In re Cargill Meat Solutions

Decision Date10 April 2008
Docket NumberNo. 3:CV-06-513.,3:CV-06-513.
Citation632 F.Supp.2d 368
CourtU.S. District Court — Middle District of Pennsylvania

WILLIAM J. NEALON, District Judge.

This action is the consolidation of Civil Action Nos. 3:06-cv-00513, 3:06-cv-00532, and 3:06-cv-01420. (3:06-cv-00532, Doc. 34). The three actions alleged that the Defendant, Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation, (hereinafter "Cargill") failed, and continues to fail, to compensate workers for time spent donning, doffing, waiting for, gathering, maintaining, and sanitizing work-related clothing, gear, and equipment and for time spent traveling between the changing area and the production line before and after shifts and during break times. (3:06-cv-00513, Doc. 1, ¶ 3); (3:06cv-00532, Doc. 5, ¶¶ 10-14); (3:06-cv-01420, Doc. 1, ¶ 3). On August 8, 2006, the three actions were consolidated into one action under Civil No. 3:06-cv-00513. (Doc.1 34). Presently before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 265) of Cargill.


On March 10, 2006, Plaintiff Larry Curtis and several other employees of Cargill's Wyalusing meat processing facility (hereinafter "Wyalusing Plaintiffs") filed a class action complaint (3:06-cv-00513) against Cargill asserting that Cargill failed to properly compensate the Wyalusing Plaintiffs. (Doc. 1). The Complaint alleges: Count I, violation of the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act ("PMWA"); Count II, breach of contract; Count III, violation of the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law ("PWPCL"); Count IV, restitution; and Count V, unjust enrichment. Id. As a result of Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 7) filed on April 10, 2006, Counts II and V of the Complaint were limited to the period after March 10, 2002, Count III was limited to the period of time after March 10, 2003, and Count IV was dismissed. (Doc. 11).

On March 13, 2006, Farida Rahman and several former and current employees of Cargill's Hazleton meat processing facility initiated a class action lawsuit (3:06-cv-00532) alleging that Cargill failed to adequately compensate its employees at its Hazleton plant. (3:06-cv-00532, Doc. 5). The Amended Complaint asserts: Count I, violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"); Count II, violation of the PMWA; and Count III, violation of the PWPCL. Id.

On July 20, 2006, the Wyalusing Plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit (3:06-cv-01420) against Cargill alleging violations of the FLSA. (3:06-cv-01420, Doc. 1).

A Joint Motion to Approve Settlement Agreement (Doc. 255) was filed on July 12, 2007, and on July 26, 2007, the Settlement Agreement was approved and all legal claims against Cargill regarding its Wyalusing plant were dismissed. (Doc. 258). Consequently, only the Hazleton Plaintiffs' FLSA, PMWA, and PWPCL claims remain.

On September 5, 2007, Cargill filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 265) and a Brief in Support (Doc. 266). The Hazleton Plaintiffs (hereinafter "Plaintiffs") filed a Brief in Opposition (Doc. 274) on November 9, 2007, to which Cargill filed a Reply (Doc. 284) on December 21, 2007. On January 8, 2008, Plaintiffs filed a Notice of Supplemental Authority (Doc. 285) and on January 17, 2008, Cargill filed a Response thereto (Doc. 286). In addition, Cargill filed a Statement of Undisputed Facts (Doc. 267) to which Plaintiffs filed a Response (Doc. 273). Thereafter, Cargill filed a Reply (Doc. 283) to the additional facts contained in Plaintiffs' Response. The Motion for Summary Judgment is now ripe for disposition and, for the following reasons, the Motion will be granted in part and denied in part.


Summary judgment is appropriate if "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and ... the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. Civ. P. 56(c): see also Turner v. Schering-Plough Corp., 901 F.2d 335, 340-41 (3d Cir.1990). The party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue as to any material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Young v. Quinlan, 960 F.2d 351, 357 (3d Cir.1992). Once such a showing has been made, the nonmoving party cannot rely upon conclusory allegations in its pleadings or briefs to establish a genuine issue of material fact. See Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888, 110 S.Ct. 3177, 111 L.Ed.2d 695(1990); FED. R. CIV. P. 56(e). Rather, the nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings and offer specific facts contradicting those averred by the movant which indicate that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id.

To determine whether the nonmoving party has met his or her burden, the court must focus on both the materiality and the genuineness of the factual issues raised by the non-movant. "[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986) (emphasis in original). A disputed fact is material when it could affect the outcome of the suit under the governing substantive law. Id. at 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505. A dispute is genuine if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id. If the court determines that "the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no "genuine issue for trial." " Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986) quoting First Nat'l Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 289, 88 S.Ct. 1575, 1592, 20 L.Ed.2d 569 (1968). All inferences, however, "should be drawn in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and where the nonmoving party's evidence contradicts the movant's, then the non-movant's must be taken as true." Pastore v. Bell Tel. Co., 24 F.3d 508, 512 (3d Cir.1994) quoting Big Apple BMW, Inc. v. BMW of N. Am., Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir.1992), cert. denied, 507 U.S. 912, 113 S.Ct. 1262, 122 L.Ed.2d 659 (1993).


