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Palacio v. Woodland Turf Sports Center, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division

September 27, 2017

PABLO PALACIO, Plaintiff,
v.
WOODLAND TURF SPORTS CENTER, INC., et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          ELLEN S. CARMODY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (E C F No. 40). The parties have consented to proceed in this Court for all further proceedings, including trial and an order of final judgment. 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1). By Order of Reference, the Honorable Janet T. Neff referred this case to the undersigned. For the reasons discussed herein, Defendants' motion is granted and this action dismissed.

         BACKGROUND

         The following allegations are contained in Plaintiff's amended complaint. (ECF No. 14). Plaintiff began working for Woodland Turf Sports Center, Inc. (Woodland) in August 2006. Plaintiff discontinued this employment on a unspecified date. Plaintiff was rehired by Defendants in October 2011 and maintained this employment until April 2014. During the course of his employment, Plaintiff was paid on an hourly basis. While Plaintiff often worked more than forty (40) hours during a workweek, Defendants did not pay Plaintiff the appropriate overtime wage for such work. Defendants also “did not compensate Plaintiff his promised hourly wage for all work performed” and “did not compensate Plaintiff for all the hours he worked.” Plaintiff initiated this action on February 17, 2016, against Woodland. On May 4, 2016, Plaintiff submitted an amended complaint against Woodland as well as its owner Duane Vander Ark alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and state law. (ECF No. 14). Defendants now move for summary judgment.

         SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

         Summary judgment “shall” be granted “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 party moving for summary judgment can satisfy its burden by demonstrating “that the respondent, having had sufficient opportunity for discovery, has no evidence to support an essential element of his or her case.” Minadeo v. ICI Paints, 398 F.3d 751, 761 (6th Cir. 2005). Once the moving party demonstrates that “there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case, ” the non-moving party “must identify specific facts that can be established by admissible evidence, which demonstrate a genuine issue for trial.” Amini v. Oberlin College, 440 F.3d 350, 357 (6th Cir. 2006).

         While the Court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, the party opposing the summary judgment motion “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Amini, 440 F.3d at 357. The existence of a mere “scintilla of evidence” in support of the non-moving party's position is insufficient. Daniels v. Woodside, 396 F.3d 730, 734-35 (6th Cir. 2005). The non-moving party “may not rest upon [his] mere allegations, ” but must instead present “significant probative evidence” establishing that “there is a genuine issue for trial.” Pack v. Damon Corp., 434 F.3d 810, 813-14 (6th Cir. 2006).

         Moreover, the non-moving party cannot defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment by “simply arguing that it relies solely or in part upon credibility considerations.” Fogerty v. MGM Group Holdings Corp., Inc., 379 F.3d 348, 353 (6th Cir. 2004). Rather, the non-moving party “must be able to point to some facts which may or will entitle him to judgment, or refute the proof of the moving party in some material portion, and. . .may not merely recite the incantation, ‘Credibility, ' and have a trial on the hope that a jury may disbelieve factually uncontested proof.” Id. at 353-54. In sum, summary judgment is appropriate “against a party who fails to 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.” Daniels, 396 F.3d at 735.

         While a moving party without the burden of proof need only show that the opponent cannot sustain his burden at trial, a moving party with the burden of proof faces a “substantially higher hurdle.” Arnett v. Myers, 281 F.3d 552, 561 (6th Cir. 2002). Where the moving party has the burden, the plaintiff on a claim for relief or the defendant on an affirmative defense, “his showing must be sufficient for the court to hold that no reasonable trier of fact could find other than for the moving party.” Calderone v. United States, 799 F.2d 254, 259 (6th Cir. 1986). The Sixth Circuit has emphasized that the party with the burden of proof “must show the record contains evidence satisfying the burden of persuasion and that the evidence is so powerful that no reasonable jury would be free to disbelieve it.” Arnett, 281 F.3d at 561. Thus, summary judgment in favor of the party with the burden of persuasion “is inappropriate when the evidence is susceptible of different interpretations or inferences by the trier of fact.” Hunt v. Cromartie, 526 U.S. 541, 553 (1999).

         ANALYSIS

         I.Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Claims

         The FLSA protects employees through enterprise coverage and individual coverage. See, e.g., Burman v. Everkept, Inc., 2017 WL 1150664 at *6 (W.D. Mich., Mar. 27, 2017); Guyot v. Ramsey, 2016 WL 2866403 at *2 (E.D. Mich., May 17, 2016). Plaintiff bears the burden to establish that his employment is covered by the FLSA through either type of coverage. See, e.g., Mendoza v. Detail Solutions, LLC, 911 F.Supp.2d 433, 439 (N.D. Tex. 2012) (citing D.A. Schulte, Inc. v. Gangi, 328 U.S. 108, 120 (1946)). Defendants argue that they are entitled to relief on Plaintiff's FLSA claims because Plaintiff's employment with Woodland did not come within the purview of the FLSA. For the reasons explained herein, the Court agrees.

         A. Enterprise Coverage

         Enterprise coverage protects employees “who in any workweek [are] engaged in commerce[1] or in the production of goods for commerce, or [are] employed in an enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce. . .” Guyot, 2016 WL WL 2866403 at *2 (quoting 29 U.S.C. § 206(a)). Enterprise coverage only extends, however, to employees of enterprises that have “an annual gross volume of sales made or ...


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