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Bauer v. Livaudais Electrical & Construction, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

December 11, 2017

STEPHEN P. BAUER
v.
LIVAUDAIS ELECTRICAL & CONSTRUCTION, LLC, PHILIP LIVAUDAIS, AND BOBBY LAMBERT

         SECTION A(4)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          JUDGE JAY C. ZAINEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment (Rec. Doc. 8) filed by Defendants: Livaudais Electrical & Construction, LLC, Philip Livaudais, and Bobby Lambert (collectively referred to as “Defendants”). Plaintiff Stephen P. Bauer (“Bauer”) opposes this motion (Rec. Doc. 10), Defendants have replied (Rec. Doc. 15), and Plaintiff has filed a surreply. (Rec. Doc. 17). The motion, set for submission on November 1, 2017, is before the Court on the briefs without oral argument. This matter is set to be tried to a jury beginning on August 27, 2018 at 8:30 a.m. Having considered the motion and memoranda of counsel, the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds that the Defendants' motion should be GRANTED for the reasons set forth below.

         I. Background

         Livaudais Electrical is owned by Defendant Philip Livaudais (“Livaudais”) with its principal place of business located in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. (Rec. Doc. 1, ¶¶ 2, 3). Defendant Bobby Lambert (“Lambert”) serves as office manager of Livaudais Electrical. Id. at ¶ 4. According to his complaint, Plaintiff Stephen Bauer worked for Livaudais Electrical & Construction, LLC (“Livaudais Electrical”) as an electrician for approximately nine years. Id. at ¶ 10. In his complaint, Bauer claims that Livaudais violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) by failing to pay Bauer overtime for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week. Id. at ¶ 22. Bauer also alleges to be a non-exempt employee under the FLSA, and is therefore entitled to pay times one and a half for all hours worked over 40 hours per week. Id. at ¶¶ 11, 22. Allegedly, Livaudais has made no payments to properly compensate Bauer for all hours worked overtime as required by the FLSA. Id. at ¶ 24. When approached by Bauer about the shortfall in overtime pay, Livaudais allegedly admitted to such shortfalls, but then refused to properly compensate Bauer. Id. at ¶ 26. Bauer believes his insisting on being properly compensated for overtime work caused Livaudais to constructively discharge Bauer. Id. Bauer alleges his discharge constitutes retaliation in violation of the FLSA. Id.

         The complaint further alleges that Lambert altered Bauer's time sheets by regularly reducing and shortening the hours recorded on Bauer's time sheets during his employment with Livaudais Electrical. Id. at ¶ 21. Additionally, Bauer alleges Livaudais wrongfully made payroll deductions from Bauer's paychecks for unexplained amounts and withheld payroll taxes on said deductions. Id. at 25. As a result, Bauer claims he was required to pay income taxes on the improperly deducted amounts. Id.

         Bauer brings claims under the FLSA alleging that Livaudais failed to compensate Bauer for overtime work. 28 U.S.C. §§ 207, 216. Bauer also alleges that Livaudais failed to comply with Federal Labor Regulations, specifically violating 28 C.F.R. § 516.2, by “implementing a management policy, plan or decision that intentionally altered payroll and other records.” Id. at ¶ 29. Additionally, Bauer brings a claim for retaliation under the FLSA against Livaudais. Id. Bauer's state law claims include conversion by Livaudais for tampering with Bauer's work hours and breach of Livaudais' contractual duty of good faith and fair dealing. Id. at ¶ 32. Finally, Bauer brings the same above-mentioned claims against Lambert for his alleged assistance with Livaudais and Livaudais Electrical in depriving Bauer of fair pay. Id. at ¶¶ 4, 21.

         However, Defendants bring this motion for summary judgment arguing that res judicata bars Plaintiff's claims. (Rec. Doc. 8, p. 8). Defendants argue that Bauer's claims have previously been fully adjudicated before the Justice of the Peace Court in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. Specifically, on July 18, 2017, Judge Bruce Jackson of the St. Bernard Parish Justice of the Peace Court rendered judgment against Bauer and in favor of Livaudais and Livaudais Electrical. (Rec. Doc. 8-5, Ex. 2). That judgment stems from claims brought by Bauer against Livaudais and Livaudais Electrical for “maliciously and systematically for a period of at least 7 years us[ing] liquid paper on [Bauer's] hand-written time sheets to shave roughly 7-15% and in one case over 30% of worked overtime [without] [Bauer's] knowledge. . . .” (Rec. Doc. 8-2, Ex. 1). Also on July 18, 2017, Judge Jackson rendered judgment against Bauer and in favor of Lambert. (Rec. Doc. 8-7, Ex. 4). That judgment stems from claims brought by Bauer against Lambert in the same Justice of the Peace Court. Bauer's Statement of Claim against Lambert stated, “[I'm] going to prove without doubt that Bobby Lambert played a pivotal role in the systematic theft of over [$]60, 000.00 of my earned overtime over the span of my employment with Livaudais Electrical and Construction.” (Rec. Doc. 8-6, Ex. 3).

         Defendants now bring this motion for summary judgment claiming that the July 18, 2017 judgments rendered in their favor bar Bauer's current claims before this Court. The Court is now tasked with determining whether the judgments rendered against Bauer in the Justice of the Peace Court should be given res judicata effect.

         II. Jurisdiction

         This Court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, as Plaintiff's claims arise in part under the laws of the United States. Particularly, Plaintiff brings claims against Defendants for violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. This Court also retains jurisdiction of Plaintiff's state law claims of conversion and breach of contract through supplemental jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).

         III. Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate only if “the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, ” when viewed in the light most favorable to the non-movant, “show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact.” TIG Ins. Co. v. Sedgwick James, 276 F.3d 754, 759 (5th Cir. 2002) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249-50 (1986)). A dispute about a material fact is “genuine” if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Id. (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248). The Court must draw all justifiable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Id. (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255). Once the moving party has initially shown “that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's cause, ” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986), the non-movant must come forward with “specific facts” showing a genuine factual issue for trial. Id. (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)). Conclusional allegations and denials, speculation, improbable inferences, unsubstantiated assertions, and legalistic argumentation do not adequately substitute for specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial. Id. (citing SEC v. Recile, 10 F.3d 1093, 1097 (5th Cir. 1993)).

         IV. ...


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