Olivas v. C & S Oilfield Servs., LLC

Decision Date27 April 2018
Docket NumberNo. CIV 17-0022 JB\CG,CIV 17-0022 JB\CG
Citation349 F.Supp.3d 1092
Parties A.J. OLIVAS, Individually and on Behalf of those Similarly Situated, Plaintiff, v. C & S OILFIELD SERVICES, LLC; Dewey Coffman and Brett Coffman, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of New Mexico

J. Derek Braziel, Travis Andrew Gasper, Jesse Hamilton Forester, Lee & Braziel LLP, Dallas, Texas --and-- Jack L. Siegel, Siegel Law Group PLLC, Dallas, Texas, Attorneys for the Plaintiff.

Clara B. Burns, Kemp Smith LLP, El Paso, Texas, Attorneys for the Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION 1

James O. Browning, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

THIS MATTER comes before the Court on the Plaintiffs' Motion for Notice to Potential Plaintiffs and Conditional Certification, filed April 11, 2017 (Doc. 16)("Notice Motion"). The Court held a hearing on January 25, 2018. The primary issue is whether Plaintiff A.J. Olivas' proposed class members are similarly situated such that the Court should authorize providing them notice of their right to opt in to Olivas' collective action against Defendants C & S Oilfield Services, LLC, Dewey Coffman, and Brett Coffman (collectively, "C & S Oilfield") under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 - 219 ("FLSA"). The Court concludes that Olivas' allegations and proposed class members' affidavits establish that he and the proposed class members are similarly situated. Accordingly, the Court grants the Notice Motion and authorizes Olivas to notify the proposed class of his collective action.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

C & S Oilfield is a Louisiana-based company that "provid[es] water transfer and other ... services" to New Mexico oilfields. Collective Class Action Complaint ¶ 18, at 4, filed January 9, 2017 (Doc. 1)("Complaint"). D. Coffman and B. Coffman are C & S Oilfield' owners. See Complaint ¶¶ 8-9, at 3. Olivas worked for C & S Oilfield "operat[ing] ... oilfield equipment, completing daily checklists, and performing other manual/technical labor at oilfield sites." Complaint ¶ 19, at 5. According to affidavits, Olivas and other C & S Oilfield employees regularly worked over eighty hours per week but did not receive overtime pay. See Complaint ¶ 20, at 5-6; 28 U.S.C. § 1746 Declaration and Consent of A.J. Olivas in Support of Proceeding as a Collective Action ¶ 4, at 2 (dated January 25, 2017), filed April 11, 2017 (Doc. 16-3) ("Olivas Aff."); 28 U.S.C. § 1746 Declaration and Consent of Eric Holloway in Support of Proceeding as a Collective Action ¶ 4, at 2 (dated January 25, 2017), filed April 11, 2017 (Doc. 16-4)("Holloway Aff."); 28 U.S.C. § 1746 Declaration and Consent of Joseph Wright in Support of Proceeding as a Collective Action ¶ 4, at 2 (dated January 25, 2017), filed April 11, 2017 (Doc. 16-5)("Wright Aff."); 28 U.S.C. § 1746 Declaration and Consent of Michael Ward in Support of Proceeding as a Collective Action ¶ 4, at 2 (dated January 25, 2017), filed April 11, 2017 (Doc. 16-6)("Ward Aff."); 28 U.S.C. § 1746 Declaration and Consent of Wayne Reinhart in Support of Proceeding as a Collective Action ¶ 4, at 2 (dated January 25, 2017), filed April 11, 2017 (Doc. 16-7)("Reinhart Aff."); 28 U.S.C. § 1746 Declaration and Consent of Roman Lambertt in Support of Proceeding as a Collective Action ¶ 4, at 2 (dated January 25, 2017), filed April 11, 2017 (Doc. 16-8)("Lambertt Aff.").

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In the Complaint, Olivas alleges that C & S Oilfield did not pay him or other workers overtime pay. See Complaint ¶¶ 2-3, at 1-2. He brings a class action under rule 23(b)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for C & S Oilfield's alleged violation of the New Mexico Minimum Wage Act, N.M. Stat. Ann. § 50-4-22(D) ("NMMWA"). See Complaint ¶ 5, at 2. He also brings a FLSA collective action against Oilfield Services. See Complaint ¶ 6, at 2-3. In the Defendants' Answer to Collective and Class Action Complaint, filed March 29, 2017 (Doc. 9) ("Answer"), C & S Oilfield asserts several affirmative defenses: (i) Olivas and the putative class have failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; (ii) it paid its workers what they were owed, and it acted in good faith to comply with and in fact did not violate applicable law; (iii) Olivas' action should not be a collective or class action; (iv) Olivas is not similarly situated with the putative class members; (v) "any alleged violation would be subject to the de minimus doctrine"; (vi) Olivas and the proposed class did not work more than forty hours during any week; (v) Olivas and the proposed class have failed to mitigate their damages; (vi) it is entitled to "set off and/or credit for any amounts earned in mitigation"; (vii) it had no knowledge or reason to know that Olivas and the putative class worked in excess of forty hours per week; (viii) the statute of limitations and/or the doctrine of laches bars some or all of the claims against it; (ix) if Olivas and the putative class are entitled to overtime pay, "they would be entitled to overtime premium only"; and (x) Olivas lacks standing. Answer ¶¶ 36-50, at 4-5.

