Caro-Galvan v. Curtis Richardson, Inc., CARO-GALVAN

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore KRAVITCH; KRAVITCH
Citation993 F.2d 1500
Parties125 Lab.Cas. P 35,844, 1 Wage & Hour Cas.2d (BNA) 797 Jose Jesus; Tomas Medina-Solorsano; Jose Muniz-Rodriguez; Francisco Caro-Martinez; Maria De Los Angeles Solano De Caro; Cathy Muniz; Juan Jose Solorsano; Pedro Briseno; and Irma Caro, Plaintiffs-Appellants, Elmer Eden, Plaintiff, v. CURTIS RICHARDSON, INC., Defendant-Appellee, Betty Fowler and Joe Fowler, Defendants.
Decision Date25 June 1993
Docket NumberCARO-GALVAN,No. 91-3543

Page 1500

993 F.2d 1500
125 Lab.Cas. P 35,844, 1 Wage & Hour Cas.2d
(BNA) 797
Jose Jesus CARO-GALVAN; Tomas Medina-Solorsano; Jose
Muniz-Rodriguez; Francisco Caro-Martinez; Maria De Los
Angeles Solano De Caro; Cathy Muniz; Juan Jose Solorsano;
Pedro Briseno; and Irma Caro, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
Elmer Eden, Plaintiff,
v.
CURTIS RICHARDSON, INC., Defendant-Appellee,
Betty Fowler and Joe Fowler, Defendants.
No. 91-3543.
United States Court of Appeals,
Eleventh Circuit.
June 25, 1993.

Page 1501

Gregory S. Schell, Florida Rural Legal Services, Inc., Lake Worth, FL, Ross B. Bricker, Jenner & Block, Moises Melendez, Steven F. Samilow, Miami, FL, for plaintiffs-appellants.

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Elmer Eden, pro se.

F.A. Ford, Jr., Landis, Graham, French, Husfeld, Sherman & Ford, P.A., James R. Clayton, Clayton & Teal, PA, DeLand, FL, for Curtis Richardson, Inc.

Donovan Leisure, Rogovin, Huge & Schiller, Steven K. Hoffman, Annette M. Capretta, Washington, DC, amicus curiae, for Congressman George Miller.

Lois R. Zuckerman, Atty., U.S. Dept. of Labor, William J. Stone, Washington, DC, amicus curiae, for Secretary of Labor.

Carl M. Webster, Rural Law Center, Inc., Apopka, FL, amicus curiae, for Farmworker Ass'n of Cent. Florida (FACF).

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

ON PETITION FOR REHEARING AND SUGGESTION OF REHEARING EN BANC

Before KRAVITCH, Circuit Judge, GODBOLD and OAKES *, Senior Circuit Judges.

KRAVITCH, Circuit Judge:

Appellee Curtis Richardson, Inc.'s petition for rehearing and suggestion of rehearing en banc are DENIED. No judge on active service has requested that the court be polled on rehearing en banc. Fed.R.App.P. 35; 11th Cir.R. 35-5. We have modified certain language from our previous opinion in this case, Caro-Galvan v. Curtis Richardson, Inc., 981 F.2d 501 (11th Cir.1983). The earlier opinion is vacated and withdrawn, and the revised opinion below is substituted therefor.

At issue in this case are certain provisions of the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 1801-72 (1988) (AWPA), and the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-19 (1988) (FLSA). The district court dismissed appellants' claims under those acts. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.

I. 1

Appellants are indigent farmworkers. Appellee Curtis Richardson, Inc. (Richardson) owns and operates fern farms. 2 Appellants worked for Richardson in Volusia County, Florida from 1983 to 1989, harvesting its fern crop and performing other field work.

Ferns are grown and harvested year-round. Most fern harvesting occurs from January through May, however, because weather conditions are more conducive to fern growth during those months and because the demand for ferns is greatest around the Valentine's Day, Easter, and Mother's Day holidays. This seasonal character of the fern industry was reflected in appellants' work. During the prime harvest season of January through May, appellants were able to cut enough ferns to earn more than minimum wage. 3 From June through December, appellants were unable to earn minimum wage cutting ferns. During this off-season period, Richardson offered appellants general field work at minimum wage, including weeding, pulling roots, cleaning, and performing other miscellaneous jobs. The off-season work was voluntary; Richardson allowed appellants to work elsewhere without risk of losing their jobs. Appellants rarely did so, however, because most employers in Volusia County similarly were affected by the cyclical demand for ferns and little alternative work was available.

