Richard R. Sisney, Jr., et al v. Trinidad Drilling, L.P.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER. Signed by Judge Royce C. Lamberth. (rg)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
SAN ANTONIO DIVISION
CLEfK, U ) fl!STRICT CLERI(
TRICT OF TEXAS
RICHARD R. SISNEY JR., FRANK
FETTERS, and RYAN WALKER, on
Behalf of Themselves and All Others
Civil Case No. 15-cv-132 (RCL)
TRINIDAD DRILLING, LP,
Plaintiffs brought this action against Trinidad Drilling, LP, their former employer, pursuant to
the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, 29 U.S.C.
2101-2109 (WARN Act).
Before this Court is defendant Trinidad Drilling LP's Motion [ECF No. 15] for Summary
Judgment, plaintiffs' Response [ECF No. 16], and defendant's Reply [ECF No. 17]. Defendant's
Reply also contained a Motion [ECF No. 17] to Strike. Plaintiffs' Response [ECF No. 21] was
timely filed, and defendant did not reply. For the reasons discussed below, this Court will GRANT
the Motion for Summary Judgment and DENY the Motion to Strike as moot.
Trinidad Drilling, LC owns and operates drilling rigs that provide drilling services on oil and
gas leases in various states, including Texas and Oklahoma. Depending on the region, a rig yard
might consist of dozens of drilling rigs. Walker Decl. [ECF No. 16-11 ¶3. According to defendants,
each rig had the same positions, and it was common for personnel and equipment to shift between
rigs. Walker Decl. ¶15; Sisney Deci. 3, ¶J7-8; Fetters Decl. ¶1J4-5. Further, each rig appears to
have been managed by rig manager and a Superintendent. Walker DecI. ¶116-7; Sisney DecI. ¶6;
Fetters Deci. ¶ 6. Superintendents were above rig managers and responsible for multiple rigs within
a yard or region. Id. Managers were assigned to a particular drilling rig, and managed the
"roughneck" positions below them. The plaintiffs here were roughnecks, not in upper management
positions, and were never reassigned from their rig to another.'
This action focuses on layoffs at drilling rigs that are located in or around (1) San Antonio,
Texas, (2) Woodward, Oklahoma, and (3) North Central Texas. Plaintiffs worked for Trinidad
Drilling on several drilling rigs but were laid off between December 2014 and January 2015
Specifically, Trinidad Drilling reduced the crew assigned to Rig
123laying off 8 employees
and took Rig 206 and Rig 111 out of service entirelyterminating the 22 employees working at
each rig. Plaintiffs did not receive any written notice prior to their termination. It is undisputed that
less than 50 persons were employed at each rig. See Campbell Affidavit 3, ¶7 [ECF No. 15-1] ("In
no instances does a Rig have as many as 50 employees assigned to it.")
Plaintiffs filed suit, alleging that their terminations were in violation of the WARN Act. The
WARN Act requires employers who employ over 100 employees to give 60 days advanced written
notice before ordering a plant closing or mass layoff at a single site of employment. See 28 U.S.C.
2101(a). Plaintiffs' complaint alleges that that the termination of Trinidad employees here
'Rouglmecks refers to the manual labor positions on a drilling rig, usually drillers, derrickhands, motorhands,
worked as a motorman and a derrickhand, monitoring and repairing equipment, motors, and
floorhands. Ryan Walker
mud circulation pumps on his rig. Walker Decl. ¶111 1-12. Richard Sisney worked as a floorhand, helping
Decl. ¶3. Frank Fetters
connect, and disassemble pipes and assisting derrickhands with drilling equipment. Sisney
worked as a driller and assistant driller in directing drilling operations on his rig. Fetters DecI. ¶3.
