Jeffery v. Sarasota White Sox, Inc.

Decision Date15 September 1995
Docket NumberNo. 94-3539,94-3539
Citation64 F.3d 590
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Eleventh Circuit
Parties130 Lab.Cas. P 33,277, 2 Wage & Hour Cas.2d (BNA) 1537 Ronald R. JEFFERY, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. SARASOTA WHITE SOX, INC., Defendant-Appellee. Non-Argument Calendar.

Stanley E. Marable, Sarasota, FL, for appellant.

John Wendell, Lakeland, FL, Mitchell Macknin, Bruce Sperling, Chicago, IL, for appellee.

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

Before KRAVITCH, ANDERSON and CARNES, Circuit Judges.

PER CURIAM:

We AFFIRM on the basis of the Order of the district court dated November 10, 1994, attached as an appendix and hereby incorporated into and made a part of this opinion. 1

AFFIRMED.

APPENDIX

RONALD R. JEFFERY, Plaintiff,

v.

SARASOTA WHITE SOX, INC., Defendant.

Case No. 93-1847-Civ-T-24(C)

United States District Court

Middle District of Florida

Tampa Division

ORDER

This cause comes before the Court for consideration of Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 18, filed May 16, 1994) and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 23, filed June 27, 1994. Plaintiff filed a Response to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment on July 7, 1994 (Doc. No. 28).

Statement of Facts

The parties do not dispute the relevant facts in this action. Plaintiff filed this action pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. Sec. 201, et seq. (hereinafter "FLSA") seeking damages for unpaid overtime wages. Plaintiff is a grounds keeper who has been employed by Defendant since 1989 to maintain the baseball complex located in Sarasota, Florida. His responsibilities include the preparation of the fields for baseball games, including watering and mowing the grass, chalking lines and covering the fields when necessary. He receives the same salary each week regardless of the number of hours he works. Plaintiff claims that he is entitled to recover payment of time and a half for hours he alleges he has worked in excess of forty hours per week since 1989.

Defendant is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Chicago White Sox, Ltd. Defendant owns a minor league baseball franchise affiliated with the Chicago White Sox. Defendant utilizes the baseball complex owned by the City of Sarasota pursuant to a "Minor League Baseball Facility Lease" (hereinafter "Lease") entered into by Defendant and the City of Sarasota on or about February 1, 1989. The Lease provides that Defendant has the right to use the entire sports complex for major league spring training as well as minor league activities.

The City of Sarasota owns the baseball complex which is open all year round. It is only used by Defendant on a seasonal basis. The Chicago White Sox hold spring training in the sports complex in Sarasota during the month of March of each year. Defendant begins play in April and continues to play up to the end of August of each year. The Lease provides that other organizations are permitted to utilize the facilities when the complex is not being utilized by Defendant.

In order to provide Defendant full direction and control of the grounds keeping staff as well as the grooming and maintenance of the baseball fields, the Lease provides that Defendant is fully responsible for the performance of all maintenance on the baseball fields. Defendant is also responsible for all the costs and expenses which are reasonably involved in the maintenance of the baseball fields in connection with baseball activities. The City of Sarasota bears the cost of maintaining the fields for any use other than Defendant's use for baseball activities.

Motions for Summary Judgment

Plaintiff claims that he is entitled to summary judgment since there are no genuine issues of material fact and he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Plaintiff claims that the only legal issue which must be resolved is whether or not Defendant is exempt from the overtime provisions of the FLSA under 29 U.S.C. Sec. 213(a)(3). Plaintiff claims that the legal issue should be resolved in his favor based upon the legal authority set forth in his Memorandum of Law (Doc. No. 19).

Defendant asserts that Plaintiff's Motion for Summary judgment should be denied and that its Motion for Summary Judgment should be granted since Plaintiff's claim for overtime wages pursuant to 29 U.S.C. Sec. 207(a) is barred as a matter of law. Pursuant to 29 U.S.C. Sec. 213(a)(3), the overtime provision of 29 U.S.C. Sec. 207(a) does not apply to employees such as Plaintiff who are employed by "an amusement or recreational establishment" such as Defendant whose average receipts in any six-month period do not exceed one-third of its receipts for the other six months of the year.

