United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
TIMOTHY CONNELLY, DAVID WINCHELL, RAYMOND SCHLICHT, and RODNEY SCHLICHT, Plaintiffs,
DAN LEPKE TRUCKING LLC and LEPKE TRUCKING & EXCAVATING LLC, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE.
sued their former employers, defendants Dan Lepke Trucking
LLC and Lepke Trucking & Excavating LLC, for violations
of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Wisconsin law. The
parties have settled all claims save one: Timothy
Connelly's claim that defendants violated Wis.Stat.
§ 103.455 by deducting money from his paycheck without
following the statute's procedures. See Dkt.
192. Connelly now moves for summary judgment on that claim.
Dkt. 167. The court will grant Connelly's motion because
the undisputed facts show that defendants violated §
following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted.
began working for defendants in 2012 as a truck driver. His
tasks included picking up and delivering construction
materials with defendants' trucks and performing other
miscellaneous work at construction sites.
2013, defendants contended that Connelly, while on the job,
backed one of their trucks into another vehicle. After
defendants confronted Connelly about the accident and he
provided no explanation for his actions, defendants
terminated him. Defendants later agreed to rehire Connelly if
he paid for the damage to the truck. According to defendants,
Connelly did not have money to pay for the damage, so he
asked defendants to deduct the money from his paychecks.
Between July and October 2013, defendants deducted a total of
$4, 138 from 11 of Connelly's paychecks. Defendants did
not obtain Connelly's authorization for the deductions in
Subject matter jurisdiction
rely solely on 28 U.S.C. § 1367 as a basis for
exercising jurisdiction over their state-law claims. Under
§ 1367(c)(3), the general rule is that a court should
relinquish jurisdiction over state-law claims when all
federal claims are resolved. Burritt v. Ditlefsen,
807 F.3d 239, 252 (7th Cir. 2015). Although the parties have
settled all the federal claims, it is appropriate to retain
jurisdiction in this case because the remaining state-law
claim is not complicated and its resolution is clear from the
text of § 103.455. See Cortezano v. Salin Bank &
Trust Co., 680 F.3d 936, 941 (7th Cir. 2012)
(“When the resolution of [the state-law] claims is
clear, . . . the court may choose to decide them.”).
judgment is appropriate when the moving party “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). Because the relevant facts in this case
aren't disputed, the question before the court is whether
the undisputed facts entitle Connelly to judgment as a matter
of law. The answer to that question begins and ends with the
text of Wisconsin Statute § 103.455:
No employer may make any deduction from the wages due or
earned by any employee, who is not an independent contractor,
for defective or faulty workmanship, lost or stolen property
or damage to property, unless the employee authorizes the
employer in writing to make that deduction or unless the
employer and a representative designated by the employee
determine that the defective or faulty workmanship, loss,
theft or damage is due to the employee's negligence,
carelessness, or willful and intentional conduct, or unless
the employee is found guilty or held liable in a court of
competent jurisdiction by reason of that negligence,
carelessness, or willful and intentional conduct. If any
deduction is made or credit taken by any employer that is not
in accordance with this section, the employer shall be liable
for twice the amount of the deduction or credit taken in a
civil action brought by the employee. Any agreement entered
into between an employer and employee that is contrary to
this section shall be void.
application of this statute to the facts of this case is
straightforward. Defendants deducted wages from
Connelly's paychecks to pay for property damage that
defendants say Connelly caused. But Connelly didn't
authorize the deductions in writing, Connelly's
representative didn't determine that Connelly was at
fault, and no court held that Connelly was liable for the
damage. So defendants violated § 103.455 and Connelly is
entitled to summary judgment.
resist this conclusion on three grounds: (1) the deductions
were for a loan to Connelly and not for damage to property;
(2) the statute does not apply because Connelly was not
employed at the time he agreed to the deductions; and (3)