United States District Court, S.D. Florida
P. GAYLES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
CAUSE comes before the Court upon Defendants'
Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF No. 29]. The Court has
reviewed the Motion and the pertinent portions of the record
and is otherwise fully advised. For the reasons stated below,
the Motion is denied.
Roger Garcia (“Plaintiff”) brings this action
against his former employer, JIA Logistics
(“JIA”), and an owner of JIA, Candis Lopez
“Defendants”), for unpaid overtime wages. Because
Plaintiff was a driver for JIA, the central question for the
Court is whether Plaintiff is exempt from the Fair Labor
Standards Act (“FLSA”) under the Motor Carrier
Act (“MCA”). To make this determination, the
Court must analyze the nature of both Plaintiff and JIA's
provides ground transportation in Florida to freight
forwarders who are shipping goods and materials from all over
the world. JIA's drivers pick up goods from one location
in Florida and drive them to a second location, often the
port or the airport, where the goods are then transported to
a final destination. Although JIA occasionally transports
goods that originated and will remain in Florida, the
majority of the goods that JIA handles will not stop in
Florida, but rather will continue to destinations outside of
the state. JIA sometimes holds third-party goods for a few
days in its own warehouses, but eventually delivers the goods
to a freight forwarder. JIA does not distribute goods or
materials to an end consumer from JIA's warehouses. In
short, JIA's drivers serve as one leg of the interstate
journey for many different goods and materials.
registered with the United States Department of
Transportation (“DOT”) and has a DOT motor
carrier identification number. During the relevant time period,
JIA's fleet included two to three trucks each with a
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (“GVWR”) of over 26,
000 pounds. JIA's fleet also included a van with a
GVWR of 5, 449 pounds. See ECF No. 33-6.
Roger Garcia (“Garcia”) was a driver for JIA.
Plaintiff had a Class A driver's license with a hazmat
endorsement that enabled him to drive vehicles as large as a
tractor trailer and to transport hazardous materials.
Plaintiff only drove routes in Florida, but consistently
handled goods that were traveling through the state en route
to other destinations. Plaintiff, at times, transported guns,
ammunition, explosives, and other hazardous materials.
Plaintiff primarily drove JIA's trucks, but drove
JIA's van approximately 1 to 2 times per month.
1, 2016, Plaintiff filed this action alleging that Defendants
failed to pay him overtime wages in violation of the FLSA. On
December 28, 2016, Defendants moved for summary judgment,
arguing that (1) pursuant to the MCA, Plaintiff was exempt
from the provisions of the FLSA; (2) even if Plaintiff was
covered under the FLSA, Lopez is not individually liable; and
(3) Plaintiff is not entitled to liquidated damages because
Defendants did not willfully violate the FLSA. In response,
Plaintiff argues that the MCA does not apply, and, even if it
did, the SAFETEA-LU Technical Corrections Act of 2008
(“TCA”) places Plaintiff back within the purview
of the FLSA.
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) “[t]he court
shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows 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). “[T]he plain language of Rule 56[a] mandates the
entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery
and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing
sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential
to that party's case, and on which that party will bear
the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d
moving party bears the initial burden to show the district
court, by reference to materials on file, that there are no
genuine issues of material fact that should be decided at
trial. Only when that burden has been met does the burden
shift to the non-moving party to demonstrate that there is
indeed a material issue of fact that precludes summary
judgment.” Clark v. Coats & Clarks, Inc.,
929 F.3d 604, 608 (11th Cir. 1991). Rule 56(e)
“requires the nonmoving party to go beyond the
pleadings and by [his] own affidavits, or by the
‘depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, ' designate ‘specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'”
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. Thus, the nonmoving party
“may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of
his pleadings, but … must set forth specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). The inferences drawn from the underlying facts must
be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007).
The FLSA and the MCA
FLSA requires employers to pay hourly employees one and a
half times their regular hourly rate if they work over forty
hours in a week. 29 U.S.C. § 207 (a)(1). However, the
FLSA has several exemptions, including the MCA. The MCA
exemption applies to “any employee with respect to whom
the Secretary of Transportation has the power to establish
qualifications and maximum hours of service.” 29 U.S.C.
§ 213(b)(1). The MCA's applicability depends
“on whether the Secretary has the power to regulate,
not on whether the Secretary has actually exercised such
power.” Baez v. Wells Fargo Armored Serv.
Corp., 938 F.2d 180, 181 n.2 (11th Cir. 1991).
employer, JIA has the burden to show that the MCA exemption
applies. See Abel v. Southern Shuttle Serv., 631
F.3d 1210, 1212 (11th Cir. 2011). Therefore, JIA must
establish (1) that it is subject to the jurisdiction of the
Secretary of Transportation (the “Secretary”) and
(2) that its employees' duties directly affect the safety
of operation of motor vehicles in the transportation on the
public highways of passengers or property in interstate or
foreign commerce. See 29 C.F.R § 782.2. See
also Baez, 938 F.2d at 181-82; Walters v. Am. Coach
Lines of Miami, Inc., 575 F.3d 1221, 1227 (11th Cir.
2009) (“The applicability of the motor carrier
exemption depends both on the class to which his employer
belongs and on the class of work involved in the
employee's job.”) (internal quotation omitted).
JIA's Activities and Jurisdiction under the MCA
satisfy the first prong of the MCA exemption, that JIA is
subject to the Secretary's jurisdiction, JIA must show
that it (a) is a motor carrier and (b) transports passengers