Richard Sisney worked on Rig 123 in the San Antonio Yard, which consisted of "many drilling rigs" in the
rig was put out of service, and he was laid off, around December
Ford Shale. Sisney Deci. ¶2; Campbell Aff. 4, ¶9. His
of "five to seven
19, 2014. Id. Frank Fetters worked on Rig 206 in the Woodward Oklahoma Yard, which consisted
Fetters Decl. ¶3. Ryan Walker worked on Rig 111 in the Springtown Yard, which
drilling rigs" in the Anadarko Basin.
consisted of approximately five drilling rigs in the North Central Texas region. Walker Deci. ¶4; Campbell Aff.
His rig was put out of service, and he was laid off, in January 2015. Walker Decl. ¶ 5; Campbell Aff. 4, ¶9.
occurred at single sites of employment in violation of the WARN Act. See Am. Compl.
No. 13]. Plaintiffs have alleged the terminations took place at three separate "single sites" within
the requirements of the WARN Act: sites in San Antonio, Woodward, and North Central Texas.
Id. at 3-7.
Trinidad Drilling filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on the applicability of the WARN
Act. Specifically, Trinidad Drilling argues that the drilling rigs should not be considered
collectively as "single sites of employment" within a geographic area. Def.'s Mot. 8 [ECF No. 15].
In other words, the rigs themselves are single sites of employment, but the plaintiffs cannot
combine those sites to create a large single site based on a geographic region. According to
Trinidad Drilling, if the regions are not separate single sites of employment, the layoffs at issue
did not require 60-day advance written notice under the WARN Act. Id. at 15. Plaintiffs oppose
summary judgment, contending that genuine issues of material fact exist as to whether the rigs
may be aggregated into single sites. Pls.' Opp'n 6-9 [ECF No. 16]. In short, plaintiffs argue that
the evidence presented would allow a reasonable jury to find that the geographic regionsrather
than the individual
rigswere single sites of employment under the WARN Act.
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, a court must 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); see Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 247 (1986). The moving party bears the burden of establishing the lack of a genuine absence
of material fact. Id. A fact is material if it could affect the outcome of a case. Id. A dispute is
genuine if the evidence is such that "a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party." Id Once the moving party demonstrates a lack of an issue of material fact, the burden
passes to the nonmoving party. To survive summary judgment, a nonmoving party must present
specific facts or evidence that would allow a reasonable factfinder to find in his favor on a material
issue. Id. However, merely asserting a factual dispute or conclusory denials of the allegations
raised by the moving party is insufficient; the nonmoving party must come forward with competent
evidence. Id. at 249-250. The nonmoving party may set forth specific facts by submitting affidavits
or other evidence that demonstrates the existence of a genuine issue. Id. See also Fed. R. Civ. P.
Competent evidence of the nonmoving party is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences
are to be drawn in her favor. Id.
Under the WARN Act, employers must provide 60-day notice to workers before a "plant
closing" or "mass layoff." 29 U.S.C. § 2 102(a). An employer who fails to provide such notice is
liable for back pay, lost benefits, civil penalties, and attorneys' fees. Viator v. Deichamps Inc., 109
F.3d 1124, 1127 (5th Cir. 1997) (citing 29 U.S.C.
2104). The WARN Act defines a "plant
closing" as "the permanent or temporary shutdown of a single site ofemployment, or one or more
facilities or operating units within a single site of employment, if the shutdown results in an
employment loss at the single site of employment during any 30-day period for 50 or more
employees[.]" 29 U.S.C.
in force which.
2101(a)(2) (emphasis added). "Mass layoff' is defined as "a reduction
results in an employment loss at the single site of employment during any 30-
day period for at least 33 percent of the employees
. . .
and at least 50 employees." 29 U.S.C.
2101 (a)(3) (emphasis added). Therefore, recovery under the WARN Act for a mass layoff or plant
closing is predicated on the loss of employment occurring at a single site of employment. That loss
of employment must also involve 50 or more employees.
The WARN Act does not define "single site of employment," but Department of Labor
regulations do. See 20 C.F.R.
639.3(i). The regulations provide:
(1) A single site of employment can refer to either a single or a group of contiguous
(3) Separate buildings or areas which are not directly connected or in immediate
proximity may be considered a single site of employment if they are in
reasonable geographic proximity, used for the same purposes, and share the
same staff and equipment...