1. The Notice Motion.

In the Notice Motion, Olivas asks that the Court permit Olivas to issue a notice to "a limited group of Defendants' current and former employees" so that they can decide whether to opt in to Olivas' collective action pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). Notice Motion at 1-2. Olivas defines the target group as "[a]ll field personnel employed by Defendants over the last three years who received pay on a salary basis. This Definition includes, but is not limited to, ... positions referred to by Defendants as field hands, lead hands, water transfer technicians, crew leaders, laborers, crewmembers, tank hands, and team leaders." Notice Motion at 4. Olivas asserts that, for a court to permit a plaintiff to send out a FLSA collective action notice, a plaintiff needs to make substantial allegations or to provide some factual support that there is a basis for a collective action. See Notice Motion at 6. Olivas argues he has met that standard by providing six sworn statements from him and other C & S Oilfield employees who aver that they and others performed similar work as Olivas performed and were also not paid for overtime. See Notice Motion at 6-9 (citing Olivas Aff. ¶ 4, at 2; Holloway Aff. ¶ 4, at 2; Wright Aff. ¶ 4, at 2; Ward Aff. ¶ 4, at 2; Reinhart Aff. ¶ 4, at 2; Lambertt Aff. ¶ 4, at 2). Olivas also asks the Court to order C & S Oilfield to provide to Olivas the names and contact information for putative class members. See Notice Motion at 9.

2. The Response.

C & S Oilfield responds. See Defendant's Response to Plaintiff's Motion for Notice to Potential Plaintiffs and Conditional Certification, filed April 24, 2017 (Doc. 19)("Response"). C & S Oilfield argues that Olivas' proposed class is too broad, because it "disregards the duties and level of responsibility of the various job titles and positions as well as the location where such work was performed." Response at 3. C & S Oilfield notes that Olivas' affidavits feature sworn statements from lead hands, a tank hand, a hand, and a water transfer technician, but there are no sworn statements or other evidence showing that crew leaders, laborers, crew members, and team leaders are similarly situated to Olivas. See Response at 4. C & S Oilfield also argues that Olivas' request for workers' names and contact information is too broad, and that it should only be required to provide that information for workers who performed the same jobs as Olivas and the workers who provided affidavits. See Response at 4.

3. The Reply.

Olivas replies. See Plaintiffs' Reply in Support of Motion for Notice to Potential Plaintiffs and Conditional Certification, filed April 28, 2017 (Doc. 22)("Reply"). Olivas argues that the six sworn statements demonstrate that C & S Oilfield's policy to not pay overtime "applied to all personnel paid on a salary basis regardless of duties, location or official title." Reply at 2 (emphasis omitted). Olivas contends that the six sworn statements "meet the lenient standard for conditional certification without additional support." Reply at 3. Olivas adds that at least twenty other workers "have self-identified themselves as similarly situated by filing their consents with the court," which "further establish the propriety of Notice and that Defendants failed to pay Plaintiff and all similarly situated field personnel in compliance with the FLSA." Reply at 3. Olivas contends that the criteria for granting conditional certification to a proposed class is that the proposed class members include employees in similar positions, and that the defendants made a single decision or enforced a policy to not pay them overtime. See Reply at 3-4 (citing Foster v. Nova Hardbanding, Civ. No. 15-1047, 2016 WL 4492829, at *2 (D.N.M. April 20, 2016) (Garza, M.J.) ). Olivas avers that, "[a]s a matter of corporate policy, Defendants classified all field personnel [that were] paid a salary as exempt from overtime without performing any individualized analysis themselves." Reply at 4. Further, Olivas contends that the proposed class is not overly broad, because Olivas and the class had similar job duties, and were paid pursuant to the same payment system that denied them each overtime pay. See Reply at 4-5.

4. Supplemental Authority.

On May 23, 2017, Olivas submitted a Notice of Supplemental Authorities. See Notice of Supplemental Authorities, filed May 23, 2017 (Doc. 23)("Notice Supp. Auth."). In the Notice Supp. Auth., Olivas notes that, since he filed his Notice Motion, two courts, including the Court in a different proceeding, approved notice by text message. See Notice Supp. Auth. at 1 (citing Landry v. Swire Oilfield Servs., 252 F.Supp.3d 1079, 1128-30 (D.N.M. 2017) (Browning, J.); Regan v. City of Hanahan, No. CIV 16-1077, 2017 WL 1386334, at *3 (D.S.C. Apr. 17, 2017) ).

5. The Hearing.

The Court held a hearing. See Draft Transcript of Motion Proceedings (taken January 25, 2018)("Tr.").2 The Court stated its...

To continue reading

Request your trial
3 cases
  • Sherrell v. Univ. of N.M.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of New Mexico
    • November 13, 2018
    ... ... 1991) (internal quotation marks omitted)(quoting McKinney v. Okla. Dep't of Human Servs. , 925 F.2d 363, 365 (10th Cir. 1991) ). A plaintiff must allege "enough facts to state a claim to ... ...
  • Valencia v. Armada Skilled Home Care, LLC
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of New Mexico
    • May 28, 2020
    ...to a merits-based determination, which is not appropriate at this conditional certification stage. See Olivas v. C & S Oilfield Servs., LLC, 349 F. Supp. 3d 1092, 1111 (D.N.M. 2018) ("[T]hat proposed class members held different job titles does not mean that they are not similarly situated.......
  • Levine v. Vitamin Cottage Nat. Food Markets Inc.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Colorado
    • November 6, 2020
    ...[Id.] Courts in this Circuit have found similar affidavits sufficient for conditional certification. See Olivas v. C&S Oilfield Servs., LLC, 349 F.Supp.3d 1092, 1110-11 (D.N.M 2018) (finding affidavits from six oilfield workers each asserting that their primary duties consisted of manual la......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT