Maldonado v. Mattress Firm, Inc. et al
ORDER: Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. # 98 ) is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART. Defendants shall file an Answer by January 19, 2018. Signed by Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington on 1/12/2018. (KAK)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
LUIS MALDONADO, on
Case No. 8:13-cv-292-T-33AEP
CALLAHAN’S EXPRESS DELIVERY,
INC. and PATRICK CALLAHAN,
This matter is before the Court pursuant to the Motion
for Summary Judgment (Doc. # 98), which was filed by Luis
situated,” on December 1, 2017. Defendants Patrick Callahan
and Callahan’s Express Delivery, Inc. filed a Response in
Opposition (Doc. # 99) on December 15, 2017. For the reasons
that follow, the Court grants the Motion in part and denies
the Motion in part.
Callahan’s Express Delivery and Callahan contract to make
local delivery of mattresses, furniture, and other goods on
behalf of retail customers, such as Mattress Firm and IKEA.
(Doc. # 98 at 2).
Callahan is “the proprietor of Callahan’s
Express Delivery, Inc.” (Callahan Aff. Doc. # 99-1 at ¶ 2).
Maldonado was employed by Defendants from June of 2011 through
June of 2012. (Maldonado Decl. Doc. # 98-3 at ¶ 5). Maldonado
began his employment as a driver’s helper and then became a
driver. (Id. at ¶ 6).
Throughout his employment, Maldonado
states that he was paid a “piece rate” of $10.00 per delivery.
(Id.). Callahan, on the other hand, asserts that drivers were
paid $20.00 for each completed delivery. (Callahan Aff. Doc.
# 99-1 at ¶ 18). Maldonado signed an “Independent Contractor’s
Agreement” that states, among other things, “The parties’
intention is that Contractor be an independent contractor and
not the employee of the Company and that Contractor retains
sole and absolute discretion in the manner and means [of]
carrying out the services described in [the Agreement].” (Doc.
# 99-1 at 5). The services described in the Agreement are
“driver on a truck, delivering for the Company, and requiring
a two man team.” (Id. at ¶ 1).
Although the Agreement is
dated November 13, 2010, Maldonado states in his declaration
that his employment began in June of 2011. (Maldonado Decl.
Doc. # 98-3 at ¶ 5).
Maldonado should report for work. (Id. at ¶ 7).
and/or their clients gave [Maldonado] a pre-set schedule of .
. . deliveries for the day, and gave [Maldonado] a specific
window of time within which each delivery had to be made.”
(Id. at ¶ 10).
Maldonado indicates he “had no say” with
respect to his schedule and he “could not choose where to
work, when to work, the hours of the work, or the number or
location of [the] deliveries each day.” (Id. at ¶ 11).
Maldonado, “were not required to work any specific days,
times, hours or shifts” and “could choose to work, or not to
work, on a given day depending upon their availability.”
(Callahan Aff. Doc. # 99-1 at ¶¶ 14, 17). All deliveries took
place within the state of Florida. (Maldonado Decl. Doc. # 983 at ¶ 9).
According to Maldonado, he typically worked 12 or more
hours per day between 6 and 7 days a week.
(Id. at ¶¶ 14-15).
Although he routinely worked between 60 and 84 hours per week,
he was not paid overtime compensation. (Id. at ¶¶ 15, 23). He
states that he was required to notify Defendants if he had to
miss a day of work for any reason and faced termination if he
missed scheduled work days. (Id. at ¶ 16). But Callahan avers
[Callahan] if they were unable to work.” (Callahan Aff. Doc.
# 99-1 at ¶¶ 20-21). And if a driver failed to show up for a
scheduled delivery, “they may not have been utilized for
future services, but were not terminated by [Callahan].” (Id.)
The parties agree that Maldonado supplied some of his own
tools such as “basic hand tools” and his personal cell phone.
(Maldonado Decl. Doc. # 98-3 at ¶¶ 20-21).
Maldonado supplied “necessary tools to perform the job”
such as “screwdrivers, cordless drill, smart phone, drill
bits, and pliers.” (Callahan Aff. Doc. # 99-1 at ¶ 12).
Defendants, on the other hand, supplied 10,000 pound trucks,
fuel, and insurance. (Maldonado Decl. Doc. # 98-3 at ¶ 20).