(4) Non-contiguous sites in the same geographic area which do not share the same
staff or operational purpose should not be considered a single site...
(5) Contiguous buildings owned by the same employer which have separate
management, produce different products, and have separate work forces are
considered separate sites of employment.
(6) For workers whose primary duties require travel from point to point, who are
outstationed, or whose primary duties involve work outside any of the
employer's regular employment sites (e.g., railroad workers, bus drivers,
salespersons), the single site of employment to which they are assigned as their
home base, from which their work is assigned, or to which they report will be
the single site in which they are covered for WARN purposes.
(8) The term "single site of employment" may also apply to truly unusual
organizational situations where the above criteria do not reasonably apply. The
applications of this definitions with the intent to evade the purpose of the Act
to provide notice is not acceptable.
In the Fifth Circuit, the general rule is that "separate facilities are separate sites." Davis
Signal Intern. Texas GP, LLC, 728 F.3d 482,485 (5th Cir. 2013) (citing 54 Fed.Reg. 16042, 16050
(Apr.21, 1989) and Viator v. Deichamps Inc., 109 F.3d 1124, 1127 (5th Cir. 1997)). "[S]eparate
facilities are only to be treated as a single site of employment if all three factors identified in [20
639.3(i)(3)] are met, namely: 1) the separate facilities are in reasonable geographic
proximity of one another; 2) they are used for the same purpose; 3) and they share the same staff
and equipment." Viator, 109 F.3d at 1127.
The critical question before this Court is whether Trinidad Drilling's rigs should each be
considered single sites of employment or if the rigs in three geographic
Texas, Woodward, Oklahoma, and North Central
three single sites of employment.
Texasshould be considered collectively
If the individual rigs are separate sites, all of plaintiffs' claims
must fail because less than 50 persons were terminated at each rig.3 In other words, the aggregation
of rigs into a single site of employment is essential to plaintiffs' recovery here.
In their amended complaint, plaintiffs allege that Trinidad Drilling failed to give required
WARN Act written notice in connection with either mass layoffs or plant closings "at single sites
of employment in connection with Defendant's (a) San Antonio, Texas, (b) Woodward, Oklahoma,
and (c) North Central Texas operational regions." Am. Compi. 1-2. Plaintiffs claim the geographic
regions constitute a single site of employment under 20 C.F.R.
639.3(i)(1), (3), (6), and/or (8).
Id. at 4-6. Trinidad Drilling, however, argues that "these employees were employed at specific
Rigs that were located at geographically distinct drilling sites and that had different managers for
day-to-day operations with no regular practice of sharing employees or equipment between Rigs
or the Yards." Def. 's Mot. 15. In short, Trinidad argues plaintiffs' claims fail as a matter of law
because the plaintiffs cannot show why the rigs should be considered collectively as a single site.
For the reasons discussed below, this Court agrees.
Plaintiffs argue that the motion for summary judgment "does not address Plaintiffs' alternate theories of liability"
under 20 C.F.R. § 639.3(b) & 639.3(j (regarding notice for plant closings) or 639.3(i)(8) (allowing the consideration
of "truly unusual organizational situations" as single sites of employment). But under either basis of liability, plaintiffs
must show 50 or more employees were affected at a "single site of employment." Thus, the issue raised herethat no
notice wasrequired because no single site of employment affected 50 or more employeestouches all of plaintiffs'
claims for liability under the WARN Act.
It is undisputed that less than 50 people worked on a Trinidad Drilling rig at any
As noted, under any basis for liability under the WARN Act, plaintiffs must show that 50 or
more employees were affected at a single site of employment.
2101(a)(2) & (3).
Plaintiffs admit that "as many as 26 people worked on Defendant's drilling rigs at any given time."
