashon'te Tolbert and Antwan Patrick; This summary-judgment motion is now completely resolved. Signed by Honorable Judge Myron H. Thompson on 5/15/2014. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Appeals Checklist) (wcl, )
IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA, EASTERN DIVISION
DAEWON AMERICA, INC.,
CIVIL ACTION NO.
OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Kelvin Todd brings this action under the
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219, on
behalf of himself and others similarly situated, claiming
that his former employer, defendant Daewon America, Inc.,
Jurisdiction is proper pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216(b)
(FLSA) and 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (federal question).
judgment on the claims of two ‘opt-in plaintiffs’ in the
case: Lashon’te Tolbert and Antwan Patrick.
reasons that follow, the company’s motion will be denied.*
Todd worked for Daewon America from September 2,
Opelika, Alabama, including shot peening, assembly, and
His last rate of pay with the company was $ 13.40
an hour, with an overtime rate of $ 20.10 an hour.
Todd alleges that, although Daewon America paid him
some overtime, it did not pay him for all the overtime he
worked. The FLSA requires that any employee who works
over 40 hours a week receive one-and-a-half times his
regular pay for all excess hours.
29 U.S.C. § 207.
Todd contends that he was underpaid as a result of
*Daewon America moved for summary judgment on the
claims of six opt-in plaintiffs.
The motion remains
unresolved as to the claims of only Tolbert and Patrick.
See order of April 17, 2014 (Doc. No. 114).
policy was to pay for pre-shift overtime work only if the
employee worked an excess of 15 minutes before the start
of his shift. Todd regularly began work for the company
before the start of his shift, but was not paid for that
time because it did not exceed 15 minutes; if he worked
more than 15 minutes pre-shift, the company paid him for
the 15 minutes but no more.
In July 2011, the company
changed its policy so that it would not pay for any preshift time unless the employee worked an excess of 30
resulted in further under-compensation in violation of
Additionally, Todd says he was routinely required
to work through his lunch break, but the company still
deducted 30 minutes pay for his lunch.
II. Procedural Background
Todd filed this lawsuit alleging that, in violation
of the FLSA, Daewon America had a policy of paying for
only 15 minutes of pre-shift work and that as a result of
this policy the company shorted his overtime pay.
also alleges that the company, in violation of the FLSA,
deducted 30 minutes of pay for a lunch break despite
subsequently moved for conditional class certification so
as to notify potential class members of their right to
opt into his lawsuit under the FLSA’s collective-action
provision, 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). The court conditionally
certified a class “consisting of those nonexempt, hourly
wage employees who worked at defendant Daewon America,
Inc.’s manufacturing plant in Opelika, Alabama for the
three years preceding initiation of this suit to the
Todd v. Daewom Am., Inc., 2013 WL 557859 *6
(M.D. Ala. 2013), as amended by Todd v. Daewon Am., Inc.,
2013 WL 1163431 *2 (M.D. Ala. 2013).
The court further
approved a notice procedure to persons who were alleged
members of the class. Todd v. Daewon Am., Inc., 2013 WL
1163431 (M.D. Ala. 2013), as amended by order of April 3,
2013 (Doc. No. 36).
Forty or so persons opted into this
The United States Magistrate Judge issued an order
interrogatories and one request for production for each
opt-in plaintiff remaining in the case.
She also allowed
the company to take depositions of nine opt-in plaintiffs
for up to two hours. The company served the remaining
opt-in plaintiffs with the same set of interrogatories
and requests for production. It also agreed with the
named plaintiff’s counsel on which nine opt-in plaintiffs
Daewon America now moves for summary judgment on
claims of opt-in plaintiffs Tolbert and Patrick because,
according to Daewon America, neither has ever worked at
the company’s Opelika plant as required by the court’s
“A party may move for summary judgment, identifying
each claim or defense-–or the part of each claim or
defense–on which summary judgment is sought. The 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 court must view the admissible
evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of that
party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. Ltd. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).
The crux of Daewon America’s argument is that opt-in
plaintiffs Tolbert and Patrick were never part of this
class because they never worked at the Opelika plant.
At a conference call held on the record on May 14,
2014, counsel for the named opt-in plaintiff represented
to the court, and Daewon America did not contest, that
these two opt-in plaintiffs initially joined the case
because the company put their names on the list of
potential opt-in plaintiffs to whom notice would be sent.
Furthermore, this case has already settled.
settlement agreement, including the amount to be awarded,
was executed based on the understanding that these two
opt-in plaintiffs would be included in the settlement.
For that reason, the court agrees with counsel for the
summary-judgment motion is simply moot at this stage.
The settlement resolved the case, and the company should
challenge as to whether a particular opt-in plaintiff’s
has merit; otherwise, the settlement would be
After the settlement, the merit of any
particular claim is no longer relevant.
Finally, to the extent that summary-judgment motion
is not moot, the court denies it in the interest of
equity and fairness.
For, unlike the other individuals
whom the court has already dismissed, essentially because
they in one way or another abandoned this case, see Todd
v. Daewon Am., Inc., 2014 WL 1572605 (M.D. Ala. 2014)
(“In short, the opt-in plaintiffs’ lack of response and
participation demonstrates to this court a knowing and
plaintiffs.”), these two opt-in plaintiffs are facing
exclusion from the case, and from an already agreed-upon
settlement, through absolutely no fault of their own.
Indeed, if the current predicament is anyone’s fault, it
is the fault of Daewon America, which initiated these
individuals’ participation in this case and waited until
now to raise their alleged exclusion from the class.
light of this lopsided distribution of responsibility,
Cf. Justice v. United States, 6 F.3d
1474, 1479 (11th Cir. 1993) (considering “conflicting
concerns ... regarding ... fairness” in the context of
equitable tolling of statutes of limitations, and noting
that “[t]he interests of justice are most often aligned
with the plaintiff when the defendant misleads her...”).
Therefore, regardless of what the merits of the
America raised it in a different posture, the court will
blamelessness, Daewon America’s own role in creating this
problem, and the fact that the case has already been
summary judgment filed by defendant Daewon America, Inc.
(Doc. No. 98) is denied as to opt-in plaintiffs Lashon’te
Tolbert and Antwan Patrick. This summary-judgment motion
is now completely resolved.
DONE, this the 15th day of May, 2014.
/s/ Myron H. Thompson
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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