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Cody Dudley v. All Seasons Landscaping

November 2, 2011

CODY DUDLEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ALL SEASONS LANDSCAPING, INC., DEFENDANT.



ORDER

This cause comes before the Court pursuant to Defendant All Seasons Landscaping, Inc.'s Motion for Final Summary Judgment (Doc. # 27) and Plaintiff Cody Dudley's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. # 38). Dudley filed a Response Memorandum in Opposition to All Seasons' Motion for Final Summary Judgment (Doc. # 32) and All Seasons filed an Amended Reply thereto (Doc. # 46). All Seasons filed a Response in Opposition to Dudley's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. # 41) and Dudley filed a Reply thereto (Doc. # 47). For the reasons that follow, All Seasons' Motion for Summary Judgment is denied, and Dudley's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment is granted.

I. Background

Dudley was an employee of All Seasons, a domestic landscaping company, from August 2009 through May 2010. On July 13, 2010, Dudley filed this action seeking unpaid overtime compensation, liquidated damages, declaratory relief, and reasonable attorneys' fees and costs pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq., and 29 U.S.C. §§ 2201 and 2202. (Doc. # 1). On January 27, 2011, All Seasons tendered a check to Dudley in the amount of $726.55 ($900.00 less applicable wage withholdings) for unpaid overtime and a second check in the amount of $900.00 for liquidated damages under the FLSA.*fn1

II. 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 party.

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, 919 (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 burden, the non-moving party must then 'go beyond the pleadings,' and by its own affidavits, or by 'depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file,' designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Jeffery v. Sarasota White Sox, Inc., 64 F.3d 590, 593-94 (11th Cir. 1995) (quoting 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 non-moving party's favor. Shotz v. City of Plantation, Fla., 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 nothing "more than a repetition of his conclusional allegations," summary judgment is not only proper, but required. Morris v. Ross, 663 F.2d 1032, 1034 (11th Cir. 1981).

III. Defendant All Seasons' Motion for Final Summary Judgment

All Seasons moves this Court for summary judgment on the grounds that it tendered the full amount of the relief to which Dudley is entitled. As such, All Seasons argues, this action is now moot. See, e.g., Gathagan v. Rag Shop/Hollywood, Inc., No. 04-80520-CIV, 2005 WL 6504414 (S.D. Fla. Feb. 10, 2005)(defendant's tender of plaintiff's maximum recoverable damages rendered plaintiff's case moot); Cameron-Grant v. Maxim Healthcare Servs., Inc., 347 F.3d 1240, 1244 (11th Cir. 2003)(mootness doctrine applies to FLSA actions); Mackenzie v. Kindred Hosps. E., L.L.C., 276 F. Supp. 2d 1211, 1219 (M.D. Fla. 2003)(offer of full relief eliminates a legal dispute upon which federal jurisdiction can be based and renders the case moot). Dudley argues that All Seasons' calculation of Dudley's damages is inaccurate and the amount of overtime compensation owed to Dudley remains in controversy.

All Seasons tendered to Dudley a check in the amount of $726.55 ($900.00 less applicable wage withholdings) for unpaid overtime and a second check in the amount of $900.00 for liquidated damages under the FLSA. The offer tendered by All Seasons is based on Dudley's time cards and overtime hours reflected on those time cards. Dudley, however, submits that he worked hours in excess of those reported on his time cards. Specifically, Dudley alleges that he "worked outside of the time that was actually punched on [his] punch card," including "[g]assing equipment, cleaning out debris from the back of the truck, putting it in the dumpster, [and] cleaning up around the shop area." (Doc. # 32-4, Dudley Depo., 63:19-25, 64:1-9). Dudley also alleges that he clocked out early at 3:15 p.m. to take the company truck for an oil change. (Id. at 26:21-25; 27:1-11). These allegations are sufficient to raise a genuine issue of material fact such that the "determination of exactly how many hours Plaintiff was improperly compensated is ... a question of fact appropriate for a jury." Solano v. A Navas Party Prod., Inc., 728 F. Supp. 2d 1334, 1344 (S.D. Fla. 2010).

All Seasons argues that if Dudley worked time in excess of what he reported on his time cards, he failed to notify All Seasons. There are commonly cited cases holding that an employer does not have knowledge of uncompensated overtime, and therefore is not liable for uncompensated overtime, when employee-submitted time sheets show the claimed overtime did not occur. See Gaylord v. Miami-Dade Cnty., 78 F. Supp. 2d 1320, 1325 (M.D. Fla. 1999)(citing Brumbelow v. Quality Mills, Inc., 462 F.2d 1324, 1327 (5th Cir. 1972)); Newton v. City of Henderson, 47 F.3d 746, 748-49 (5th Cir. 1995). In each of these cases, however, the plaintiffs were responsible for reporting their work hours and the employers had no knowledge of the plaintiffs' off-the-clock hours and no reason to know that the information reported by the employee was inaccurate. "In reviewing the extent of an employer's awareness, a court need only inquire whether the circumstances ... were such that the employer either ...


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