Pis.' Resp. 3. Assuming
each rig constitutes a separate single site of employment, less
than 50 were terminated at each site. Thus, no jury could reasonably conclude that there were a
sufficient number of affected employees to trigger the WARN Act requirements. Accordingly, the
Court will grant the motion for summary judgment on plaintiffs' claims to the extent that they
assert any of the rigs, on their own, constitute single sites of employment under 20 C.F.R
B. Under the general rule, the rigs are separate sites and not single sites of employment
under 20 C.F.R. § 639.3(i)(3).
Separate facilities are only to be aggregated into a single site of employment if all of the 20
C.F.R. § 629.3(i)(3) factors are met.
109 F.3d at 1127. Thus, plaintiffs must show (1) the
separate facilities are in reasonable geographic proximity of one another, (2) they are used for the
same purposes, and (3) they share the same staff and equipment.
reference in passing to a theory of liability under 20 C.F.R.
639.3(i)(6), which states:
For workers whose primary duties require travel from point to point, who are outstationed, or whose
primary duties involve work outside any of the employer's regular employment sites (e.g., railroad
workers, bus drivers, salespersons), the single site ofemployment to which they are assigned as their
home base, from which their work is assigned, or to which they report will be the single site in which
they are covered for WARN purposes.
To the extent plaintiffs assert they are traveling workers because they follow the rig as it moves, they report to, and
are assigned work at, the rig. In that instance, the rig would be the single site of employment. Because less than 50
people were employed on each rig, those claims fail.
a. Plaintiffs have failed to raise a genuine fact issue concerning whether the rigs
are in reasonable geographic proximity to one another.
As noted by plaintiffs, "geographic reasonableness is a moving target under limited case law
interpreting the WARN Act." Pis.' Resp. 12. Pointing to United Food and Commercial Workers
Union Local No. 72 v. Giant Markets, Inc., 878 F. Supp. 700 (M.D. Pa. 1995), plaintiffs argue
what constitutes geographic reasonableness depends on the specific facts and circumstances of
each case. This is true. Unfortunately, however, the evidence presented here is insufficient to raise
a genuine issue of material fact as to geographic reasonableness.
In United Food, a court determined the interrelatedness between five supermarkets located
between 2.8 miles and 52.1 miles from each other was a fact question. United Food, 878 F. Supp.
at 703, 709 ("No party presented facts pertaining to managerial autonomy, employee rotation,
and equipment sharing specific to the five stores in question."). However, there was evidence that
detailed the exact distance between the stores. United Food, 878 F. Supp. at 704 n.7. Here, there
is no such evidence. Plaintiffs argue that the distance between rigs was reasonable "pursuant to the
industry standard" because "it is industry standard that rigs are located across great distances."
Pls.' Resp. 11-12. But, plaintiffs point to no particular evidence as to oil and gas industry standards
and no evidence why the unknown distances between the rigs at issue here might be "reasonable."
According to the affidavits, the North Central Texas region, which included the Springtown
Yard, had "[a]pproximately five Trinidad drilling rigs," Walker Decl. ¶ 4, the Woodward, OK
region had "approximately five to seven drilling rigs," Fetters Deci. ¶ 3, and the San Antonio
region had "many drilling rigs," Sisney Deci. ¶ 2. But there is no reference to the distance between
the rigs or the size of the geographic regions at issue here. However, a Court may take judicial
notice of a fact that is not subject to reasonable dispute because it is generally known within the
jurisdiction or can be accurately and readily determines from sources whose accuracy cannot
reasonably be questioned. See FED. R. Civ. P. 201. The Court takes judicial notice that the oil fields
referred to herethe Eagle Ford Shale and the Anadarko
Basinspan hundreds, if not thousands,
of miles across.5 Further, the Court takes judicial notice that the regions at issue here are hundreds
of miles apart and cross state lines: San Antonio, TX is almost 600 miles from Woodward, OK,
the location of the Woodward Region, and 300 miles from Springtown, TX, the location of the
North Central Texas Region.
Given the size of the regions at issue here and the lack of information concerning the number
or location of the specific rigs to be aggregated, the Court finds that plaintiffs failed to raise a
genuine fact issue concerning whether the rigs in the San Antonio region, the Woodward region,
and the North Central Texas region are in reasonable geographic proximity to each other under 20
b. Plaintiffs have failed to raise a genuine fact issue concerning whether the rigs
are used for the same operational purpose.