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While appellants were working for Richardson, they lived in trailers which Richardson owned. Richardson operated approximately twenty mobile homes at several sites around Volusia County. Appellants lived at one site where approximately eight trailers were located. All of the occupants at this trailer site were Richardson employees or their family members. 4

Living conditions in the Richardson trailers were substandard. The trailers were unsanitary, structurally unsound, riddled with holes in the ceilings and floors, infested by rodents and insects, and generally in a state of disrepair. Weeks often passed before Richardson made necessary repairs.

Richardson charged rent of $150.00 a month per unit regardless of the number of occupants. Rent and utility costs were deducted from appellants' paychecks. 5 As a result of these deductions, appellants' take-home pay often fell below minimum wage. At times appellants' cash pay was zero. Richardson ordered appellants to vacate the trailers in May 1989 when it terminated their employment.

II.

In April 1989, shortly before they were fired, appellants brought this action seeking damages and injunctive relief under AWPA and FLSA. 6 The action was tried to the district court. After appellants rested their case, the court granted Richardson's motion for involuntary dismissal pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b). 7 The court concluded that appellants were not "migrant agricultural workers" entitled to the protections of AWPA. The court also found that Richardson had not fired appellants in retaliation for bringing this lawsuit, but because they failed to perform work they had agreed to do. 8 Finally, the court held that the amounts Richardson deducted from appellants' paychecks for rent and utilities were reasonable, and thus lawful under FLSA.

III.

Our task when reviewing a Rule 41(b) dismissal--and particularly our standard of review--is dictated by the unique characteristics of that rule. Although a Rule 41(b) dismissal is similar to a directed verdict in

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favor of the defendant in a jury trial in that it involves an adjudication on the merits against the plaintiff at the close of the plaintiff's evidence, the standard for granting a Rule 41(b) motion to dismiss is significantly different from that for granting a defendant's motion for directed verdict. As our predecessor circuit explained in Emerson Elec. Co. v. Farmer, 427 F.2d 1082 (5th Cir.1970), 9 prior to 1948 several courts treated a 41(b) motion as a motion for a directed verdict. Id. at 1086. As such, the question was not whether plaintiff's evidence showed a right to recovery, but whether it constituted a prima facie case--that is, whether the evidence, taken in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, was sufficient for the case to go to the jury. Id. In 1948 the rule was amended to take account of the fact that "in a non-jury case the Court is supposed to act as Judge and as jury." Id. (emphasis added). Thus, under the amended rule "the court must weigh the evidence and may consider the witnesses' credibility." Chris Berg, Inc. v. Acme Mining Co., 893 F.2d 1235, 1238 n. 2 (11th Cir.1990).

In short, despite the fact that a Rule 41(b) dismissal occurs in the middle of trial, it is treated for standard of proof purposes as if it were a final adjudication at the end of trial. Accordingly, "[t]he usual standards applicable to review of a judgment on the merits in a nonjury case are controlling." 9 Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure, § 2376, at 248 (1971). "Although we review de novo the district court's application of law, we do not overturn the district court's findings of fact unless [they are] clearly erroneous." Chris Berg, 893 F.2d at 1238 n. 2.

If this court reverses an order of involuntary dismissal, the case proceeds as if the district court had denied the motion for dismissal in the first place. See Wright & Miller, § 2376, at 249.

Although the defendants must of course be allowed to present their evidence, the district court need not compel [the plaintiff] to offer again the evidence it has already introduced. Nevertheless, plaintiff should be allowed to supplement the ... record, in chief or by rebuttal, with any evidence that could properly have been admitted at the first trial of [the] issues.

Riegel Fiber Corp. v. Anderson Gin Co., 512 F.2d 784, 793 (5th Cir.1975); accord White v. Rimrock Tidelands, Inc., 414 F.2d 1336, 1340 & n. 7 (5th Cir.1969). At the close of all the evidence, the district court should, as in all nonjury trials, make findings of fact based on all the evidence in the case, make conclusions of law, and apply the law to the facts as found. Of course, any legal principles announced by this court in reversing the order of dismissal are binding on the district court as controlling circuit law.

In this case, appellants do not contest the district court's findings of fact. Rather, two questions of statutory interpretation are presented: the meaning of the term "migrant agricultural workers" for purposes of AWPA, and which party bears the burden of proving that Richardson's charges for rent and utilities were reasonable (or unreasonable), and thus properly (or not properly) included in wages under FLSA. These issues raise questions of law which we review de novo.

IV.

