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Sedrick v. All Pro Logistics

June 8, 2009

JAMES SEDRICK, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ALL PRO LOGISTICS, LLC, AND RONALD L. LEEK, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Joan B. Gottschall

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

Plaintiff James Sedrick has sued Defendants All Pro Logistics, LLC, and Ronald L. Leek (collectively "APL"), alleging that APL failed to pay Sedrick time and a half for overtime hours worked, as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"). Sedrick had previously intended for this to be a representative action, but now seeks to pursue relief only on his own behalf. Sedrick has also raised state law claims regarding the lack of overtime pay, but the parties agree these claims will rise or fall with Sedrick's FLSA claim, and the merits of these claims will not otherwise be addressed. There are no material facts in dispute between the parties. The only question is whether APL is exempted from being required to pay overtime under the FLSA because of the Motor Carrier Act ("MCA") exemption. Both parties have moved for summary judgment on the issue of liability, which is resolved here.

I. FACTS

APL provided transportation services to Bay Valley Foods ("BVF"). BVF produced a coffee creamer ("the product") which APL transported for BVF. BVF produced the product at a facility in Pecatonica, Illinois. After being manufactured and placed into packaging, the product was assigned to particular customers, and a label was placed on the product to indicate the intended customer. The product was then transported to BVF's warehouse facility in South Beloit, Illinois, one of several warehouse facilities BVF has throughout the country.*fn1

The product was allocated to customers pursuant to quarterly "forecasts" given to BVF by the customers, reflecting the customer's likely future demand. However, because many BVF customers were large companies with multiple stores-some outside of Illinois and some within Illinois-the specific geographic destination of the product was unknown at the time it was packaged at the Pecatonica facility.*fn2 The specific quantity a customer would actually receive was not known; a customer's product allocation remained at the South Beloit facility until the customer contacted BVF and requested that part of its allocation be sent to a particular store, or stores, of the customer. Allocations of the product could remain at the South Beloit warehouse for as little as a day before being sent on to a customer, or as long as a year, after which time the product was recalled and would not be shipped to customers. Depending on the need of the customers, the product would sometimes be delivered within Illinois, and would sometimes be delivered outside of Illinois.

Sedrick was employed by APL as a local carrier truck driver. He worked as a "spot driver," delivering packaging material produced in Rockwell, Illinois to BVF's facility in Pecatonica, and also delivering the product from Pecatonica to the warehouse in South Beloit. Sedrick did not engage in any interstate travel; his work was strictly intrastate. Sedrick did not deliver any of the product to BVF's customers, though other APL drivers would provide this service to BVF, and would engage in interstate travel during at least some of the deliveries.

II. ANALYSIS

Summary judgment is warranted where "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 a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Brengettcy v. Horton, 423 F.3d 674, 680 (7th Cir. 2005). All facts, and any inferences to be drawn from them, must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Wis. Cent., Ltd. v. Shannon, 539 F.3d 751, 756 (7th Cir. 2008). Although this is a cross-motion for summary judgment, the arguments presented by each party in its brief for summary judgment are identical to those raised in its brief against the other's summary judgment motion, and thus both motions will be considered together.

The legal question this action presents is narrow, though several statutes are relevant. This case involves the question of whether an FLSA exemption obviates Sedrick's claim to overtime wages. FLSA exemptions are to be narrowly construed, and the party claiming the exemption has the burden of showing its entitlement to the exemption. Bankston v. Illinois, 60 F.3d 1249, 1252 (7th Cir. 1995).

Section 207 of the FLSA requires employers to pay employees time and a half for any work performed beyond forty hours in a given week. 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1).*fn3 There are exceptions to this rule, contained within section 213. One exception originates from the MCA, and provides that the provisions of section 207 do not apply 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." § 213(b)(1).

Section 31502 of Title 49 relates to the regulation of certain commercial motor vehicles, and permits the Secretary of Transportation to regulate various aspects of the business of commercial motor vehicles, including the maximum hours a driver may work, the qualifications of drivers, and the safety of the equipment. 49 U.S.C. § 31502(b). These provisions apply to, inter alia, "motor private carriers," as that term is defined in section 13102 of Title 49. § 31501. The parties agree that the MCA applies to Sedrick only if he is found to qualify as a motor private carrier.

Section 13102 defines "motor private carrier" as follows: The term "motor private carrier" means a person, other than a motor carrier, transporting property by motor vehicle when-

(A) the transportation is as provided in section 13501 of this title;

(B) the person is the owner, lessee, or bailee of the property ...


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