Separate facilities are only to be treated as a single site of employment
if all three factors are
met. Since the Court finds that plaintiffs failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to the
geographic reasonableness of the rigs, the Court would not normally address other factors.
However, plaintiffs also argued that the unknown distance between the rigs within the geographic
regions are reasonable because "[d]efendant had a unified workforce in those regions and because
those regions had a common operational purpose." Pls.' Resp. 13. This argument conflates the
Railroad Commission of Texas, Eagle Ford Shale Information (2017), http:I/www.rrc.state.tx.us/oil-gas/major-oilgas-formations/eagle-ford-shale! ("The shale play trends across Texas from the Mexican border up into East Texas,
roughly 50 miles wide and 400 miles long. . ."); Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Petroleum
Geology of the Anadarko Basin Region, Province (115), Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas
http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/1 988/0450w/report.pdf ("The total area of the province is about 58,000 square miles; it's
maximum dimensions are about 350 miles north to south and 340 miles east to west.").
629.3(i)(3) factors, but in the name of clarity the Court will consider the operational purpose
Assuming arguendo that an unspecified number of rigs within a geographic region hundreds
of miles across raises an issue of material fact as to geographic proximity, plaintiffs also failed to
raise a genuine fact issue that the rigs were used for the same operational purpose. Under 20 C.F.R.
639(i)(4), "non-contiguous sites in the same geographic area which do not share the same staff
or operational purpose should not be considered a single site." (emphasis added).
Plaintiffs argue that the rigs within the geographic regions have a common operational purpose:
drilling for oil. Pls.' Resp. 16. Although plaintiffs admit that "shared operational purpose" has not
been addressed by courts in this Circuit, they urge this Court to focus on the shared management
here. Specifically, plaintiffs point to the existence of a group of middle managers called "drilling
superintendents" in charge of each geographic region. Pls.' Resp. 19. For support, plaintiffs point
to Reyes v. Greater Texas Finishing Corp., 19 F. Supp. 2d 709 (W.D. Tex. 1998), which held that
a laundry and garment finishing business with two buildings near each other may be considered a
single site of employment under 20 C.F.R.
639.3(i)(1) & (5). Reyes, 19 F. Supp. 2d at 714-15.
The Reyes court found that the buildings were contiguous "despite the fact that the buildings [were]
across the street from one another" because the buildings were "owned by the same employer,
have the same management, work the same products, and frequently share employees." Id. at 715.
Reliance on Reyes is wholly misplaced here. That holding was based on 20 C.F.R.
639.3 (i)( 1), which states a single site of employment can refer to a group of contiguous locations
or groups of structures across the street from one another, and 639.3(i)(5), which states that
contiguous buildings owned by the same employer but with different management, products, or
workforces are single sites of employment. Id. In Reyes, the worksites were considered contiguous
in part because plaintiffs offered no supporting argument of evidence that the buildings should be
considered separate sites of employment. Id. The uncontroverted evidence, therefore, showed the
buildings were owned by the same employer, under the same management, making the same
products, and sharing the same employees. Id. The Reyes court therefore determined that the two
buildings were a single site of employment. Here, plaintiffs have similarly left the Court wanting
for evidence. Plaintiffs' complaints center on an unknown number or location of rigs separated by
unspecified distances. There is no evidence suggesting that the rigs should be considered
contiguous with other Trinidad Drilling facilities under 20 C.F.R.
639.3(i)(l) or (5), or that they
share a common operational purpose, regardless of the shared ownership or management.
Plaintiffs also point to Brewer v. American Power Source, Inc., 291 Fed. Appx. 656 (5th Cir.
2008) (per curiam). In Brewer, the Fifth Circuit considered whether a layoff of 102 employees
from a factory in Columbus, Mississippi violated the WARN Act when it lacked 60-day notice.
