Carranza v. Red River Oilfield Services, LLC
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER denying 29 Motion for Relief from Judgment and for New Trial.(Signed by Judge Nancy F Atlas) Parties notified.(TDR, 4)
United States District Court
Southern District of Texas
March 31, 2017
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
RED RIVER OILFIELD SERVICES,
David J. Bradley, Clerk
CIVIL ACTION NO. H-15-3631
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) case is before the Court on the Motion
for Relief from Judgment and for New Trial (“Motion”) [Doc. # 29] filed by Plaintiff
Harley Carranza, to which Defendant Red River Oilfield Services, LLC (“Red River”)
filed a Response [Doc. # 30]. Plaintiff neither filed a reply nor requested additional
time to file one. The Court has again reviewed the full record and the applicable legal
authorities. Based on that review, the Court denies Plaintiff’s Motion.
Red River is an Oklahoma company that provides services, including pipe
inspection, to the oil and gas industry. Plaintiff worked for Red River as an Electro
Magnetic Inspector from June 2013 to November 2015. While he was employed by
Red River, Plaintiff was paid a salary plus commission.
Plaintiff filed this lawsuit on December 15, 2015, alleging that he frequently
worked more than forty hours per week. Plaintiff alleged that Red River violated the
FLSA by failing to pay him overtime wages for the hours he worked in excess of forty
per week. Red River moved for summary judgment, arguing that Plaintiff was exempt
from the FLSA’s overtime requirements because, inter alia, he fell within the
executive exemption and/or the “highly-compensated employee” exemption. By
Memorandum and Order [Doc. # 26] and Final Judgment [Doc. # 27] entered
January 27, 2017, the Court granted Red River’s Motion for Summary Judgment.
Plaintiff filed his Motion for Relief from Judgment and for New Trial. Plaintiff
argues that there are discrepancies between the declaration and the deposition
testimony of Rick Blankenship, the owner of Red River. Plaintiff argues that this
raises a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether he is a “blue collar” worker
to whom the exemptions do not apply. The Motion is now ripe for decision.
STANDARD FOR RECONSIDERATION
Rule 59(e) permits a litigant to file a motion to alter or amend a judgment. FED.
R. CIV. P. 59(e) (“A motion to alter or amend a judgment must be filed no later than
28 days after the entry of the judgment.”). Reconsideration of a judgment is an
“extraordinary remedy that should be used sparingly.” Waites v. Lee County, Miss.,
498 F. App’x 401, 404 (5th Cir. Nov. 26, 2012) (quoting Templet v. Hydrochem, Inc.,
367 F.3d 473, 479 (5th Cir. 2004)). A motion for reconsideration “is not the proper
vehicle for rehashing evidence, legal theories, or arguments that could have been
offered or raised before the entry of judgment.” Templet v. HydroChem Inc., 367 F.3d
473, 479 (5th Cir. 2004); Knight v. Kellogg Brown & Root Inc., 2009 WL 1471788,
at *6 (5th Cir. 2009) (quoting Templet, 367 F.3d at 479). Instead, Rule 59(e) serves
the narrow purpose of allowing a party to bring errors or newly discovered evidence
to the Court’s attention. See In re Rodriguez, 695 F.3d 360, 371 (5th Cir. 2012)
(citing In re Transtexas Gas Corp., 303 F.3d 571, 581 (5th Cir. 2002)).
A litigant seeking relief under Rule 59(e) “must clearly establish either a
manifest error of law or fact or must present newly discovered evidence.”
Balakrishnan v. Bd. of Supervisors of La. State Univ. & Agr. & Mech. Coll., 452 F.
App’x 495, 499 (5th Cir. 2011) (citing Ross v. Marshall, 426 F.3d 745, 763 (5th Cir.
2005) (quotation marks and citation omitted)). A Rule 59(e) motion “cannot be used
to argue a case under a new legal theory.” Id. (citing Ross, 426 F.3d at 763).
Moreover, “an unexcused failure to present evidence available at the time of summary
judgment provides a valid basis for denying a subsequent motion for reconsideration.”
Templet, 367 F.3d at 479 (citing Russ v. Int’l Paper Co., 943 F.2d 589, 593 (5th Cir.
1991)); see also Tate v. Starks, 444 F. App’x 720, 729 (5th Cir. June 21, 2011).
The Court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant on both the
executive exemption and the “highly compensated employee” exemption.1 Plaintiff
argues that the Court cited only to Blankenship’s Declaration, not to his deposition
testimony. Plaintiff argues that material discrepancies between the declaration and the
deposition testimony preclude summary judgment. The Court has again carefully
reviewed Blankenship’s deposition testimony cited in Plaintiff’s response to the
Motion for Summary Judgment, and does not find material discrepancies that would
The executive exemption applies to any employee who (1) is paid at least $455
per week, (2) whose “primary duty is management . . . of a customarily
recognized department or subdivision,” (3) who “customarily and regularly
directs the work” of at least two other employees, and (4) who has hiring and
firing authority, or whose suggestions about promotion and termination are
“given particular weight.” See 29 C.F.R. § 541.100; Chambers v. Sodexo, Inc.,
510 F. App’x 336, 339 (5th Cir. 2013). An employee’s “primary duty” is “the
principal, main, major or most important duty that the employee performs.” 29 C.F.R.
