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Kim v. Park

June 16, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Matthew F. Kennelly, District Judge


Don Jun Kim and Yoon Soon Chung have sued Jun Young Park, Hyun Joung Kim, Wand Dental Lab Corporation, and Central Dental Lab, Inc., asserting violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 207; the Illinois Minimum Wage Law, 820 ILCS 105/1; and the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act, 820 ILCS 115. Defendants Park, Kim, and Wand Dental Lab have moved the Court to dismiss the claims against them.*fn1 The Court, with defendants' consent, converted their motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment with respect to plaintiffs' FLSA claims. For the following reasons, the Court grants the motion.


Because the defendants have moved for summary judgment, the Court views the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs and draws reasonable inferences in their favor. See, e.g., Nat'l Athletic Sportswear, Inc. v. Westfield Ins. Co., 528 F.3d 508, 512 (7th Cir. 2008).

Dong Jun Kim and Yoon Soon Chung, who are husband and wife, are dental technicians who lived and worked in Korea before 2007. In late 2006, Kim and Chung responded to an advertisement in a trade publication of the Korean Dental Technicians Association. The ad solicited dental technicians for work in Wand Dental Lab in Chicago and offered assistance in obtaining the necessary visas.

In February 2007, Kim met with Jin Young Park to discuss the work referenced in the advertisement. Park is the husband of Hyun Joung Kim, the sole shareholder of Wand Dental Lab. Plaintiffs allege that Park told Kim that a work visa would cost Kim $65,000 and that Park would take care of the legal situation. Per Park's instructions, Kim opened a joint bank account with Hyun Joung Kim.

Kim returned to Korea to prepare, along with his wife, for the move to Chicago. While the plaintiffs were in Korea, Park told them to wire more money into the joint account, which they did. By the time the plaintiffs left Korea for Chicago, they had wired about $144,000 into the joint account. Plaintiffs allege that defendants wrongfully removed about $114,270 from the account without reimbursing them.

In late April 2007, Kim and Chung began working as dental technicians for Wand Dental Lab. Plaintiffs performed skilled work, fashioning dental prosthetic devices, including bridges and crowns, from materials such as Diamond HP Burs, opaque paste, adhesives, and enamel. These materials were ordered by defendants from out-of-state suppliers. Plaintiffs used several pieces of machinery belonging to Wand Dental Lab to create the prosthetics.

Between May 1 and July 31, 2007, plaintiffs worked from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, with a 30-minute lunch break each day. They worked about fifty-two hours per week. Kim was paid $2,500 per month and Chung $2,000 per month. Between August 1 and December 1, 2007, they worked about sixty hours per week and were paid the same amounts. Plaintiffs allege that they had no control over their work schedule, which was set by Park.

Wand Dental Lab sold prosthetics exclusively to dentists within Illinois during Kim and Chung's alleged employment. Central Dental Lab sold prosthetics to some dentists outside Illinois. Park took over the management of Central Dental Lab in late 2008 during the illness of its owner, Park's friend and neighbor.


Summary judgment is appropriate if "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). To determine whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the Court must view the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Lesch v. Crown Cork & Seal Co., 282 F.3d 467, 471 (7th Cir. 2002). A genuine issue of triable fact exists only if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

The FLSA requires employers to pay a minimum wage to employees "engaged in interstate commerce" and to compensate such employees at one and one-half times the regular wage rate for time worked in excess of forty hours per week. 29 U.S.C. ยงยง 206(a) & 207(a). For the FLSA to apply, the employer must be a covered enterprise or the employees must be covered individuals, as ...

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