Brewer, 291 Fed. Appx. at 657. The company tried to argue that these layoffs did not violate the
WARN Act because, the layoffs did not constitute "at least 33 percent of the employees" as
required by 29 U.S.C.
2101(a)(3) because the company employed 343 employees in Columbus,
Mississippi and Fayette, Alabama. Id. at 659. In other words, the company argued that the
Columbus and Fayette plants were one single site of employment. Id. (noting that the company
relied on evidence that the two plants were 40 miles apart, that the Columbus plant was an
expansion of Fayette's facilities, that they manufactured the same uniforms under the same
contract, and that they shared management and payroll). The Brewer plaintiffs presented "very
little evidence" in response, arguing only that the plants crossed state lines and did not share the
same staff or equipment. Id. at 659-60.
Again reliance on this unpublished Fifth Circuit opinion is misplaced. While the shared
management was certainly a factor in Brewer, one that admittedly cuts in the plaintiffs' favor,
other important factors are absent. Specifically, in Brewer there were only two factories, one of
which was an expansion of the other, they were 40 miles apart, and they produced the exact same
products under the same contract. Id. Here, though, an unknown number of oil rigs are untold miles
apart, operating on different oil reservoirs (or at least in different points on those reservoirs), and
are likely producing a variety of products under a multitude of oil and gas leases. Further, the
Brewer plaintiffs "provided nO facts" to support the assertions that facilities that crossed state lines
could not constitute single sites of employment.6 The Court is unconvinced that merely pointing
to some common management in the form of drilling superintendents is sufficient to establish that
each rig had a common operational purpose with every other rig in the field.
Trinidad Drilling argues that cases within this Circuit have addressed whether drilling rigs
should be treated collectively as a single site of employment. Mot. 8-9 (citing Voisin
F. Supp. 3d 670 (E.D. La. 2015). In Voisin, a drilling company operated a fleet
of floating drilling rigs that were periodically moved to different drilling locations. Voisin,
Supp. 3d at
The company also had a headquarters located on a dock. Id. That office handled
billing, personnel training, scheduling, equipment, etc. Id. While two rigs were stacked at the dock,
the company laid off 101 employees, and the employees sued for violations of the WARN Act. Id.
The Voisin court dismissed, holding that the rigs maintained independent operations from the
office or the other rigs as evidenced by the fact that employees ate, slept, and worked on the rigs
even while they were docked. Id. at
Further, even though a rig manager coordinated with the
The Court also noted that plaintiffs failed to even attempt to distinguish Carpenters District Council of New Orleans
Dillard Department Stores, Inc., 15 F.3d 1275 (5th Cir.1994), a case relief upon by defendants in which
two sites, one of which was an expansion of the original site, were held to be a "single site of employment."
& Vicinity v.
office to order supplies and equipment, the rigs were considered to function independently.
Because each rig was a separate facility, and because each rig had its own employees, the court
considered each rig a "separate site of employment" under the WARN Act.
The Court sees no reason to depart from the analysis articulated in Voisin. There is no evidence
that the rigs here, wherever and however many there are, share a common operational purpose
beyond generically drilling oil for profit. On the contrary, plaintiffs' evidence shows that each rig
had its own crew of roughnecks and rig managers who regularly performed duties on the same oil
rig with the same crew. See Walker Decl. ¶13 ("In summary, as a Roughneck employee, I did
manual labor as required on the drilling rig.") (emphasis added). That the rig mangers coordinated
with regional offices or other rigs to order supplies or equipment is not evidence that the rigs shared
a common operational purpose, only that they shared common operational equipment. See Voisin,
141 F. Supp. 3d at 672
(refusing to aggregate drillings rigs and a central office into a single site of
employment despite the rig managers coordinating with the central office for equipment or parts).
Further, testimony that anonymous superintendents delivered supplies to different rigs of unknown
location or number is similarly insufficient.