§ 541.700(a). Determination of an employee’s primary duty for purposes of the
FLSA is based on the job responsibilities that are “of principal value to the employer,
not the collateral tasks that [he] may also perform, even if they consume more than
half [his] time.” Dalheim v. KDFW-TV, 918 F.2d 1220, 1227 (5th Cir. 1990).
The “highly-compensated employee” exemption applies to employees (1) who have
a “total annual compensation of at least $100,000.00” (which must include at least
$455.00 per week paid on a salary or fee basis), and (2) who regularly and
customarily perform at least one of the duties of an executive, administrative, or
professional employee. 29 C.F.R. § 541.601(a), (b)(1); see also In re Novartis Wage
and Hour Litig., 611 F.3d 141, 146-47 (2d Cir. 2010); Zannikos v. Oil Inspections
(USA), Inc., 605 F. App’x 349, 359 (5th Cir. Mar. 27, 2015).
preclude summary judgment on the two exemptions on which summary judgment was
In his Response to Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment, Plaintiff cited
to Blankenship’s deposition testimony three times.2 The first citation was to pages 7576, where Blankenship described the “prove-up” process in which an inspector looks
at a section of pipe wall that has been identified as potentially having inadequate
thickness. Blankenship testified that only an inspector can perform the “prove-up”
process. This testimony does not conflict with any statements in Blankenship’s
declaration and, moreover, does not raise a genuine issue of material fact regarding
either the executive or highly-compensated employee exemptions.
Plaintiff in his Response to Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment cited
also to page 67 of Blankenship’s deposition transcript, where Blankenship testified
that the inspection process is “like a production assembly line.” Blankenship testified
also, on that same page, that the inspector has a helper paint the suspect areas on a
pipe and that the similarity to a “production assembly line” is that the inspector, such
“When evidence exists in the summary judgment record but the nonmovant fails even
to refer to it in the response to the motion for summary judgment, that evidence is not
properly before the district court.” Malacara v. Garber, 353 F.3d 393, 405 (5th Cir.
2003). “Rule 56 does not impose upon the district court a duty to sift through the
record in search of evidence to support a party’s opposition to summary judgment.”
Id. (internal citations and quotations omitted); Williams v. Valenti, 432 F. App’x 298,
302 (5th Cir. 2011).
as Plaintiff, is “in the office, looking out the window, and the employees are out there
performing their services.” Nothing in this cited testimony is in conflict with
Blankenship’s declaration, and nothing in the cited testimony creates a genuine issue
of material fact regarding the applicability of the executive or the highly-compensated
The third citation is to Blankenship’s deposition testimony on pages 66, 70
and 74. In that testimony, Blankenship described the color-coded paint that is placed
on pipe that needs further inspection. For example, red paint indicates damaged
connections, and yellow paint indicates inadequate wall thickness. Most companies
use the same color-coding.
There is nothing in this testimony that creates a
discrepancy with Blankenship’s declaration, and nothing that raises a genuine issue
of material fact regarding the exemptions relied on by the Court in issuing summary
judgment in Red River’s favor.
Plaintiff again argues, as he did in response to the Motion for Summary
Judgment, that the “highly-compensated employee” exemption does not apply because
he was a “blue collar” worker performing manual work. An employee does not
qualify for the “highly-compensated employee” exemption unless his “primary duty”
includes performing office or non-manual work. See 29 C.F.R. § 541.601(d). The
exemption provides specifically that it applies:
only to employees whose primary duty includes performing office or
non-manual work. Thus, for example, non-management production-line
workers and non-management employees in maintenance, construction
and similar occupations such as carpenters, electricians, mechanics,
plumbers, iron workers, craftsmen, operating engineers, longshoremen,
construction workers, laborers and other employees who perform work
involving repetitive operations with their hands, physical skill and
energy are not exempt under this section no matter how highly paid they
29 C.F.R. § 541.601(d) (emphasis added). As described in the Court’s Memorandum
and Order granting summary judgment, the uncontroverted evidence in the summary
judgment record demonstrated that Plaintiff’s primary duty was managing and
supervising the inspection crew. Plaintiff’s evidence cited in his Response to the
Motion for Summary Judgment did not raise a genuine issue of material fact that his
primary duty was manual labor rather than management.
CONCLUSION AND ORDER
Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate either a manifest error of law or fact, or the
existence of newly-discovered evidence. As a result, it is hereby
ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion for Relief from Judgment and for New Trial
[Doc. # 29] is DENIED.
SIGNED at Houston, Texas, this 31st day of March, 2017.
NAN Y F. ATLAS
STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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