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Acosta v. Timberline South LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division

June 5, 2018

R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA Secretary of Labor, United States Department of Labor Plaintiff,
v.
TIMBERLINE SOUTH LLC, a Michigan limited liability company, and JIM PAYNE, an individual, Defendants.

          HON. PATRICIA T. MORRIS JUDGE

          ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT AS TO DAMAGES

          THOMAS L. LUDINGTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On April 29, 2016, Plaintiff Secretary of Labor filed a Complaint against Defendants Timberline South LLC, a timber felling concern, and its manager Jim Payne, alleging violations of the overtime and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. ECF No. 1. The parties filed cross motions for summary judgment. ECF Nos. 18, 19. On October 6, 2017, the Court entered an order denying Defendant's motion for summary judgment, granting Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment in part as to the issues of liability and liquidated damages, and ordered supplemental briefing on damage calculation. ECF No. 33. On October 20, 2017, Defendants filed a motion for reconsideration of the Court's conclusion that Defendants are liable for liquidated damages under the FLSA. ECF No. 35. On February 14, 2018, the motion was denied. ECF No. 42. Defendants took issue with Plaintiff's damage calculation for several reasons, and a second round of supplemental briefing was ordered. ECF No. 43. Plaintiff was directed to address the following outstanding issues identified by Defendants:

. Plaintiff should provide a declaration signed by Jeffrey Wrona or furnish legal authority for the proposition that the current declaration is competent evidence to be considered at summary judgment.
. Plaintiff should address the issue of overlapping workweek entries for the weeks of August 7, 14, 16, 21 and 23, 2015, and revise its calculations accordingly. This appears to be an issue in all three of its Transcription and Computation sheets.
. Plaintiff should further explain how it calculated that drivers work an average of 60 hours per week and equipment operators work an average of 51 hours per week. Plaintiff should identify who the “similarly situated employees” are whose records were used to calculate those averages and cite to the applicable page ranges in the payroll journals.
. Plaintiff should address Defendants' contention that “Crawford is one of the non-hourly employees for which hourly records exist.” Def Br. at 15 (citing ECF No. 19-9). If hourly records do exists for him, Plaintiff should also address why they were not used. Finally, Plaintiff should explain why its overtime total for Mr. Crawford changed from roughly $780 to over $2, 000.

         I.

         Plaintiff has now submitted Mr. Wrona's original declaration with his signature. With respect to the overlapping workweek entries for the hourly employees for the weeks of August 7, 14, 16, 21, and 23, 2015, Plaintiff asserts that Randy Newberry was the only employee for whom overlapping overtime wages were assessed, in an amount of $20.63, which Plaintiff has removed from its revised back wage computations. Pl. Suppl. Br. at 2-3. In response, Defendants contend that Mike Lube's third computation sheet contains 9 overlapping or duplicate date entries, including January 22, 29, February 5, 12, 19, 26, March 4, 11, 18, 2016, and January 20, 27, February 3, 10, 17, 24, March 10, 17, 2016. Plaintiff appears to have made a typographical error. The workweeks between Jan. 20 and March 17, 2016 should in fact reflect the year as 2017, not 2016. Indeed, January 20-March 17, 2017 is otherwise unaccounted for in Plaintiff's computation sheet for Mike Lube. Additionally, the workweeks ending January 20-March17 correspond to the year 2017 for the other hourly employees, not the year 2016 (in which the workweeks ended January 22, 29, etc). Furthermore, the payroll journal for Mike Lube (ECF No. 18-11 at 19) correctly reflects the year 2017 for January 20-March 17 workweeks, and the dollar amounts match up to the workweeks listed in the computation sheets. Rather than directing another round of supplemental briefing on this issue, Defendants will be given the benefit of the doubt with respect to these workweeks, and the overtime award will be reduced accordingly. Of the two periods of time containing allegedly overlapping workweeks, January 22-March 18, 2016 contain the higher amounts for overtime due, totaling $6, 060. That amount will be deducted from the award.

         II.

         Plaintiff was also directed to explain how the average hours were calculated for truck drivers and equipment operators. Plaintiff has now identified the records relied upon in making this calculation, and has also revised this calculation to incorporate data for the updated time period from Defendants' second payroll journal (which reduced the average hours for truck drivers and equipment operators to 55 and 48 hours, respectively). In response, Defendants contend the updated calculation should have been made sooner. In any event, Defendants do not dispute that the update calculation has now been made.

         III.

         Defendants also argue that the data “remains fatally flawed” because it “does not discount travel or lunch time.” Def. Suppl. Br. at 6-7. This argument was already addressed in the Court's initial order granting summary judgment in part. ECF No. 33 at 27. Defendants offer ...


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