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Wirtz v. Turner

April 7, 1964

W. WILLARD WIRTZ, SECRETARY OF LABOR, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT
v.
GEORGE TURNER, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Author: Duffy

Before DUFFY, CASTLE and SWYGERT, Circuit Judges.

DUFFY, C. J.: This suit was brought by the Secretary of Labor under Section 16(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act,*fn1 pursuant to the written request of Martin Halma, a former employee of defendant. The suit sought to recover $488.20 in unpaid overtime compensation.

At the close of plaintiff's case, the District Court granted the motion of the defendant for a directed verdict. In explanation of such action, the Court said:

"In the light of that record, with the beneficial plaintiff saying on one occasion that everything was square and then two months later making a claim, and then at the trial saying he doesn't know how much is owing, I feel that you would be unable to go into the jury room and arrive at any amount. . . ."

Previously the Court had asked Mr. Halma several questions:

"The Court: How much money do you say now that Mr. Turner owes you?

The Witness: What the letter said, your Honor.

The Court: I say - read the question to the witness. (Question read by the reporter.)

The Witness: I do not know.

The Court: You don't know how much money you have coming. That is all. You may step down."

Defendant is a contract mail carrier for the United States Postoffice Department. During the period covered by this action, April 1, 1960 to July 15, 1961, he employed complainant Halma principally on a regularly scheduled route between McHenry, Illinois and Chicago. At first, Halma was paid a straight weekly salary. Statuory overtime wages were not paid to him for hours worked in excess of forty hours a week until after the period covered by this action. $TThe evidence presented by the Secretary to establish the number of hours work done by claimant showed that during the period April 1, 1960 to October 28, 1960, the schedule for the Chicago-McHenry route called for departure from the McHenry postoffice at 6:40 p.m. and arrival at Chicago Suburban Truck Terminal at 9:30 p.m., with intermediate stops being made on the way. This was followed by a return trip leaving Chicago at 2 a.m. and arriving at McHenry at 5 a.m. This schedule was followed daily except Sundays and some holidays.

In following this schedule, claimant testified he would begin his work day with arrival at 5:30 p.m. at a DX Service Station where defendant's tractor and trailer were kept. After gassing and oiling the tractor, he would drive approximately one and a half miles to McHenry postoffice where he loaded the mail that was to be loaded on the truck. Claimant's scheduled departure time was 6:40 p.m. After arriving in Chicago, he would await his turn in line and unload the tractor and would spot the vehicle in back of the postoffice loading dock. He would complete this about 10:05 p.m. He then started to work again at the scheduled time of 2 a.m. the following morning. After arrival at McHenry and unloading the mail, he returned the vehicle to the DX station, usually arriving there about 6 a.m.

There was additional testimony about extra hours worked due to breakdowns of the truck and other delays such as that caused by a dead battery. There was further testimony of hours worked in the period October 29, 1960 to February 9, 1961 where there were extra mail runs and some twenty-one extra trips were confirmed by postoffice memoranda as occurring during the 1960 Christmas holiday season. Other testimony covered the period from February 10, 1961 to July 15, 1961.

In an attempt to demonstrate the method for computing the wages due on the basis of overtime hours worked, the Secretary called as a witness one Max Packer who, for twenty-four years, had been a wage-hour investigator under the Fair Labor Standards Act and who had conducted some two thousand investigations including the investigation of defendant's compensation practices. However, upon objection by defendant, the Court would not permit Mr. Packer to testify as to the ...


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