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Burkett v. Hickory Foods, Inc.

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

October 7, 2019

Ronald Burkett, Plaintiff,
v.
Hickory Foods, Inc., Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          PATRICIA D. BARKSDALE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the Court in this case under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219, is the parties' joint motion under Lynn's Food Stores, Inc. v. U.S. by & through U.S. Dep't of Labor, 679 F.2d 1350, 1354 (11th Cir. 1982), for approval of a settlement agreement and dismissal of the action with prejudice. Doc. 17.

         Background

          In May 2019, Ronald Burkett sued Hickory Foods, Inc., on behalf of himself and others similarly situated. Doc. 1. In the complaint, he alleges these facts.

         Hickory distributes meat wholesale to grocery retailers. Doc. 1 ¶ 14. Hickory hired Burkett in January 2010 as a machine technician. Doc. 1 ¶ 20. Burkett would weld, build, troubleshoot, and repair meat-manufacturing equipment. Doc. 1 ¶ 21. From January 2010 to July 2018, Hickory failed to pay Burkett at one and one-half times his regular rate of pay for any overtime hours worked. Doc. 1 ¶ 22. He worked more than forty hours a week most weeks. Doc. 1 ¶ 24. Hickory failed to maintain proper time records. Doc. 1 ¶ 24.

         He alleges the facts are common to a class of machine technicians who worked for Hickory within the last three years and were not paid time-and-a-half for overtime hours. Doc. 1 ¶¶ 25-34.

         He brings one claim: a FLSA claim for failure to pay overtime wages, Doc. 1 ¶¶ 35-43. He seeks certification of the action as a class action; overtime wages; liquidated damages; pre- and post-judgment interest; attorney's fees, costs, and expenses; and a declaration stating that Burkett violated FLSA, failed to keep accurate time records, has a legal duty to pay overtime wages, failed to prove a good-faith defense, and that Burkett is entitled to damages and attorney's fees. Doc. 1 ¶ 43. He also filed a notice of consent to join the action. Docs. 2, 2-1.

         Hickory filed an answer denying liability. Doc. 7. Hickory raises 29 affirmative or other defenses, including that Hickory is not a proper party to the action, executive or administrative exemptions apply, Burkett cannot properly represent the class, and that Hickory did not act willfully. Doc. 7. Regarding the proper entity to sue, Hickory states, “Defendant admits that Hickory is a management company that provides administrative and payroll services to [nonparty] Flanders Provision Company LLC, ” and that Flanders “is engaged in the manufacturing and wholesale distribution of meat for retail grocery customers throughout the United States.” Doc. 7 ¶¶ 14, 17.

         In July 2019, Burkett answered the Court's interrogatories. Doc. 13. He states his regularly scheduled work period was Monday through Friday from 3:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m., but because of the work he was often required to work longer or on the weekends. Doc. 13 at 1. He states that, in 2014, his title changed from “technician” to “supervisor, ” but his duties did not change. Doc. 13 at 1. He states his regular rate of pay was $960 a week. Doc. 13 at 1-2. He provides an accounting from May 2016 (assuming a three-year statute of limitations) to July 2018. Doc. 13 at 2. He states he worked approximately 13 hours of overtime each week. Doc. 13 at 2. He answers the interrogatories on wages owed as this:

d. pay received versus pay claimed: Please see response to 7(e) below.
e. total amount claimed: I am unable to accurately determine the amount that I am owed for unpaid overtime without additional documentation from Defendant. However, the following is a good faith estimate of the wages which I am owed. $51, 948.00 plus liquidated damages, and attorney's fees and costs calculated as follows:
With the FLSA's 3-year statute of limitations which looks hack to May 13, 2016, I was employed a total of 111 work weeks. During this time, I worked an average of 13 hours of overtime each week.
Based on my recollection of the amount that I was paid each week, my damages are:1
$960.00/53 hours = $18.11 regular hourly rate of pay $18.11/2 = $9.06 half-time overtime rate
$9.06/hour x 13 overtime hours per week x 111 weeks = $13, 073.58, plus an equal and additional amount for liquidated damages, in addition to attorneys' ...

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