Carver v. Capital Area Transit Sys.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Middle District of Louisiana
Docket NumberCivil Action 21-281-RLB
Decision Date14 April 2022


Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment. (R Doc. 22). The deadline for filing an opposition has expired. LR 7(f). Accordingly, the motion is unopposed.

For the following reasons, the Court will grant Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment.

I. Background

On May 17, 2021, Timothy L. Carver (Plaintiff) commenced this action against his former employer Capital Area Transit System (Defendant or “CATS”), alleging violation of the minimum wage requirement of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 206(a)(1)(C), violation of the Louisiana Wage Payment Act (“LWPA”), La. R.S. 23:631-634, and breach of their employment contract. (R. Doc. 1, “Complaint”). Plaintiff asserts that there is federal subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 in light of Plaintiff's FLSA claim, and that the Court may properly exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1367. (Complaint ¶ 3).

Plaintiff alleges that he was hired by CATS into their bus driver training program on February 17, 2020, successful completed his training, and was then fired on July 9, 2020. (Complaint ¶¶ 9-12). Plaintiff asserts that CATS wrongly deducted $389.19 in training costs from Plaintiff's final paycheck in accordance with an employment agreement, which allowed for the deduction of up to $500.00 in training costs from a final paycheck where the employee leaves CATS before reaching one year of employment. (Complaint ¶¶ 13-18). Plaintiff asserts that he was fired at no fault of his own, prior to the close of the one year period and, accordingly, was prevented by CATS from meeting the required one year of employment. (Complaint ¶ 22). Plaintiff seeks recovery for violation of the LWPA, for breach of contract, and for violation of the minimum wage requirements under the FLSA, seeking recovery of $398.19 in unpaid wages, court costs, attorney fees, declaratory judgment, and a penalty with an equivalent of 90 days wages ($10, 562.00). (Complaint ¶¶ 22-39).

CATS filed an Answer. (R. Doc. 11, “Answer”).[1] In the Answer, CATS admits that it is an “enterprise, ” “public agency, ” and “employer” as defined by the FLSA. (Answer, ¶¶ 5-6; Complaint, ¶¶ 5-6). CATS further admits that while Plaintiff was in training, he was an “employee” as defined by the FLSA. (Answer ¶ 30). CATS further admits that Plaintiff's “last paycheck was for $0.00” despite working 32.25 hours after deduction of taxes and a miscellaneous fee for training costs in the amount of $398.19. (Answer, ¶¶ 13-16; Complaint, ¶¶ 13-16). CATS specifically admits that it violated the minimum wage requirements of the FLSA: “CATS violated 29 U.S.C. §206(a)(1)(C) by employing [Plaintiff] and refusing to pay him a wage at least $7.25 an hour in [Plaintiff's] last week there. Accordingly, compensation is due and owing to [Plaintiff].” (Answer, ¶ 27; Complaint, ¶ 27).

On November 8, 2021, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Compel indicating that CATS failed to respond to requests for admissions, interrogatories, and requests for production served on September 20, 2021. (R. Doc. 17). CATS did not file any opposition to the Motion to Compel.

On November 10, 2021, the district judge referred the instant action to the undersigned in light of the consent of the parties accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). (R. Docs. 14, 19).

On December 1, 2021, the Court granted Plaintiff's Motion to Compel in part, ordered CATS to provide responses to the interrogatories and requests for production, and noted that because Rule 36 is self-executing, the requests for admissions are deemed admitted. (R. Doc. 20). CATS did not subsequently file any motion to withdraw or amend these deemed admissions:

1. CATS understood or should have understood that trainees in the CATS training program that started in February 2020 were entitled to wages for the time spent participating in the CATS training program.
2. While [Plaintiff] was employed at CATS, trainee [Plaintiff] and his co trainees were employees as defined under the FLSA and subject to FLSA regulations as to minimum wage.

(R. Doc. 17-2 at 1).

On February 21, 2022, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment. (R. Doc. 22). Plaintiff moves for summary judgment “on his claims - an unpaid wage claim (La. R.S. 23:631) and a FLSA minimum-wage claim (29 U.S.C. § 206).” (R. Doc. 22).[2] Under Local Rule 7(f), CATS had 21 days from service of the motion to file any opposition. CATS has not filed an opposition as of the date of this ruling. Furthermore, the deadline to complete non-expert discovery in this action has expired. (R. Doc. 16).

