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Piazza v. Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

April 25, 2019

MICHAEL PIAZZA ET AL.
v.
ASSOCIATED WHOLESALE GROCERS INC.

         SECTION: “H”

          ORDER AND REASONS

          JANE TRICHE MILAZZO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 82). For the following reasons, the Motion is DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         In this lawsuit under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), Plaintiff Michael Piazza seeks unpaid overtime that he allegedly earned while working as a loader at Defendant Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc.'s (“AWG”) distribution warehouse in Pearl River, Louisiana. On February 26, 2019, Defendant moved for summary judgment arguing that it qualified as a “motor private carrier” under federal law such that it was not required to pay Plaintiff overtime under the FLSA. Plaintiff opposes the Motion.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         “The court shall grant summary judgment 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.”[1] “As to materiality . . . [o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.”[2] Nevertheless, a dispute about a material fact is “genuine” such that summary judgment is inappropriate “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”[3]

         In determining whether the movant is entitled to summary judgment, the Court views facts in the light most favorable to the non-movant and draws all reasonable inferences in his favor.[4] “If the moving party meets the initial burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to produce evidence or designate specific facts showing the existence of a genuine issue for trial.”[5] Summary judgment is appropriate if the non-movant “fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case.”[6]

         “In response to a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the nonmovant must identify specific evidence in the record and articulate the manner in which that evidence supports that party's claim, and such evidence must be sufficient to sustain a finding in favor of the nonmovant on all issues as to which the nonmovant would bear the burden of proof at trial.”[7] The Court does “not . . . in the absence of any proof, assume that the nonmoving party could or would prove the necessary facts.”[8] Additionally, “[t]he mere argued existence of a factual dispute will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion.”[9]

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         The FLSA entitles qualifying employees to one and half times their regular hourly wages for overtime hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week.[10] The overtime entitlement, however, does not apply to “‘any employee with respect to whom the [Department of Labor's] Secretary of Transportation has power to establish qualifications and maximum hours of service pursuant to the provisions of section 31502 of Title 49.'”[11] Section 31502, originally enacted as part of the Motor Carrier Act (“MCA”), authorizes the Department of Transportation to establish such qualifications for employees of (1) “motor carrier[s]” and (2) “motor private carrier[s], when needed to promote safety of operation.”[12] Thus, the overtime exemption only applies if an employer is either a motor carrier or a motor private carrier.[13] 49 U.S.C. § 13102 defines “motor carrier” and “motor private carrier” as follows:

“[M]otor carrier” means a person providing motor vehicle transportation for compensation.
“[M]otor private carrier” means a person, other than a motor carrier, transporting property by ...

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