On January 31, 2013, Maldonado initiated this action by
filing a single-count complaint for violations of the Fair
Labor Standards Act against Mattress Firm, Inc., Callahan’s
Express Delivery, Inc., and Patrick Callahan. (Doc. # 1).
Mattress Firm filed an Answer on March 12, 2013. (Doc. # 20).
The Callahan Defendants filed a Motion to Compel Arbitration
(Doc. # 23) on March 20, 2013.
On April 24, 2013, the Court
granted the Callahan Defendants’ Motion to Compel Arbitration
and directed the parties to advise the Court regarding whether
Maldonado’s claims against Mattress Firm should be stayed
pending resolution of the arbitration proceedings. (Doc. #
34). On April 25, 2013, Mattress Firm filed a separate Motion
requesting that the claims against it also be submitted to
arbitration. (Doc. # 37).
On June 3, 2013, the Court granted
the Motion “to the extent that the Court compels arbitration
of Maldonado’s claim against Mattress Firm.” (Doc. # 50 at
Because all of Maldonado’s claims were ordered to be
submitted to arbitration, the Court closed the case on June 3,
Yet, on January 12, 2017, Maldonado filed a Motion to
Reopen the Case. (Doc. # 51).
Maldonado explained that he
filed a Demand for Arbitration with the American Arbitration
Association in order to commence arbitration proceedings
against the Callahan Defendants, but the Callahan Defendants
“repeatedly and willfully refused to comply with the AAA’s
requirements for maintaining a case in arbitration.” (Id. at
Maldonado stated he paid all fees due to the AAA in a
timely manner, but the Callahan Defendants – the parties that
made the demand for arbitration - failed to timely pay the
arbitrator, failed to respond to discovery orders entered in
the arbitration, and unduly delayed the arbitration process.
(Id. at 2-3).
Maldonado submitted to this Court an Order
issued by the AAA on July 27, 2016, reflecting that the
arbitration was administratively closed. (Doc. # 51-1).
January 30, 2017, the Court entered an Order denying without
prejudice the Motion to Reopen the Case and requesting more
information regarding the failed arbitration. (Doc. # 52).
On April 18, 2017, Maldonado renewed his Motion to Reopen
the Case. (Doc. # 53).
The Court entered an Order on May 3,
Defendants but denying the Motion as to Mattress Firm.
The Court explained that Maldonado was required to
proceed against Mattress Firm through arbitration and “the
record reflects that no such proceeding was instituted by
Maldonado against Mattress Firm in the almost four years since
the Court compelled arbitration.” (Id. at 4).
With the case reopened as to the Callahan Defendants
only, the Court entered a Fast Track Scheduling Order on May
4, 2017. (Doc. # 60).
Thereafter, on June 2, 2017, Maldonado
Machado, Ed-Joacin Melendez, Javier Aguilar, Alex Armon, Artis
Patterson, and Mario Calo) executed Consent to Join Collective
containing statements similar to those made by Maldonado.
(Machado Decl. Doc. # 98-4).
Callahan states Maldonado,
Machado, and Patterson were “independent contractor drivers”
and Armon, Melendez, and Aguilar were “driver’s helpers who
were neither employees nor independent contractors.” (Callahan
Aff. Doc. # 99-1 at ¶¶ 5-6).
Callahan explains that drivers
had the prerogative to hire helpers, and if they did, the
individual drivers, not Defendants, would pay the helpers.
(Id. at ¶ 8).
None of the helpers filed declarations or
affidavits and the parties have not demarcated the difference
Callahan’s Express Delivery filed an Answer to the Complaint
and they have not presented any affirmative defenses.
certification of an opt-in class and issuance of notice under
29 U.S.C. § 216(b).
On June 26, 2017, the parties participated in a mediation
conference but reached an impasse. (Doc. # 70).
8, 2017, the Court issued a Case Management and Scheduling
Order setting a pretrial conference for February 5, 2018, and
a jury trial for the February 2018 trial term. (Doc. # 97).
On December 1, 2017, Maldonado filed a Motion for Summary
Judgment. (Doc. # 98).
The Motion is ripe for the Court’s
review. (Doc. # 99). As explained below, the Court grants the
Motion in part and denies the Motion in part.
III. Legal Standard
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).
