United States District Court, S.D. Florida
JOAN C. KUEHN, Plaintiff,
KRISTINA REED, P.A., doing business as REED GRIFFITH AND MORAN, et al., Defendants.
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
L. ROSENBERG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment [DE 60]. The Court has carefully considered
the Motion, Plaintiff's Response thereto [DE 64],
Defendants' Reply [DE 68], and the record, and is
otherwise fully advised in the premises. For the reasons set
forth below, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
are Reed Griffith and Moran, a law firm, and Attorneys James
J. Moran and Kristina Reed, partners at the law firm.
Plaintiff Joan C. Kuehn worked for Defendants from January
2012 until October 2018 and performed work associated with
real estate closings. Her job duties included requesting and
collecting information and documents, preparing documents,
examining chains of title, producing title commitments,
attending closings, and wiring funds. It is undisputed that
Kuehn examined chains of title and produced title commitments
only until mid-2016, after which time a third party performed
those duties. DE 65 at 7 ¶¶ 61, 62; DE 69 at 7
¶¶ 61, 62.
Complaint raises one count of failure to pay overtime pay in
violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, as
amended, 29 U.S.C. § 201et seq.
(“FLSA”). DE 1. Kuehn seeks overtime pay in the
amount of $82, 555.97 for hours that she allegedly worked
between 2016 and 2018, as well as liquidated damages, fees,
and costs. DE 21. Defendants maintain that Kuehn is exempt
from the FLSA's overtime pay provision and that she
received all monies due to her. DE 23; DE 26.
their Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendants contend that
the undisputed material facts establish that Kuehn is exempt
from the FLSA's overtime pay provision because she was
employed in a bona fide administrative capacity. Defendants
alternatively contend that Kuehn has not established that the
overtime pay provision applies to her.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
judgment is appropriate where “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 is
‘material' if it would affect the outcome of the
suit under the governing law, and ‘genuine' if a
reasonable trier of fact could return judgment for the
non-moving party.” Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of
Fla. v. United States, 516 F.3d 1235, 1243 (11th Cir.
2008). When deciding a summary judgment motion, a court views
the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party and draws all reasonable inferences in that party's
favor. Furcron v. Mail Ctrs. Plus, LLC, 843 F.3d
1295, 1304 (11th Cir. 2016). The court does not weigh
conflicting evidence or make credibility determinations.
Id. Upon the discovery of a genuine dispute of
material fact, the court must deny summary judgment and
proceed to trial. Jones v. UPS Ground Freight, 683
F.3d 1283, 1292 (11th Cir. 2012).
movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to a
material fact, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to
come forward with specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial. Shaw v. City of Selma, 884
F.3d 1093, 1098 (11th Cir. 2018). The non-moving party does
not satisfy this burden “if the rebuttal evidence is
merely colorable, or is not significantly probative of a
disputed fact.” Jones, 683 F.3d at 1292
(quotation marks omitted). The non-moving party must
“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.” Id. (quotation marks omitted). A
non-conclusory affidavit based on personal knowledge, even if
uncorroborated and self-serving, can create a genuine dispute
of material fact that defeats summary judgment. United
States v. Stein, 881 F.3d 853, 857-59 (11th Cir. 2018).
The Administrative Employee Exemption
FLSA's minimum wage and overtime provisions do not apply
to an employee employed in a bona fide administrative
capacity. 29 U.S.C. § 213(a)(1); see generally
Id. §§ 206, 207. The phrase “employee
employed in a bona fide administrative capacity” means
an employee (1) compensated at a particular minimum salary,
(2) “[w]hose primary duty is the performance of office
or non-manual work directly related to the management or
general business operations of the employer or the
employer's customers, ” and (3) “[w]hose
primary duty includes the exercise of discretion and
independent judgment with respect to matters of
significance.” 29 C.F.R. § 541.200(a). Kuehn does
not dispute that she met the first two elements of this
administrative employee exemption, and, thus, the Court turns
to consideration of the exemption's third element.
See DE 64 at 12 n.64.
exercise of discretion and independent judgment generally
involves “the comparison and the evaluation of possible
courses of conduct, and acting or making a decision after the
various possibilities have been considered.” 29 C.F.R.
§ 541.202(a). Determination of whether a duty includes
the exercise of discretion and independent judgment is based
on all of the facts of a particular employment situation.
Id. § 541.202(b). Factors to consider when
making such a determination include, but are not limited to,
whether the employee has authority to formulate, affect,
interpret, or implement management policies or operating
practices; whether the employee carries out major assignments
in conducting the operations of the business; whether the
employee performs work that affects business operations to a
substantial degree, even if the employee's assignments
are related to operation of a particular segment of the
business; whether the employee has authority to commit the
employer in matters that have significant financial impact;
whether the employee has authority to waive or deviate from
established policies and procedures without prior approval;
whether the employee has authority to negotiate and bind the
company on significant matters; whether the employee provides
consultation or expert advice to management; whether the
employee is involved in planning long- or short-term business