United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
TYLER ARCHON, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED
TAYLOR & TYLER INC., AND ERIC GUILLORY
ORDER AND REASONS
the Court is a motion filed by defendants Taylor & Tyler,
Inc. and Eric Guillory to stay proceedings pending resolution
of the Department of Labor's (“DOL”)
preexisting investigation. Rec. Doc. 19. Plaintiff filed an
opposition. Rec. Doc. 25. Defendants then sought and were
granted leave to file a reply memorandum. Rec. Doc. 26. For
the reasons discussed below, IT IS ORDERED
that defendants' Motion to Stay (Rec. Doc. 19) is
DENIED, but without prejudice to reurge if
the DOL's investigation leads to a more active and
burdensome stage upon movant, plaintiff, or for other
BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Tyler Archon filed a complaint on July 19, 2018 against
Defendants Taylor & Tyler, Inc et al. for allegedly
violating the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to pay
Archon and other putative class members overtime wages. Rec.
Doc. 1. Defendant Eric Guillory is the sole owner of Taylor
& Tyler, Inc., a company specializing in residential
heating, ventilation, and air conditioning installation.
See Id. at 2-3. Plaintiff Tyler Archon worked for
Taylor & Tyler, Inc. from July 2017 until June 2018 as an
air conditioning repair personnel. Id. at ¶ 12,
31. Plaintiff claims that he represents a class of other
employees of Taylor & Tyler, Inc. performing air
conditioning repair work who were paid a salary and who
worked over 40 hours in any workweek at any point in the past
three years. Id. at ¶ 56. Defendants filed
their answer on September 5, 2018 claiming that plaintiff was
subject to a variable workweek contract as authorized by
Section 7(f) of the Fair Labor Standards Act and properly
paid all amounts he was owed. Rec. Doc. 18. Defendant Eric
Guillory further argues that he did not personally employ
defendant Tyler Archon and is therefore not responsible for
personally paying his wages. See id. at 1.
filed the instant motion on September 5, 2018 to stay
proceedings pending resolution of a preexisting investigation
by the DOL. Rec. Doc. 19. Defendants assert that the U.S.
DOL's Wage & Hour Division notified Taylor &
Tyler, Inc. of a pending investigation into its wage-payment
practices in December 2017, approximately seven months before
plaintiff Tyler Archon filed his complaint. See Id.
at 2. Defendant Guillory states, in a sworn declaration, that
the scope of the investigation includes wages paid to
Plaintiff Tyler Archon and other employees who performed air
conditioning repair work. Rec. Doc. 19-2. Mr. Guillory
asserts that he has cooperated in the investigation and
during his last meeting with the DOL on May 18, 2018, the
investigator Adams Goin of the Wage & Hour Division
represented he anticipated the investigation would be
resolved in the relatively near future. See Id. at
2. Further, Defendant Guillory asserts that there are
currently no outstanding information requests from the DOL.
See Id. Defendants state that Taylor & Tyler,
Inc. is a small employer that operates out of a single
facility and employs approximately 10-15 individuals at any
given time. See Rec. Doc. 19-1 at 3.
29, 2018, Defendants executed a tolling agreement with the
DOL to toll the statute of limitations with respect to any
action under the Fair Labor Standards Act against the
Defendants for unpaid minimum wages, unpaid overtime
compensation or liquidated damages, and any other applicable
statute of limitations, beginning January 3, 2016. Rec. Doc.
19-2. The agreement states that statutes of limitations shall
remain tolled until 90 days after notice of termination of
the tolling agreement. See id.
district court has inherent authority to “control the
disposition of the causes on its docket with economy of time
and effort for itself, for counsel, and for litigants.”
Landis v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254. This
includes the power of a district court to stay proceedings
“in the control of its docket and in the interests of
justice.” See In re Beebe, 56 F.3d 1384 (5th
Cir. 1995). The movant for a stay must make out a clear case
of hardship or inequity in moving forward if there is even a
fair possibility that the stay will harm the other party.
See Landis, 299 U.S. at 255. When determining
whether to stay proceedings, the Court considers: 1) hardship
to the moving party if the action proceeds; 2) prejudice to
the non-moving party if the stay is granted; and 3)the
interests of judicial economy. See Magana v. Shore
Constr., LLC, No. 17-1896, 2017 WL 2911353, at *3 (E.D.
La. July 6, 2017); E. Cornell Malone Corp. v. Cont'l
Cas. Co., No. 13-6807, 2015 WL 222334, at *2 (E.D. La.
Jan. 14, 2015); Marine Power Holding, LLC v. Malibu
Boats, LLC, No. 14-2065, 2014 WL 7139643, at *1 (E.D.
La. Dec. 15, 2014). The Court will analyze each factor below
to determine whether the facts weigh in favor of granting a
primary jurisdiction doctrine is a doctrine of judicial
abstention in which a court with jurisdiction over a matter
nevertheless “defers to an administrative agency for an
initial decision on questions . . . within the peculiar
competence of the agency.” Occidental Chem. Corp.
v. La. Pub. Serv. Com'n, 810 F.3d 299, 309 (5th Cir.
2016). Although each application of the primary jurisdiction
doctrine requires a fact-specific inquiry, the Fifth Circuit
has identified three factors to consider: 1) whether the
Court has original jurisdiction over the claim before it; 2)
whether adjudication of the claim requires the resolution of
predicate issues or the making of preliminary findings; and
3) whether the legislature has established a regulatory
scheme whereby it has committed the resolution of those
issues or the making of those findings to an administrative
body. See Northwinds Abatement, Inc. v. Employers Ins. of
Wausau, 69 F.3d 1304, 1311 (5th Cir. 1995). The Court
will consider these factors below to determine whether this
case properly fits within the unique competency of the DOL.
The three-factor balancing test weighs against granting
the three factors mentioned above: 1) hardship to the moving
party, 2) prejudice to the non-moving party, and 3) judicial
economy, it is in the public interest to deny the requested
stay. Defendants have not made out a clear case of hardship
in moving forward in light of the likelihood of prejudice to
plaintiff, and judicial economy will not be promoted.
The hardship to the moving party if the action proceeds does
not weigh in favor of granting a stay
asserted harm in continuing litigation does not rise to the
level warranting a stay. Defendants argue that if a stay is
not granted, they will be forced to waste time, money, and
resources litigating issues likely to be rendered moot by the
DOL's investigation. However, as discussed in further
detail below, a resolution of the DOL's investigation
does not necessarily mean plaintiff's claims will be
moot. Defendants argue that they should not be required to
fight this issue “simultaneously on two fronts.”
See Rec. Doc. 19-1 at 2. However, Defendants stated
that Mr. Guillory's last in-person with the DOL was on
May 18, 2018 and he last submitted documentation on August
26, 2018. See Rec. Doc. 19-2 at 2. Defendants noted
that “there currently are no outstanding information
requests from the DOL.” Id. This indicates
that defendants are not currently expending time or resources
on the DOL's investigation, and have not been for at
least a few months. Even if Defendants were still providing
information to the DOL, a substantial overlap with the
present litigation would presumably make engaging in
discovery simpler, not more difficult. While the Court
recognizes the duties Mr. Guillory has as the sole proprietor
of Taylor & Tyler, Inc., defendants have not made a
“clear case of hardship or inequity in being required
to go forward” in light of the possibility of prejudice
to plaintiffs discussed below. See Landis, 299 U.S.
Prejudice to the non-moving party if the stay is granted