Cargill owns and operates a case-ready beef and pork processing, packaging and shipping plant in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, from which it distributes meat products throughout the United States. The Hazleton Plant has about eight-hundred employees of whom approximately six-hundred ninety are hourly personnel and members of a bargaining unit represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776 (hereinafter "Union").

The hourly employees wear a variety of protective gear and safety equipment in the performance of their duties. All workers are required to wear a smock, hard hat, hair net, earplugs, steel-toed boots, gloves, and safety glasses while some also wear additional personal protective equipment. The personal protective equipment worn varies by department and depends on the work performed by each employee and the employee's preference. Certain "mesh-wearing" employees, approximately ten percent of the Union employees, work in the job class of "knife worker" or "wizard knife operator" and wear, inter alia, cut-resistant gloves, cut-resistant sleeves, mesh gloves, mesh sleeves, and a mesh apron. Plaintiffs contend that this mesh safety equipment is not only donned by the "mesh-wearing" employees but by other employees as well. (Doc. 273, p. 9, ¶ 6).

Since the Hazleton Plant began operation in January 2002, Cargill has paid "mesh-wearing" employees an extra five minutes worth of compensation per day for the time it allegedly takes to don and doff their personal protective equipment and for related activities. These related activities include time spent waiting to pick up or drop off personal protective equipment and time spent walking to a work station before employees are "on the clock," or to locker rooms after employees have "punched out."

The Plaintiffs have been covered by a collective bargaining agreement (hereinafter "CBA") between Cargill and the Union from May 10, 2002 until the present day. The 2002 CBA governed from May 10, 2002 through February 25, 2007 and the 2007 CBA from February 26, 2007 to the present. These contracts cover(ed) all production and maintenance employees. Throughout the negotiations preceding the 2002 CBA and during the term of the 2002 CBA, Cargill continued paying five minutes worth of compensation daily to "meshwearing" employees for donning, doffing, and related activities. Neither the Union nor Cargill management raised the five minutes of pay for the "mesh-wearing" employees or the failure to pay "non-meshwearing" employees for said activities during the negotiations for the 2002 CBA which is silent on compensation for time spent donning and doffing. No grievances were filed under the 2002 CBA by the Union or any employee concerning Cargill's additional payment to "mesh-wearing employees" for donning and doffing or the failure to similarly compensate "non-meshwearing" employees.

During the negotiations for the 2007 CBA, Cargill continued to pay five minutes worth of compensation to "mesh-wearing" production employees. On September 21, 2006, the Union made a written proposal to Cargill which stated:

U-26 New Section 1—The Company will compensate employees for any donning, doffing, walking, waiting or washing time in accordance with applicable federal and state laws.

The Union made this proposal at the request of the International Union, which wanted to insert a uniform statement regarding donning and doffing practices in its collective bargaining agreements across the country. The Union's U-26 proposal was not accepted by Cargill and the Union ultimately decided not to pursue it. The 2007 CBA is also silent on the issue of compensation...

To continue reading

Request your trial
30 cases
  • Johnson v. Koch Foods, Inc.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Tennessee
    • November 13, 2009
    ...the minimum standard of living necessary for health, efficiency, and general well-being of workers.'" In re Cargill Meat Solutions Wage & Hour Litig., 632 F.Supp.2d 368, 377 (M.D.Pa.2008) (citing 29 U.S.C. § 202(a)). Section 207(a)(1) of the FLSA Except as otherwise provided in this section......
  • Lewis v. Huntington Nat'l Bank
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Ohio
    • March 12, 2012
    ...where the policies it had predated the DOL's Opinion Letters upon which it claimed to have relied); In re Cargill Meat Solutions Wage and Hour Litig., 632 F.Supp.2d 368, 392 (M.D.Pa.2008) (“Cargill at no time changed its payment/non-payment policy at the Hazelton Plant since its inception i......
  • Guinan v. Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Iowa
    • July 25, 2011
    ...against the employer), aff'd on other grounds, 546 U.S. 21, 126 S.Ct. 514, 163 L.Ed.2d 288 (2005); In re Cargill Meat Solutions Wage & Hour Litig., 632 F.Supp.2d 368, 384 (M.D.Pa.2008) (“[F]or purposes of statutory interpretation, an exception contained in § 203 should not be treated differ......
  • Guinan v. Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., C10-3007-MWB
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Iowa
    • July 25, 2011
    ...construed narrowly against the employer), aff'd on other grounds, 546 U.S. 21 (2005); In re Cargill Meat Solutions Wage & Hour Litig., 632 F. Supp. 2d 368, 384 (M.D. Pa. 2008) ("[F]or purposes of statutory interpretation, an exception contained in § 203 should not be treated differently fro......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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