To qualify as a migrant agricultural worker under AWPA, an agricultural laborer must meet two requirements: he or she must be "employed in agricultural employment of a seasonal or other temporary nature," and must be "required to be absent overnight from his [or her] permanent place of residence." 29 U.S.C. § 1802(8)(A). We believe that, based on the evidence presented during appellants' case in chief, appellants satisfy both elements. They are the very type of farm laborers Congress intended AWPA to protect. 10

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A.

Our interpretation of AWPA is guided by several factors: the act's purpose as indicated in the legislative history; the plain meaning of the statute's language; the Department of Labor's interpretations; previous court interpretations; and other principles of statutory construction. See Soliz v. Plunkett, 615 F.2d 272, 275 (5th Cir.1980) (construing predecessor to AWPA); see also Bresgal v. Brock, 843 F.2d 1163, 1166 (9th Cir.1987) (construing AWPA). Our ultimate goal is to give...

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93 practice notes
  • Eliserio v. Floydada Housing Authority, No. CIV.A. L-05-CV-04.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • September 26, 2006
    ...is a remedial statute[,][it] should be construed broadly to effect its humanitarian purpose,"7 Caro-Galvan v. Curtis Richardson, Inc., 993 F.2d 1500, 1505, 1511 & n. 25 (11th Cir.1993) (restricting its analysis under AWPA to employer-provided migrant worker housing because that situation wa......
  • Garcia v. Frog Island Seafood, Inc., No. 2:06-CV-46-F.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Eastern District of North Carolina
    • June 29, 2009
    ...Williams, No. 78-124-Civ-TG, 1980 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14185, 1980 WL 8134 (M.D.Fla. Apr. 22, 1980), Caro-Galvan v. Curtis Richardson, Inc., 993 F.2d 1500 (11th Cir.1993) and Chellen v. John Pickle Co., 446 F.Supp.2d 1247 Upon review of the cases cited above by Plaintiffs, the court finds that ......
  • Sullivan v. PJ United, Inc., 7:13-cv-01275-LSC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Alabama
    • July 19, 2018
    ...case to this action to support the claim that Sullivan is entitled to Mt. Clemens burden shifting for Defendants' recordkeeping omission. 993 F.2d 1500 (11th Cir. 1993). In Caro-Galvan , the plaintiffs were farm workers who brought suit under the FLSA for violation of the minimum wage provi......
  • Ramos-Barrientos v. Bland, No. 10–13412.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • October 27, 2011
    ...lawfully may deduct from an employee's pay the reasonable cost of employer provided housing,” Caro–Galvan v. Curtis Richardson, Inc., 993 F.2d 1500, 1513 (11th Cir.1993), and meals, Donovan v. New Floridian Hotel, Inc., 676 F.2d 468, 473 (11th Cir.1982), “even if that deduction results in t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
93 cases
  • Sullivan v. PJ United, Inc., 7:13-cv-01275-LSC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Alabama
    • July 19, 2018
    ...case to this action to support the claim that Sullivan is entitled to Mt. Clemens burden shifting for Defendants' recordkeeping omission. 993 F.2d 1500 (11th Cir. 1993). In Caro-Galvan , the plaintiffs were farm workers who brought suit under the FLSA for violation of the minimum wage provi......
  • De Leon-Granados v. Eller & Sons Trees, Inc., No. 1:05-CV-1473-CC.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
    • October 7, 2008
    ...purpose. Renteria-Marin v. Ag-Mart Produce, Inc., 537 F.3d 1321, 1325 (11th Cir.2008) (quoting Caro-Galvan v. Curtis Richardson, 993 F.2d 1500, 1505 (11th Cir.1993)). Among the AWPA's protections are the requirements that covered employers pay wages owed when due to migrant agricultural wor......
  • Solis v. Hill Country Farms, Inc., Civil No. 3:09–cv–00162–HDV–RAW.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States State District Court of Southern District of Iowa
    • April 21, 2011
    ...falling below the statutory minimum. Reasonable cost may not exceed the employer's actual cost.” Caro–Galvan v. Curtis Richardson, Inc., 993 F.2d 1500, 1513 (11th Cir.1993) (citing 29 C.F.R. § 531.3(a)). The burden of proving the value of the lodging provided is on the employer. See Donovan......
  • Cash v. Conn Appliances, Inc., No. 1:96 CV 432 (TH).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • November 18, 1997
    ...see also National Medical Enterprises, Inc. v. Shalala, 43 F.3d 691, 696-97 (D.C.Cir.1995); Caro-Galvan v. Curtis Richardson, Inc., 993 F.2d 1500, 1508 (11th Cir.1993); 3 Charles H. Koch, Jr. Administrative Law and Practice § 11.26 (2d ed.1997). He may withdraw or revise these pronouncement......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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