Larson v. Isle of Capri Casinos, Inc., Case No. 16-00902-CV-W-ODS

CourtUnited States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Western District of Missouri
PartiesCYNTHIA D. LARSON, Plaintiff, v. ISLE OF CAPRI CASINOS, INC., et al., Defendants.
Docket NumberCase No. 16-00902-CV-W-ODS
Decision Date10 December 2018

ISLE OF CAPRI CASINOS, INC., et al., Defendants.

Case No. 16-00902-CV-W-ODS


December 10, 2018


Pending are Plaintiff Cynthia Larson's Motion for Conditional and Class Certification (Doc. #40); Defendants Isle of Capri Casinos, Inc. ("IOC") and IOC-Kansas City, Inc.'s ("IOC-KC") four Motions to Strike declarations submitted in support of Plaintiff's Motion for Conditional and Class Certification (Docs. #46, 62, 67, 81); and IOC's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. #48).


In August 2016, Plaintiff filed this matter on behalf of herself and others similarly situated, alleging IOC and IOC-KC violated the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") and the Missouri Minimum Wage Law ("MMWL"), and IOC and IOC-KC were unjustly enriched by receiving the benefit of unpaid work. Doc. #1. She later amended her complaint to include additional FLSA and MMWL claims. Doc. #28. Plaintiff alleges Defendants' timekeeping policy did not compensate employees for all time worked (Counts I and V); Defendants miscalculated the regular hourly rate (Counts II and VI); Defendants did not properly inform employees of the tip credit policy (Counts III and VII); Defendants failed to pay employees for required training (Counts IV and VIII); and Defendants were unjustly enriched by employees' unpaid work (Count IX).

In November 2017, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Conditional and Class Certification ("Motion to Certify"). Doc. #40. Defendants opposed the Plaintiff's motion, and also filed a Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Declaration filed in support of her Motion to Certify. Docs.

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#46, 50. The Motion to Certify and Motion to Strike became fully briefed in January and February 2018, respectively. Docs. #58, 66. While the parties briefed those motions, additional motions were filed.

In December 2017, IOC filed a Motion for Summary Judgment arguing IOC was not Plaintiff employer, entitling IOC to summary judgment on all claims. To allow her an opportunity to conduct discovery on the issue raised in IOC's motion, the Court granted Plaintiff's request to extend her deadline (until April 23, 2018) to respond to IOC's motion. Docs. #52-53, 55-56, 84. While awaiting a response to the summary judgment motion, Defendants filed Motions to Strike declarations submitted by Chelsea Jaramillo, Brianne Stanford, and Joey Kendall in support of Plaintiff's Motion to Certify. Docs. #62, 67, 81.1 These motions became fully briefed in February and April 2018.

Roughly one month after the Motion for Summary Judgment was filed and a ruling was issued on the Motion to Certify, Defendants moved to stay the Court's decision on the Motion to Certify until a decision was issued on IOC's Motion for Summary Judgment. Docs. #72. The Court granted Defendants' request, finding the issue raised in the summary judgment motion could be dispositive of IOC's liability and may limit collective and class action members. Doc. #84.2 The Court also granted Plaintiff's request for an extension until June 25, 2018, to respond to IOC's summary judgment motion. Id. at 5.

In June 2018, Plaintiff requested an additional forty-five days, until August 9, 2018, to respond to IOC's summary judgment motion. Doc. #86. The Court granted Plaintiff's request. Doc. #87. Plaintiff then requested yet another extension of time, until September 24, 2018. Doc. #88. Plaintiff represented "no further extensions of this response deadline will be necessary." Id. at 3 (emphasis in original). Based on this representation, the Court granted Plaintiff's request, but warned her no additional extensions would be granted "[a]bsent extenuating circumstances." Doc. #89.

Nevertheless, Plaintiff later sought a seven-day extension of time, until October 1, 2018, to respond to IOC's summary judgment motion. Doc. #90. Plaintiff claimed

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additional time was necessary because she was awaiting deposition transcripts, and needed to review the transcripts to finalize her response. Id. at 3. The Court overruled Defendants' objection (Doc. #92) to the request, granted Plaintiff's request, and declared no further extensions would be granted. Doc. #93.

On October 1, 2018, Plaintiff filed her response to IOC's summary judgment motion. Doc. #99. After obtaining a two-week extension, IOC filed its reply on October 29, 2018. Docs. #104-05, 108-09. Finally, IOC's summary judgment motion, filed a year ago, is ripe for consideration. The Court now considers all pending motions.

