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Thomas v. Carrington's Caring Angels, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division

January 18, 2018

AGATHA THOMAS, MARIE EDWARD, and ANGEL DANCIL, Plaintiffs,
v.
CARRINGTON'S CARING ANGELS, LLC, STEPHANIE CARRINGTON, RONSHAI DAVIS, and AAJA LOVE CARE, INC., Defendants.

          ORDER

          VIRGINIA M. HERNANDEZ COVINGTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court pursuant to Defendants Carrington's Caring Angels, LLC and Stephanie Carrington's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. # 44), which was filed on December 10, 2017. Plaintiffs Agatha Thomas, Marie Edward, and Angel Dancil filed a response in opposition (Doc. # 46) on December 21, 2017. For the reasons that follow, the Court denies the Motion.

         Discussion

         Three Plaintiff home healthcare workers (Agatha Thomas, Marie Edward, and Angel Dancil) sue four separate Defendants (Carrington's Caring Angels, LLC, Stephanie Carrington, Ronshai Davis, and AAJA Love Care, Inc.) in this FLSA action. (Doc. # 1). Two Defendants, Davis and AAJA Love Care, Inc., are in default and have not participated in the proceedings. (Doc. ## 25, 26). The two active Defendants, Carrington's Caring Angels, LLC and Stephanie Carrington, have filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. # 44). The Carrington Defendants argue: (1) they are not an “enterprise” covered by the FLSA; (2) they had no involvement with Thomas and Dancil; and (3) Edward worked as an independent contractor for only three weeks and was not an employee. As explained below, the Carrington Defendants have not met their burden of establishing that they are entitled to relief as a matter of law on these issues. The Court accordingly denies the Motion for Summary Judgment.

         A. 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, 918 (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 there is a genuine issue for trial.” Jeffery v. Sarasota White Sox, Inc., 64 F.3d 590, 593-94 (11th Cir. 1995)(citing 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, 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)). But, 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).

         B. FLSA Coverage and the Home Care Final Rule

         The Complaint alleges that the Carrington Defendants “are an enterprise engaged in commerce within the meaning of the FLSA.” (Doc. # 1 at ¶ 17). Generally speaking, “the FLSA covers a company if the company's gross receipts equal or exceed $500, 000 and if the company employs any person who either engages in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce or handles, sells, or otherwise works on goods or materials that have been moved in or produced for commerce.” Clements v. Randolph Hotel, Inc., No. 8:16-cv-3395-T-23TBM, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76261, at *1 (M.D. Fla. May 19, 2017)(internal citation omitted). The Carrington Defendants assert they have not grossed $500, 000, and therefore, enterprise coverage does not exist. “Carrington's Caring Angels, LLC is just an up and coming business and does not make anywhere close to $500, 000 per year.” (Carrington Aff. Doc. # 45 at ¶ 6).

         Plaintiffs do not weigh in on whether the Carrington Defendants meet the $500, 000 gross income requirement for FLSA enterprise coverage. Instead, they contend that recent legislation, the Home Care Final Rule, mandates Plaintiffs be paid FLSA overtime: “Regardless of the gross earning of the Employer, the change in the law effective January 1, 2015, in essence, makes an agency providing home care services obligated to pay minimum wages and overtime pay.” (Doc. # 46 at 18).

         Plaintiffs explain that, prior to October 13, 2015, the FLSA exempted domestic service employees from minimum wage and maximum hour requirements. See 29 U.S.C. § 213(a)(15). But, on October 1, 2013, the Department of Labor issued the Home Care Final Rule. 29 C.F.R. § 552. The Home Care Final Rule became effective on October 13, 2015, after various appellate proceedings took place. See Alves v. Affiliated Home Care of Putnam, Inc., No. 16-cv-1593 (KMK), 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17893, at *7 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 7, 2017)(describing application of the Home Care Final Rule).

         Plaintiffs submit that, under the Home Care Final Rule, direct care workers are deemed covered under the FLSA and are entitled to overtime pay if any of the following apply:

1. If they are employed by an agency or another employer other than the person being assisted or that ...

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