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Davis v. City of Reading

United States District Court, D. Kansas

August 28, 2014

The CITY OF READING, KANSAS, A Kansas Municipal Corporation, Defendant.


CARLOS MURGUIA, District Judge.

This case is before the court on defendant City of Reading, Kansas's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 17). Plaintiffs Galen Davis and Robin Humphreys allege defendant violated the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") by inadequately compensating plaintiffs for work performed. Defendant argues that both plaintiffs' claims are barred by the FLSA's statute of limitations and that plaintiffs have failed to establish a prima facie case of any FLSA violation. The court denies defendant's motion for the following reasons.

1. Legal Standard for Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate if the moving party demonstrates that there is "no genuine issue as to any material fact" and that it is "entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). In applying this standard, the court views the record's evidence and reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Adler v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 144 F.3d 664, 670 (10th Cir. 1998) (citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)). "[T]here must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the plaintiff. The judge's inquiry, therefore, unavoidably asks whether reasonable jurors could find by a preponderance of the evidence that the plaintiff is entitled to a verdict-whether there is [evidence] upon which a jury can properly proceed to find a verdict for the party producing it, upon whom the onus of proof is imposed." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986).

2. Genuine Issues of Material Fact Concerning FLSA Violations

Defendant contends plaintiffs have failed to establish a prima facie case of any FLSA violation because they rely solely on their own testimony, an "unsubstantiated and uncorroborated notebook, " and have not specified, by citing to the record, the days and hours for which they unlawfully did not receive any overtime pay or produced any other evidence to substantiate their claims. (Doc. 17 at 12-13.) Defendant's argument fails for two reasons.

First, defendant, as the moving party, has the burden of producing evidence upon which the court will evaluate its motion for summary judgment. Defendant supports its motion with an exhibit containing four deposition transcripts. (Doc. 17-1.) While each transcript includes a list of the exhibits discussed in that deposition (Doc. 17-1 at 5, 21, 43, 61), defendant did not attach any of those exhibits to its summary judgment motion. Defendant nonetheless cited to an unattached exhibit to support its factual allegation. (Doc. 17 at 2, ¶ 7.) The court does not accept defendant's factual assertions as being supported when the record lacks the cited material. Moreover, nowhere in defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 17) or defendant's Reply to Plaintiffs' Response and In Support of Its Own Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 24) does defendant specifically refute plaintiffs' paystubs or any pages of plaintiff Humphreys's notebook, which contained a log of the hours plaintiffs worked and a description of that work. Defendant also never contradicts plaintiffs' evidence with its own records. Instead, defendant either incorrectly places the burden to develop and cite to the record on plaintiff, or defendant makes generalizations about plaintiffs' records lacking corroboration or substantiation.

Second, defendant stipulated in the Pretrial Order that all "Reports of Hours and pay stubs produced by the Plaintiffs and Defendants" are admissible for purposes of summary judgment and trial. (Doc. 15 at 2.) Defendant also correctly cites to Garcia, which states that plaintiffs' testimony and documentary evidence are appropriate ways to prove their prima facie case. 890 F.Supp.2d at 1284. Plaintiffs rely on precisely that evidence-their own testimony and documentary evidence that includes multiple pay stubs and various pages from plaintiff Humphreys's notebook. As such, plaintiffs have provided the requisite evidence to establish a prima facie case that defendant violated the FLSA.

For both of these reasons, the court denies defendant's motion for summary judgment. Even if defendant had included the missing exhibits, defendant's arguments question the credibility of plaintiffs' evidence-not its admissibility. A reasonable jury could find that defendant failed to appropriately compensate plaintiffs because it believes that plaintiff Humphreys's notebook is more reliable than defendant's records. Now, the court reviews whether plaintiffs' claims are barred by the FLSA's statute of limitations.

3. Statute of Limitations

The FLSA provides a two-year statute of limitations, unless the employer acted willfully, in which case the statute of limitations is three years. 29 U.S.C. § 255(a). Defendant is correct that plaintiffs' claims are barred by § 255's two-year statute of limitations clause, but plaintiffs contend their claims are timely under § 255's extension because defendant acted willfully. The dispositive question therefore is whether plaintiffs can show by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant acted willfully. If so, plaintiffs' claims are timely; if not, plaintiffs' claims are time-barred under § 255. In answering that question, the court views the record and any inferences from it in a light most favorable to the non-moving parties, the plaintiffs.

A. Threshold Standard for § 255's Extension of the Statute of Limitations

"For § 255's extension to obtain, an employer need not knowingly have violated the FLSA; rather, the three-year term can apply where an employer disregarded the very possibility' that it was violating the statute... although we will not presume that conduct was willful in the absence of evidence." Alvarez v. IBP, Inc., 339 F.3d 894, 908-9 (9th Cir. 2003) (citing Herman v. RSR Sec. Servs. Ltd., 172 F.3d 132, 141 (2d Cir.1999); Cox v. Brookshire Grocery Co., 919 F.2d 354, 356 (5th Cir. 1990)) (internal quotations omitted). "The employee has the burden of proving the employer acted willfully." Garcia v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 890 F.Supp.2d 1273, 1286 (D. Kan. 2012) (citing McLaughlin v. Richland Shoe Co., 486 U.S. 128 (1988)). Willfulness may be found when the employer either "knew or showed reckless disregard for the matter of whether its conduct was prohibited by the statute." McLaughlin, 486 U.S. at 133; Smith v. Aztec Well Servicing Co., 462 F.3d 1274, 1283 (10th Cir. 2006); Reich v. ...

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