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Rumpz v. American Drilling & Testing

April 8, 2010

ROBERT RUMPZ, PLAINTIFF,
v.
AMERICAN DRILLING & TESTING, INC., A MICHIGAN CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Avern Cohn

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

I. Introduction

This is a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) case under 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. with a pendant state law claim. Plaintiff Robert Rumpz (Rumpz) claims that defendant American Drilling & Testing Inc. (American Drilling), his former employer, failed to properly compensate him for work performed since 1991. The complaint is in two counts:

(I) Violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq.; and

(II) Violation of the Michigan Minimum Wage Law (MMWL), MCL § 408.381 et seq.

Now before the Court is American Drilling's motion for partial dismissal under FED. R. CIV .P. 12(b)(6). American Drilling asserts that Rumpz's claims accruing prior to March 16, 2006 are barred by the statutes of limitations and are not subject to a defense of equitable estoppel. For the reasons that follow, the motion will be denied.

II. Facts and Procedural History

A. Facts

The following facts are taken from Rumpz's amended complaint.

Rumpz began working for American Drilling in March 1991 as a driller.

From March 1991 until 1996, American Drilling did not pay Rumpz for waiting time, vehicle loading time, or travel time between American Drilling's place of business and its work sites. Rumpz and other employees objected to American Drilling's failure to pay for these activities.

American Drilling's owner, Harley Corbin (Corbin), told the employees that he had looked into the matter and that American Drilling's compensation policy complied with applicable laws. Rumpz alleges that American Drilling knew its actions violated the law and Corbin told the employees that it was complying with the law to prevent them from bringing legal action against it. Rumpz says that, in reliance on American Drilling's averments regarding the legality of its compensation policies, he refrained from initiating legal action against it.

Beginning in 1996 American Drilling paid Rumpz for waiting time, vehicle loading time, and travel time. However, it did not count this as compensable time for purposes of calculating Rumpz's eligibility for overtime compensation.

Corbin again represented to the employees that American Drilling's compensation policy was fully compliant with applicable laws. Rumpz alleges that American Drilling knew its actions violated the law and Corbin told the employees that it was complying with the law to prevent them from bringing legal action against it. Rumpz says that, in reliance on American Drilling's averments regarding the legality of its compensation policies, he refrained from initiating legal action against them.

B. Procedural History

On March 16, 2009 Rumpz filed a complaint against American Drilling.

On July 20, 2009 American Drilling filed a motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) as its first responsive pleading.

On October 23, 2009 the Court issued an order denying in part and staying in part American Drilling's motion. (Dkt. 14). The Court found that all of Rumpz's claims that had accrued prior to March 16, 2006 would be time barred unless the statutes of limitations were tolled. The Court also found that the continuing violations doctrine was not applicable to Rumpz's claim. Finally, the Court found that the doctrine of equitable estoppel could provide a basis to toll the statutes of limitations but that Rumpz had failed to plead facts necessary to establish such a defense. Rumpz was permitted to file an ...


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