United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
C. BUCKLEW United States District Judge.
cause comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion For
Summary Judgment. (Doc. No. 72). Plaintiffs oppose the
motion. (Doc. No. 78). With the Court's permission, both
Plaintiffs and Defendant filed reply briefs. (Doc. No. 81,
82). Because genuine issues of material fact exist, this
Court denies Defendant's motion for summary judgment on
Plaintiffs' Fair Labor Standards Act claim. The Court
declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over
Plaintiff's claim under Florida's Deceptive and
Unfair Trade Practices Act.
Standard of Review
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). The Court must draw all inferences from
the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-movant
and resolve all reasonable doubts in that party's favor.
See Porter v. Ray, 461 F.3d 1315, 1320 (11th Cir.
2006)(citation omitted). 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. See id. (citation
omitted). 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 there is a genuine issue for trial. See
id. (citation omitted).
Estime Francois and Renette Ordeus allege that they were
formerly employed by Defendant Gulf Coast Transportation,
Inc. as taxicab drivers and that Defendant misclassified them
as independent contractors. In the summer of 2015, Plaintiffs
entered into agreements with Defendant, titled
“Agreement for Independent Vehicle-For-Hire
Operators” (the “Agreement”), which purport
to outline their relationship with Defendant. (Doc. No. 78-2;
Doc. No. 78-3).
holds itself out as a taxicab company. Defendant owns
taxicabs and certificates enabling its taxicabs to be used as
taxicabs within Hillsborough County. Taxicab drivers,
including Plaintiffs, entered into twelve-month Agreements
with Defendant to lease one of its taxicabs for a certain
period of time for a certain amount of money. Specifically,
they could lease a taxicab for a 12-hour period for $86, a
24-hour period for $98, or a weekly period for $560. (Doc.
No. 78-4, ¶ 5; Doc. No. 78-5, ¶ 5). In return, the
drivers would drive the taxicabs for that period of time and
would earn all of the money they generated while driving.
outfitted the taxicabs with a radio communication system so
that the drivers could receive transportation requests that
Defendant dispatched. Defendant also outfitted the taxicabs
with a fare meter and a laptop that could accept credit card
the Agreement explicitly states that the taxicab drivers are
independent contractors (Doc. No. 78-2, ¶ 8; Doc. No.
78-3, ¶ 8), Plaintiffs allege that they were, in fact,
employees because Defendant controlled the manner in which
they performed their work and made them economically
dependent on Defendant.
result, Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint asserting three
claims. (Doc. No. 6). First, Plaintiffs contend that due to
Defendant's willful misclassification of them as
independent contractors, Defendant did not pay them any wages
at all, in violation of the minimum wage requirements of the
Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).
Plaintiffs contend that the misclassification of them as
independent contractors resulted in substantial cost savings
to Defendant (due to its not having to pay employment taxes)
and gave Defendant an unfair competitive advantage as a
taxicab company. Therefore, Plaintiffs contend that Defendant
violated Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices
Plaintiff Francois, individually, asserted a conversion claim
under Florida common law due to Defendant's failure to
return taxicab bond money that he had paid. However, the
Court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss this claim.
(Doc. No. 40).
Motion for Summary Judgment
pending before this Court is Defendant's motion for
summary judgment on Plaintiffs' FLSA and FDUTPA claims.
Accordingly, the Court will address Defendant's motion as
to each claim.
FLSA Minimum Wage Claim
argues that it is entitled to summary judgment on
Plaintiffs' FLSA claim, because Plaintiffs were
independent contractors, not employees. When determining
whether a person is an employee or an independent contractor
under the FLSA, the Eleventh Circuit ...