II. Law and Analysis
A. Legal Standards for Summary Judgment

Summary judgment shall be granted when there are no genuine issues as to any material facts and the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. When a motion for summary judgment is properly made and supported under Rule 56(c), the opposing party may not rest on the mere allegations of their pleadings, but rather must come forward with “specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Matsushita Electric Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). The nonmovant's evidence is to be believed for purposes of the motion and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in the non-movant's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). However, summary judgment must be entered against the plaintiff if he or she fails to make an evidentiary showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to his or her claim. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). Without a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to the plaintiff's claim, there can be “no genuine issue as to any material fact since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all facts immaterial.” Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323.

A moving party must support an assertion that a fact cannot be genuinely disputed by “citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). Local Rule 56 details the requirements for statements of material facts. “A motion for summary judgment shall be supported by a separate, short, concise statement of material facts, each set forth in separately numbered paragraphs, as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue of material fact to be tried.” LR 56(b)(1). “Facts contained in a supporting or opposing statement of material facts, if supported by record citations as required by this rule, shall be deemed admitted unless properly controverted.” LR 56(f).

B. The Undisputed Material Facts

The Court has reviewed Plaintiff's Statement of Material Facts submitted in support of summary judgment in accordance with Federal Rule 56(c)(1)(A) and Local Rule 56(b)(1). (R. Doc. 22-2). The Court has also reviewed the following exhibits submitted in support of Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and Statement of Material Facts: Plaintiff's Affidavit executed on February 14, 2022 (R. Doc. 22-3, Ex. 1); the CATS Commercial Driver's License Training agreement executed on February 18 2020 (R. Doc. 22-4, Ex. 2); Plaintiff's final pay stub for the pay period July 5, 2020 to July 18, 2020 (R. Doc. 22-5, Ex. 3); the CATS form indicating Plaintiff was terminated by CATS on July 10, 2020 (R. Doc. 22-6, Ex. 4); the Complaint and Answer (R. Doc. 22-7, Ex. 5a-5b); the February 8, 2021 letter from Plaintiff's counsel demanding $398.19 from CATS (R. Doc. 22-8, Ex. 6); the February 8, 2021 delivery confirmation letter confirming delivery of the demand letter (R. Doc. 22-9, Ex. 7); Plaintiff's requests for admission, interrogatories, and requests for production served on September 20, 2021 (R. Doc. 22-10, Ex. 8); and Plaintiff's counsel's Declaration providing the billed attorney time in this matter (R. Doc. 22-11, Ex. 9).

As there is no opposition to the instant Motion for Summary Judgment, or Opposing Statement of Material Facts submitted under Local Rule 56(c), the Court concludes that the facts contained in Plaintiff's Statement of Facts are admitted for the purposes of determining whether summary judgment is appropriate. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Local Rule 56(f)-(g).

The following facts, which are derived from Plaintiff's Statement of Facts and the Plaintiff's summary judgment evidence, are undisputed:

CATS employed Plaintiff from February 17, 2020 to July 9, 2020. (Ex. 1, ¶ 2; Ex. 3; Ex. 4). The parties agreed that if Plaintiff “leaves the Agency prior to their first (1st) year service anniversary, [Plaintiff] will have the training deducted from [his] final payment, not to exceed $500.00.” (Ex. 2). The document references a union agreement. (Ex. 2).

CATS paid Plaintiff in his last week of work $14.67 per hour for 32.25 hours of work totaling $473.11. CATS deducted $398.19 in training costs, withheld $41.90 in taxes, and contributed $33.12 in a 401(a) plan, leaving a balance of $0 for the final paycheck. (Ex. 3; Answer ¶¶ 13-16, 27; Complaint ¶¶ 13-16, 27).

Prior to filing this lawsuit, on February 8, 2021, Plaintiff's counsel demanded from CATS unpaid wages measured by the $398.19 in deducted training costs. (Ex. 6; Ex. 7).

There is no dispute that CATS...

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