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Leipolt v. All-Ways Contractors Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

May 5, 2016

MATTHEW LEIPOLT, CHRISTOPHER ADAMS, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
ALL-WAYS CONTRACTORS, Inc.,, Defendant.

DECISION AND ORDER

HO'N. RUDOLPH T. RANDA U.S. District Judge

This is a putative class action under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq.. The defendant, All-Ways Contractors, Inc., moves for summary judgment, arguing that it is exempt from the FLSA pursuant to the Motor Carrier Act exemption, 29 U.S.C. § 213(b)(1). The Court agrees. All-Ways’ motion for summary judgment is granted, and this matter is dismissed in its entirety.

I. Background.

All-Ways is a Wisconsin corporation engaged in commercial landscaping related to public and private commercial road building projects, commercial snowplowing, and commodity trading in salt and topsoil used in commercial and public road building projects. The named plaintiffs, Matthew Leipolt and Christopher Adams, were employed by All-Ways as truck drivers.

All-Ways possesses a U.S. Department of Transportation registration number 1645394. All-Ways requires that each driver possess a Commercial Driver License (“CDL”) for interstate travel. All-Ways maintains a “Driver Qualification File” for each driver that includes documentation required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. All-Ways must submit to audits to ensure compliance with FMCSA and DOT regulations.

All-Ways currently employs approximately forty-four full-time employees, twenty of which are truck drivers. During the course of the named plaintiffs’ employment, All-Ways truck drivers engaged in a minimum of 120 shipments of salt and scrap metal to and from Waukesha, Wisconsin and Winona, Minnesota, 93 shipments of various commodities between Waukesha and various Kohl’s Department Stores outside of Wisconsin, including Machesney Park, Illinois, Kalamazoo, Michigan, Franklin Park, Ohio, Perrysburg, Ohio, Midland, Michigan, Walker, Michigan, and Lake Orion, Michigan, and 516 intrastate shipments of salt from the Port of Milwaukee, known as “Jones Island, ” to various locations in Wisconsin.

For each trip to Jones Island, the truck drivers picked up salt that had been ordered in advance from various companies located outside of Wisconsin, including North American Salt Company and Morton Salt, Inc., prior to its arrival in Wisconsin. In addition, all truck drivers transported equipment across state lines to the various Kohl’s Department Stores to complete the job in question, such as skid loaders, mini excavators, and tractors hauled by truck and trailers.

Leipolt engaged in at least seven (7) interstate trips to Winona, Minnesota; Adams engaged in at least three (3). Leipolt engaged in at least seventeen (17) trips to Jones Island; Adams engaged in at least five (5).

At any given time, truck drivers are subject to being called upon to transport products across state lines. At all times during any given year, All-Ways engages truck drivers to travel in interstate commerce or actively solicits work in interstate commerce. All-Ways actively solicits the continuation of interstate work with Kohl’s Department Stores and any other interstate work at all times through its regular, day-to-day interaction with customers and potential customers. All-Ways’ website, a significant source of its marketing efforts, is in no way limited to soliciting business within the state of Wisconsin. The percentage of revenue generated by All-Ways attributable to products transported in interstate commerce is approximately 30% in any given year ($1.2 million of $4.3 million in annual revenue).

Due to the nature of assignments that varied from day to day, All-Ways does not regularly assign specific drivers to specific trips or create a schedule in advance of any particular day. Instead, drivers are given work assignments on a day-to-day basis as needed. Because all drivers are qualified to operate in interstate commerce, All-Ways does not differentiate between interstate and intrastate trips for job assignments. Drivers are assigned to interstate work randomly with consideration given to their job availability on the day in question. All-Ways retains discretion to assign any driver to perform interstate work at any given time. All drivers have been assigned to interstate travel at some point during their employment with All-Ways.

All trucks driven by the named plaintiffs and all other truck drivers across state lines or to the Port of Milwaukee exceed a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 10, 001 pounds. Leipolt personally operated the following trucks during approximately 95 percent of his period of employment: (i) Mack water trucks with a GVWR of 54, 000 and 56, 000 pounds; (ii) quad axel Peterbilt dump trucks with a GVWR of 80, 000 pounds; (iii) low boy tractor trailers that can haul up to 100, 000 pounds; (iv) tractor trailers (i.e., semi-trucks with a dump trailer) with a GVWR of 80, 000 pounds; and (v) front end loaders with a GVWR of approximately 50, 000 pounds. Leipolt also occasionally operated a 2010 Chevy pick-up truck in the winter for less than 5% of the time he was working for All-Ways. Adams operated quad axel Peterbilt dump trucks and tractor trailers with a GVWR of 80, 000 pounds.

II. FLSA and the MCA exemption.

Summary judgment should 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 “material fact” is one identified by the substantive law as affecting the outcome of the suit. Bunn v. Khoury Enters., Inc., 753 F.3d 676, 681 (7th Cir. 2014) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). A “genuine issue” exists with respect to any such material fact when “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id. at 681-82. Thus, Rule 56 “mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, 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.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

Congress enacted the FLSA to provide employees a “fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.” Dekeyser v. Thyssenkrupp Waupaca, Inc., 735 F.3d 568, 570 (7th Cir. 2013) (quoting Barrentine v. Arkansas-Best Freight Sys., Inc., 450 U.S. 728, 739 (1981)). To that end, the FLSA requires that an employee who works more than forty hours in a given week must be compensated at one and one-half times the regular rate at which he is employed. 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1). The Motor Carrier Act, by contrast, was “designed with the goal of promoting safety on the interstate highways.” Graham v. Town & Country Disposal of W. Mo., Inc., 865 F.Supp.2d 952, 958 (W.D. Mo. 2011). The MCA vests in the Department of Transportation the “power to establish reasonable requirements with respect to ...


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