A factual dispute alone is not enough to
defeat a properly pled motion for summary judgment; only the
existence of a genuine issue of material fact will preclude a
grant of summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).
An issue is genuine if the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
Mize v. Jefferson City Bd. of Educ., 93 F.3d 739, 742
(11th Cir. 1996) (citing Hairston v. Gainesville Sun Publ’g
Co., 9 F.3d 913, 918 (11th Cir. 1993)).
A fact is material if
it may affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.
Allen v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 121 F.3d 642, 646 (11th Cir.
1997). The moving party bears the initial burden of showing
the court, by reference to materials on file, that there are
no genuine issues of material fact that should be decided at
trial. Hickson Corp. v. N. Crossarm Co., Inc. 357 F.3d 1256,
1260 (11th Cir. 2004)(citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 323 (1986)). “When a moving party has discharged its
pleadings,’ and by its own affidavits, or by ‘depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file,’ designate
specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial.”
Jeffery v. Sarasota White Sox, Inc., 64 F.3d 590, 593-94 (11th
Cir. 1995)(citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324).
If there is a conflict between the parties’ allegations
or evidence, the non-moving party’s evidence is presumed to be
true and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in the nonmoving party’s favor. Shotz v. City of Plantation, 344 F.3d
1161, 1164 (11th Cir. 2003). If a reasonable fact finder
evaluating the evidence could draw more than one inference
from the facts, and if that inference introduces a genuine
issue of material fact, the court should not grant summary
judgment. Samples ex rel. Samples v. City of Atlanta, 846 F.2d
1328, 1330 (11th Cir. 1988). (citing Augusta Iron & Steel
Works, Inc. v. Emp’rs Ins. of Wausau, 835 F.2d 855, 856 (11th
Cir. 1988)). However, if the non-movant’s response consists of
required. Morris v. Ross, 663 F.2d 1032, 1034 (11th Cir.
FLSA Enterprise Coverage
Maldonado seeks summary judgment on the issue of whether
the Callahan Defendants are covered by the FLSA.
provides coverage where an enterprise (1) “has employees
commerce, or that has employees handling, selling or otherwise
working on goods or materials that have been moved in or
produced for commerce by any person;” and (2) “whose annual
gross volume of sales made or business done is not less than
$500,000.” 29 U.S.C. § 203(s)(1)(A)(i)-(ii).
“It has been
firmly established that the phrase ‘engaged in commerce’
within the meaning of the FLSA is to be given a broad, liberal
construction.” DeMaria v. Ryan P. Relocator Co., 512 F. Supp.
2d 1249, 1257 (S.D. Fla. 2007)(citing Brennan v. Wilson Bldg.,
Inc., 478 F.2d 1090, 1093 (5th Cir. 1973)).
Maldonado served the Callahan Defendants with discovery
aimed at ascertaining FLSA coverage.
(Doc. ## 98-1, 98-2).
Among other requests, Maldonado requested that Defendants
“[a]dmit that Respondent grossed more than $500,000 in gross
receipts or business done” in 2009-2011. (Doc. # 98-1 at 8-9).
performance of his work, Claimant regularly handled goods and
materials that originated outside the State of Florida.” (Id.
The Callahan Defendants did not respond to the discovery
requests. Maldonado filed a Motion requesting sanctions based
on the Callahan Defendants’ failure to respond to discovery.
(Doc. # 85). In an Order dated November 7, 2017, the Court
granted the Motion for Sanctions and held that Maldonado’s
requests for admissions are deemed admitted.
(Doc. # 96).
Through the Requests for Admissions, which have been deemed
response to the Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendants did
not raise any arguments aimed at defeating enterprise coverage
under the FLSA.
Thus, the Motion for Summary Judgment is
granted to the extent that the Court finds that Callahan
Defendants are an enterprise subject to the coverage of the
Employee vs. Independent Contractor Status
The FLSA’s overtime provisions apply to employees, but
not independent contractors. Perdomo v. Ask 4 Realty & Mgmt,
Inc., 298 F. App’x 820, 821 (11th Cir. 2008). “A determination
of employment status under the FLSA . . . is a question of
employee, instead of an independent contractor, courts apply
the “economic realities” test.