The Court having considered the Motions for Summary Judgment and otherwise being fully advised, concludes that Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment should be granted and that Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment should be denied.

Standard of Review

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party bears the initial burden of showing the Court, by reference to materials on file that there are no genuine issues of material fact that should be decided at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Clark v. Coats & Clark, Inc., 929 F.2d 604 (11th Cir.1991). A moving party discharges its burden on a motion for summary judgment by "showing" or "pointing out" to the Court that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325, 106 S.Ct. at 2553-54. Rule 56 permits the moving party to discharge its burden with or without supporting affidavits and to move for summary judgment on the case as a whole or on any claim. Id. When a moving party has discharged its burden, the non-moving party must then "go beyond the pleadings," and by its own affidavits, or by "depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file," designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 324, 106 S.Ct. at 2553.

In determining whether the moving party has met its burden of establishing that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, the Court must draw inferences from the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-movant and resolve all reasonable doubts in that party's favor. Spence v. Zimmerman, 873 F.2d 256 (11th Cir.1989); Samples on behalf of Samples v. City of Atlanta, 846 F.2d 1328, 1330 (11th Cir.1988). The Eleventh Circuit has explained the reasonableness standard:

In deciding whether an inference is reasonable, the Court must "cull the universe of possible inferences from the facts established by weighing each against the abstract standard of reasonableness." [citation omitted]. The opposing party's inferences need not be more probable than those inferences in favor of the movant to create a factual dispute, so long as they reasonably may be drawn from the facts. When more than one inference reasonably can be drawn, it is for the trier of fact to determine the proper one.

WSB-TV v. Lee, 842 F.2d 1266, 1270 (11th Cir.1988).

Thus, if a reasonable fact finder evaluating the evidence could draw more than one inference from the facts, and if that inference introduces a genuine issue of material fact, then the court should not grant the summary judgment motion. Augusta Iron and Steel Works v. Employers Insurance of Wausau, 835 F.2d 855, 856 (11th Cir.1988). A dispute about a material fact is "genuine" if the "evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The inquiry is "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Id. at 251-52, 106 S.Ct. at 2512.

Analysis

Defendant claims that it is not required to pay Plaintiff overtime for any hours he may have worked in excess of forty hours a week during the course of his employment. Defendant asserts that it is an amusement or recreational establishment which is exempt from the provisions of FLSA under 29 U.S.C. Sec. 213(a)(3) which provides that:

(a) the provisions of section 206 ... and section 207 of this title shall not apply with respect to--

(3) any employee employed by an establishment which is an amusement or recreational establishment, organized camp, or religious or non profit educational conference center, if (A) it does not operate for more than seven months in any calendar year, or (B) during the preceding calendar year, its average receipts for any six months of such year were not more than 33 1/3 per centum of its average receipts for the other six months of such year,....

Exemptions under the FLSA are to be construed narrowly against the employer who asserts them. Brock v. Louvers and Dampers, Inc., 817 F.2d 1255, 1256 (6th Cir.1987), citing Arnold v. Ben Kanowsky, 361 U.S. 388, 396, 80 S.Ct. 453, 458, 4 L.Ed.2d 393 (1960). The employer has the burden of showing that it is entitled to the exemption. Id. at 1256, citing Arnold, 361 U.S. at 397, 80 S.Ct. at 458-59. For the purpose of determining whether or not Defendant's business falls within the exemption, the critical question is whether or not Defendant's business is truly seasonal. Id. at 1259. The Court finds that Defendant has met its burden of showing that its operation of major league spring training baseball games as well as of minor league baseball games falls within the realm of an amusement and recreational establishment.

A. Defendant is an Amusement or Recreational...

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