The general rule is clear: "separate facilities are separate sites." Viator v. Deichamps Inc., 109
F.3d 1124, 1127 (5th Cir. 1997)). Separate facilities are only to be treated as a single site of
employment if all three factors are satisfied. Id. Exceptions to the general rule are "narrow" and
limited to cases where geographically distinct sites have an "inextricable operational purpose."
Id. (emphasis added). Plaintiffs here attempt to broaden that standard to "shared management,"
rather than present more specific evidence as to these rigs and their operational purpose beyond
"drilling for oil and/or gas in a specific division for the profit of defendant." Pls.' Resp. at 16.
While it is conceivable that some oil rigs, closely linked in proximity, operations, and staff, could
be aggregated into a single site of employment, no specific evidence was presented here linking
any two specific rigs. This Court refuses to stretch the statute and regulations here to accommodate
an unknown number of rigs in unknown locations across Texas and Oklahoma, particularly when
the general rule is "separate facilities are separate sites." Accordingly, the Court finds that plaintiffs
failed to raise a genuine fact issue concerning whether the rigs in the San Antonio, TX region, the
Woodward, OK region, and the North Central Texas region all have the same inextricable
operational purpose under 20 C.F.R. § 639.3(i)(3).
Further, because the plaintiffs have failed under two separate
639.3(i)(3) factors, the Court
need not address the remaining factor of whether the rigs share the same staff and equipment.
C. There is no evidence that the rigs here are "truly unusual" organizational situations
under 20 C.F.R. § 639.3(i)(8).
Plaintiffs make a passing assertion that "Defendant's organization may be a 'truly unusual
organization situation' pursuant to 20 C.F.R.
639.3(i)(8)." PIs.' Resp. 5-6. But rather than present
evidence as to this unusual organization, plaintiffs argue that the present motion does not address
that "theory of liability." Id But for the reasons articulated above, this Court disagrees. The
aggregation of rigs into a single site of employment is essential to plaintiffs' recovery here.
Further, plaintiffs incorrectly construe 20 C.F.R.
639.3(i)(8) as a theory of liability. Rather,
it is more accurately a safety valve to allow courts to aggregate workplaces into single sites of
employment if an employer has designed their organizational structure to evade the WARN Act.
However, plaintiffs provide no evidence that the organizational structure is "unusual." To the
assertalbeit without evidencethat Trinidad Drilling follows industry
standards. Neither to plaintiffs present any evidence that the defendant attempted to evade the
WARN Act's requirements when it organized the rigs. At bottom, there is no evidence that the rigs
constitute a truly unusual organizational situation under 20 C.F.R.
This determination covers nIl theories of Liability under the WARN Act.
Plaintiffs argue that the Trinidad Drilling's motion for summary judgment only addresses
liability under 20 C.F.R. § 639.3(i)(3) and (4), hut does not address whether the terminations
constituted "Plant Closings" under 20 C.F.R.
639.3(b), (j), or whether Trinidad Drilling's
organization is a "truly unusual organizational structure" under 20 C.F.R. § 639.3(i)(8). Pis.'
Opp'n 5-6. According to plaintiffs, even if this Court grants the instant summary judgment motion,
the case must survive. But the only theory of liability here is that employees were terminated
without the notice required by the WARN Act. As noted, the WARN Act only requires advance
notice in the event of a mass layoff or plant closing, and both events require at least 50 employees
be affected at a single
Defendant's motion for summary judgment specifically
maintains that there were not enough employees
Taken as single sites, there were not enough employees at any rig to trigger the requirements
In sum a reasonable jury could not find that Trinidad Drilling ordered a mass layoff or plant
closing under the WARN Act. Plaintiffs failed to raise a genuine fact issue on whether the
employee reductions at any of its rigs resulted in the loss of employment at a single site of
employment for at least 50 employees. Plaintiffs have presented no evidence that Trinidad
Drilling's rigs can be aggregated into single sites of employment based on geographic location.
Specifically, they have failed to raise a genuine fact issue on whether the rigs are in a reasonable
geographic proximity or have a common operational purpose.
A separate order shall issue granting summary judgment.
Royce C. Lamberth
United States District Judge
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