A. Factual Background3

Prior to 2017, IOC-KC (a Missouri corporation) was a wholly owned subsidiary of IOC (a Delaware corporation).4 Although wholly owned by IOC, IOC-KC had a certificate of incorporation, bylaws, filed annual reports separate from IOC, was responsible for its own financial dealings, maintained its own bank accounts and financial records, and did not commingle funds or assets with IOC. IOC owned or operated gaming and entertainment facilities in several states.5 IOC and each of its subsidiaries shared the same Chief Executive Officer, President, Secretary, and Treasurer. IOC's corporate office was located in Creve Coeur, Missouri.

From 2013 to 2017, Todd Steffen was the Vice President and General Manager ("VP/GM") of IOC-KC. As VP/GM, Steffen was the highest ranking employee at IOC-KC. He had authority over IOC-KC's day-to-day operations; was responsible for IOC-KC's financial performance; had the power to hire, discipline, and fire IOC-KC employees; controlled all casino operations; established, revised, and implemented policies and procedures; set the employment conditions of IOC-KC employees; and directed IOC-KC employees in the control of gaming assets. IOC-KC's Director of Human Resources,

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Director of Finance, Guest Experience Manager, Director of Operations, Security Manager, and Senior Director of Marketing reported to Steffen. Steffen reported to IOC's Senior Vice President of Regional Operations.

Prior to Steffen becoming IOC-KC's VP/GM, IOC entered into an agreement with Steffen wherein he acknowledged he "may perform services for the benefit of or be employed by an affiliate of [IOC]...and agrees that any reference to the Company herein shall be deemed to include any such affiliate...." Doc. #102-3. IOC later offered to transfer Steffen to IOC-KC, and allow him to serve as IOC-KC's VP/GM. Doc. #102-4. Steffen accepted the offer, agreeing, among other things, he would continue to be entitled to the rights under the agreement he previously executed. Id. While at IOC-KC, Steffen's compensation was paid by IOC-KC. Doc. #108-1, at 2.

Plaintiff was employed from June 2013 to September 2016 as a table games dealer and dual-rate supervisor at the "Isle of Capri Casino" in Kansas City, Missouri. She alleges she was jointly employed by IOC and IOC-KC.

B. Standard

A moving party is entitled to summary judgment on a claim only if there is a showing that "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Williams v. City of St. Louis, 783 F.2d 114, 115 (8th Cir. 1986). "[W]hile the materiality determination rests on the substantive law, it is the substantive law's identification of which facts are critical and which facts are irrelevant that governs." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Thus, "[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Wierman v. Casey's Gen. Stores, 638 F.3d 984, 993 (8th Cir. 2011) (quotation omitted). The Court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, giving that party the benefit of all inferences that may be reasonably drawn from the evidence. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 588-89 (1986); Tyler v. Harper, 744 F.2d 653, 655 (8th Cir. 1984). "[A] nonmovant may not rest upon mere denials or allegations, but must instead set forth specific facts sufficient to raise a genuine issue for trial." Nationwide Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. v. Faircloth, 845 F.3d 378, 382 (8th Cir. 2016) (citations omitted).

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C. Discussion
(1) FLSA and MMWL Claims

To assert an FLSA or MMWL claim against IOC, Plaintiff must establish an employer-employee relationship with IOC. 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) (2018); Mo. Rev. Stat. § 290.505(4) (2006). IOC contends Plaintiff was employed by IOC-KC only, and thus, IOC is entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiff's claims against IOC. Plaintiff, however, contends she was jointly employed by IOC and IOC-KC. Plaintiff bears the burden of proving an employer-employment relationship existed. Reich v. ConAgra, Inc., 987 F.2d 1357, 1360 (8th Cir. 1993). While the analysis is fact intensive, whether an entity is an employer is a question of law. See Berger Transfer & Storage v. Cent. States, Se. & Sw. Areas Pension Fund, 85 F.3d 1374, 1378 (8th Cir. 1996).

Under the FLSA and MMWL, an employer is a "person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee." 29 U.S.C. § 203(d); Mo. Rev. Stat. § 290.500(4).6 A person may be employed by two or more employers at the same time. 29 C.F.R. § 791.2(a). Whether employment is "joint" or "separate and distinct" depends on "all the facts in the particular case." Id. A "joint employment relationship" exists when "the employers are not completely disassociated with...the employment of a particular employee and may be deemed to share control of the employee, directly or indirectly, by reason of the fact that one employer controls, is controlled by,...

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