Scantland v. Jeffry Knight,
Inc., 721 F.3d 1308, 1311-12 (11th Cir. 2013).
requires the Court to “look past the labels the parties apply
to their relationship, and to examine both whether Plaintiff’s
relationship to Defendant is that of a traditional employee
and to what extent Plaintiff is economically dependent upon
Defendants.” Castro v. Sevilla Props., LLC, No. 13-cv-22466,
2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 181210, at *6 (S.D. Fla. Dec. 30, 2013).
In the Eleventh Circuit, courts consider the following
factors in determining an individual’s employment status:
the nature and degree of the alleged
employer’s control as to the manner in which
the work is to be performed;
the alleged employee’s opportunity for profit
or loss depending upon his managerial skill;
the alleged employee’s investment in equipment
or materials required for his task, or his
employment of workers;
whether the service rendered requires a
the degree of permanency and duration of the
working relationship; and
the extent to which the service rendered is an
integral part of the alleged employer’s
Scantland, 721 F.3d at 1312.
No one factor is outcome
determinative, nor is the list exhaustive. Id. “Ultimately, in
considering economic dependence, the court focuses on whether
an individual is ‘in business for himself’ or is ‘dependent
upon finding employment in the business of others.’” Id.
(citing Mednick v. Albert Enters., Inc., 508 F.2d 297, 301-02
(5th Cir. 1975)).
The Court recognizes that the determination of whether an
individual is an employee or an independent contractor is a
Nevertheless, genuine issues of material fact
preclude a ruling on this threshold issue.
Nature and Degree of Control
“The economic reality inquiry requires [the Court] to
examine the nature and degree of the alleged employer’s
control, not why the alleged employer exercised such control.”
Scantland, 721 F.3d at 1316.
The Eleventh Circuit has found
the following factors, among others, relevant to the control
inquiry: “whether the alleged employer (1) had the power to
hire and fire the employee, (2) supervised and controlled
employee work schedules and conditions of employment, (3)
determined the rate and method of payment, and (4) maintained
employment records.” Villarreal v. Woodham, 113 F.3d 202, 205
(11th Cir. 1997).
It is undisputed that Callahan hired the drivers, but it
appears the individual drivers had the authority to hire the
Maldonado seeks overtime payments for his
time as both a driver and as a helper. It is not clear whether
the helpers were paid or otherwise employed by Defendants at
all. And, while Maldonado claims that Callahan had the power
to discipline and terminate drivers and helpers, Callahan
characterizes his role differently.
Callahan also claims the
drivers “had no requirements to work any specific number of
dictated.” (Callahan Aff. Doc. # 99-1 at ¶ 19).
recounts the situation differently by asserting that Callahan
controlled every aspect of the delivery schedule.
also a dispute regarding the amount paid for deliveries.
Solis v. A+ Nursetemps, Inc., No. 5:07-cv-182, 2013 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 49595 at *18 (M.D. Fla. Apr. 5, 2013), the court
observed that “[i]n an independent contractor relationship,
the independent contractor normally has at least an equal say
in the rate to be charged for particular work by bidding on
the job or by posting or advertising standard rates for the
work to be performed.”
Here, it is not clear whether any
driver or driver’s helper had any say in the amount he was
The issue of employer control is clouded by various
disputes of fact, which preclude summary judgment.
Opportunity for Profit or Loss
Courts may find independent contractor status when a
worker is able to garner additional income or profit through
the exercise of managerial skill or increased efficiency in
the manner or means of accomplishing the work. See Scantland,
721 F.3d at 1316-17. “The opportunity for profit and loss has
more to do with relative investments, with control over larger
aspects of the business, and with like forms of initiative.”
Harrell v. Diamond A Entm’t, 992 F. Supp. 1343, 1351 (M.D.
Fla. Nov. 28, 1997).
The Callahan Defendants argue that Maldonado had the
opportunity to control the number of deliveries he made, the
hours he worked, as well as the choice of whether to hire a
helper. But, Maldonado claims he was completely powerless: “I
did not manage any aspect of my work.
Rather, each day I made
the deliveries I was assigned, during specific windows of
time, and was paid the $10.00 per delivery that Callahan set
as my pay.” (Maldonado Decl. Doc. # 98-3 at ¶ 13).
parties’ differing accounts of the relevant facts present a
genuine dispute and a credibility determination is needed.
Relative Investments of the Parties
Courts may find independent contractor status when a
completing his tasks, or hires other workers to assist him in
the completion of his tasks. Scantland, 721 F.3d at 1317.
