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WILLIAMS v. ALEX'S TRANSP.

July 16, 1997

DANNY WILLIAMS, on or behalf of himself and all other Plaintiff's similarly situated, known and unknown, Plaintiff,
v.
ALEX'S TRANSPORTATION, INC., a New Mexico corporation, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: NORGLE

 CHARLES R. NORGLE, SR., District Judge:

 Before the court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. For the following reasons, the motion is granted.

 I. FACTS

 Defendant, Alex's Transportation, Inc. ("Alex's"), contracts with a number of major railroad companies to provide crew hauling services. Alex's drivers haul railroad crews from (1) railyard to railyard, (2) hotels to railyards, and (3) hotels and railyards to trains at random points along the rail lines throughout the states of Illinois, Kansas, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and their respective neighboring states.

 Plaintiff, Danny Williams ("Williams"), drove for Alex's for approximately three weeks at Alex's Illinois facility. Alex's Illinois facility serves the following: all of Illinois; Hammond, Indiana; LaCrosse Wisconsin; and Ft. Madison, Iowa. At the start of his employment, Williams read and signed Alex's job description. Alex's job description states that he would be responsible for transporting "trainmen over specified, regular and irregular routes to local or distant points according to railroad time schedule and location preference." (Williams Dep. at Ex. 1.)

 On a given day, Williams did not know where he would be traveling. Williams would simply punch in and wait for a call from a dispatcher. When a railroad company's dispatcher called Williams with a route, it could mean that he was traveling anywhere in Illinois, or to Hammond, Indiana, LaCrosse, Wisconsin, or Ft. Madison, Iowa. During Williams' three week employment, he did in fact travel once out of the State of Illinois to LaCrosse, Wisconsin.

 Because Alex's did not pay Williams overtime compensation pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 207 during his employment, Williams has brought the instant action. Alex's moves for a summary judgment and argues that the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") are not applicable to Alex's because Williams performed exempt motor carrier and railroad carrier work.

 II. DISCUSSION

 Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show 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." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); see also Salima v. Scherwood South, Inc., 38 F.3d 929, 931 (7th Cir. 1994). "One of the principal purposes of the summary judgment rule is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims and defenses." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986).

 When considering all the evidence presented in a motion for summary judgment, a court cannot make credibility determinations nor can it choose between competing possible inferences. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). The court views the record, and resolves all reasonable inferences drawn from the record, in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Plair v. E.J. Brach & Sons, Inc., 105 F.3d 343, 346 (7th Cir. 1997). Accordingly, if the evidence presented by the parties is subject to conflicting interpretations, or if reasonable minds could differ as to its significance, summary judgment must not be granted. O'Connor v. Chicago Transit Auth., 985 F.2d 1362, 1366 (7th Cir. 1993).

 A. Motor Carrier Exemption

 The FLSA provides that employers do not have to pay overtime compensation to "any employee with respect to whom the Secretary of Transportation has power to establish qualifications and maximum hours of service pursuant to the provisions of section 31502 of Title 49 . . . ." 29 U.S.C. § 213(b)(1). Section 31502 provides that the Secretary of Transportation ("SofT") has the authority to regulate "employees of, and safety of operation and equipment of, a motor carrier . . . ." 49 U.S.C. § 31502(b)(1). "The term 'motor carrier' means a person providing motor vehicle transportation for compensation." 49 U.S.C. § 13102(12); see 49 U.S.C. § 31501(2).

 When a motor carrier relies on the motor carrier exemption to defeat employees' claims for overtime compensation, the exemption is construed narrowly against the carrier. Turk v. Buffets, Inc., 940 F. Supp. 1255, 1259 (N.D. Ill. 1996) (citing Arnold v. Ben Kanowsky, Inc., 361 U.S. 388, 394 n.11, 4 L. Ed. 2d 393, 80 S. Ct. 453 (1960)). Thus, ...


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