Here, Maldonado did make such investments. It is not disputed
screwdrivers, pliers, and a smart phone.
However, when the Court compares the relative investments
of the parties, it appears that this factor weighs in favor of
finding employee status.
See Sakacsi v. Quicksilver Delivery
Sys., No. 8:06-cv-1297-T-24MAP, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88747,
at *19 (M.D. Fla. Nov. 28, 2007)(FLSA plaintiff delivery
drivers that supplied their own vehicles, gas, maintenance,
and insurance were still found to be employees because the
defendant provided costly iPAQ devices for scanning supplies
as well as software, an office building and office supplies);
Partridge v. Mosley Motel of St. Petersburg, Inc., No. 8:15cv-936-T-33JSS, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1723, at *16 (M.D. Fla.
Jan. 6, 2016)(FLSA plaintiff’s provision of his own drill did
not render him an independent contractor because defendant
supplied the majority of the tools and supplies needed to
carry out the work).
Special Skill Required to Perform the Job
“A lack of specialization indicates that an individual is
an employee, not an independent contractor.”
Molina v. S.
Fla. Express Bankserv, Inc., 420 F. Supp. 2d 1276, 1286 (M.D.
Fla. 2006). Further, “[r]outine work which requires industry
nonemployee status.” Usery v. Pilgrim Equip. Co., 527 F.2d
1308, 1314 (5th Cir. 1976). “Finally, even if an individual
has specialized skills, that is not indicative of independent
contractor status where the individual does not use those
skills in an independent fashion.” Molina, 420 F. Supp. 2d at
Maldonado generally argues that he provided unskilled
labor. Indeed, in Artola v. MRC Express, Inc., No. 14-cv23219, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130183, at *26 (S.D. Fla. Sept.
25, 2015), the court held: “Driving is not a special skill.
Neither is manual labor (loading and unloading vehicles).” See
also Herman v. Express Sixty-Minutes Delivery Serv, 161 F.3d
299, 305 (5th Cir. 1998)(“Express’s drivers clearly depend for
their livelihood on Express.
They are not specialists called
in to solve a special problem, but unskilled laborers who
arguments that delivery drivers “had to be qualified and
skilled in driving delivery trucks” and their duties included
“performing Department of Transportation inspections, general
vehicle inspections, loading such vehicles, and securing the
loads.” (Doc. # 99 at 7). The Court requires more information
regarding this factor to make a determination regarding FLSA
commercial driver’s license to act as a driver or helper? Was
he provided any formal training?
Was he required to spend
time as helper before becoming a driver?
It may be that
drivers are independent contractors and helpers are employees.
More information is needed before these determinations can be
Permanency and Duration of Relationship
In Clincy v. Galardi S. Entertainers, 808 F. Supp. 1326,
1348 (N.D. Ga. 2011), the court indicated that a working
relationship of less than one year is “transient or itinerant”
and signaled independent contractor status.
relationship with Defendants lasted for one year. (Maldonado
Decl. Doc. # 98-3 at ¶ 5).
This factor therefore militates
slightly in favor of finding employee status.
Maldonado’s services were an integral part of the Callahan
“Generally, the more integral the
work, the more likely the worker is an employee, not an
independent contractor.” Robles v. RFJD Holding Co., No. 11cv-62069, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77524, at *23 (S.D. Fla. June
presented, the Court determines that this factor weighs in
favor of finding employee status. Plainly, a delivery company
is dependent upon delivery drivers to function and such
drivers perform the core functions of the Callahan Defendants’
business. See Sakacsi, at *26 (“Simply put, without its
delivery drivers, [defendant] could not function.”).
Examining the Record as a Whole
In determining whether an employer-employee relationship
existed, “[n]o one factor is determinative;” “each factor
should be given weight according to how much light it sheds on
the nature of the economic dependence of the putative employee
on the employer.” Perdomo, 298 F. App’x at 821; see also
Usery, 527 F.2d at 1311 (“No one of these considerations can
become the final determinant, nor can the collective answers
to all of the inquires produce a resolution which submerges
consideration of the dominant factor – economic dependence.”);
Benshoff v. City of Va. Beach, 180 F.3d 136, 141 (4th cir.
1999) (“The employer-employee relationship does not lend
itself to rigid per se definitions, but depends upon the
circumstances of the whole activity.”).
Here, some of the relevant factors point to employee
status, but many of the relevant factors are dominated by
factual disputes. And the overarching question of whether the
helpers were employed or otherwise contracted by the Callahan
Defendants remains to be addressed. The Court therefore denies
the Motion for Summary Judgment with respect whether Maldonado
was an employee or, rather, an independent contractor.
Individual Liability for Patrick Callahan
Plaintiff also seeks a finding that Patrick Callahan
should be held individually liable for any violations of the
FLSA that may be found in this case.
“A corporate officer
with operational control of a corporation’s covered enterprise
severally.” Patel v. Wargo, 803 F.2d 632, 637-38 (11th Cir.
1986). In making an individual liability determination, the
Court must “inquire as to whether the officer was involved in
the compensation of employees, the hiring and firing of
employees, or other matters in relation to an employee.”
Olivas v. A. Little Havana Check Cash, Inc., 324 F. App’x 839,
845 (11th Cir. 2009).
Summary judgment in a plaintiff
employee’s favor on the issue of individual liability is
appropriate when the individual corporate officer “hired [the
plaintiff], set [the plaintiff’s] rate of pay and schedule,
and had the authority to discipline [the plaintiff],” in
addition to “exercis[ing] the authority to hire and fire [the
company’s] employees, determine work schedules, and control
[the company’s] finances and operations.” Id.
The Court has
determined that there are genuine issues of material fact
Judgment on this issue.
Motor Carrier Exemption to the FLSA
Maldonado seeks summary judgment on the issue of whether
Exemptions from the overtime provisions of the FLSA “are to be
narrowly construed against the employer.” Birdwell v. City of
Gasden, Ala., 970 F.2d 802, 805 (11th Cir. 1992).
“should be interpreted liberally in the employee’s favor.” Id.
And, a defendant “must prove applicability of an exemption by
omitted). The determination of whether FLSA exemptions should
apply is a question of law. Walters v. Am. Coach Lines of
Miami, Inc., 569 F. Supp. 2d 1270, 1281 (S.D. Fla. 2008).
Here, the Callahan Defendants have not filed an Answer to
the Complaint, nor have they asserted any defenses. Therefore,
Defendants have not brought the exemption before the Court in
a procedurally correct manner.
Rather than provide a ruling
on the application of an exemption that is not squarely before
the Court, the Court provides the Callahan Defendants with the
opportunity to file an Answer and Affirmative Defenses by
January 19, 2018.
The Motion for Summary Judgment is denied
without prejudice with respect to the Motor Carrier Act
The Court will evaluate the exemption only if a
Defendant raises it and only if the Court finds that Maldonado
is an employee under the FLSA.
Until Maldonado’s employment
status is ascertained, a discussion of possible (and yet to be
asserted) FLSA exemptions is a hypothetical and premature
Good Faith and Other Issues
Maldonado seeks an Order finding that Defendants’ conduct
evinces a manifest lack of good faith and that the he is
The FLSA provides that any employer who violates
the overtime requirements “shall be liable to the employee or
employees affected in the amount of their unpaid . . .
overtime compensation . . . and an additional amount as
liquidated damages.” 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). The Eleventh Circuit
has instructed that “an employer who seeks to avoid liquidated
damages bears the burden of proving that its violation was
both in good faith and predicated upon such reasonable grounds
that it would be unfair to impose upon him more than a
compensatory verdict.” Joiner v. Macon, 814 F.2d 1537, 1539
(11th Cir. 1987).
That is, “liquidated damages are mandatory
absent good faith.” Id.
Here, the Court determines that it is premature to
evaluate whether the Callahan Defendants acted in good faith.
The good faith analysis will only be necessary if a violation
of the FLSA is found.
And, at this stage, the determination
of whether Maldonado was an employees or an independent
contractor still needs to be made.
If, after hearing the
evidence, the Court determines that the he was an independent
contractor, the good faith inquiry will be moot.
accordingly denies the Motion for Summary Judgment on this
Accordingly, it is
ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED:
Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. # 98) is
GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART consistent with the
Defendants shall file an Answer by January 19, 2018.
DONE and ORDERED in Chambers, in Tampa, Florida, this
12th day of January, 2018.
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