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Enger v. Chicago Carriage Cab Co.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

December 29, 2014

PETER ENGER, KAREN CHAMBERLAIN, COURTNEY CREATER, GREGORY MCGEE, and FINN EBELECHUKWU, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
CHICAGO CARRIAGE CAB CO., YELLOW CAB AFFILIATION, INC., FLASH CAB CO., DISPATCH TAXI AFFILIATION, INC., SIMON GARBER, MICHAEL LEVINE, HENRY ELIZAR, SAVAS TSITIRIDIS, and EVEGNY FRIEDMAN, Defendants

Page 713

For Peter Enger, Karen Chamberlain, Courtney Creater, Finn Ebelechukwu, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs: John E Duke, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Lichten & Liss-Riordan, P.C., Boston, MA; Shannon E Liss-Riordan, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Lichten & Riordan, P.C., Boston, MA; Ryan F Stephan, Teresa M. Becvar, James B. Zouras, Stephan, Zouras, LLP, Chicago, IL.

For Gregory McGee, Plaintiff: John E Duke, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Lichten & Liss-Riordan, P.C., Boston, MA; Ryan F Stephan, Teresa M. Becvar, James B. Zouras, Stephan, Zouras, LLP, Chicago, IL.

For Chicago Carriage Cab Co., Yellow Cab Affiliation, Inc., Flash Cab Company, Simon Garber, Michael Levine, Henry Elizar, Defendants: Brian P Paul, LEAD ATTORNEY, Michael Best & Friedrich, Chicago, IL; Carrie A. Hall, LEAD ATTORNEY, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, Chicago, IL; Michael A. Stiegel, LEAD ATTORNEY, Benjamin Thomas Johnson, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP (Illinois), Chicago, IL.

Dispatch Taxi Affiliation, Inc., Defendant, Pro se.

For Savas Tsitiridis, Evgeny Freidman, Defendants: Jeffrey H. Bunn, Latimer LeVay Fyock, Chicago, IL.

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MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Andrea R. Wood, United States District Judge.

In this putative class action, current and former Chicago taxi drivers have sued the taxi cab services for which they have worked, as well as a number of individuals who own those services. The plaintiffs claim that these defendants violated the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (" IWPCA" ), 820 ILCS 115 et seq., by improperly classifying them as independent contractors, failing to pay them the minimum wage or overtime pay, improperly charging them to work, and forcing them to bear their own operating expenses. In addition to the IWPCA claim, the Complaint also asserts a cause of action based on a theory of unjust enrichment. The defendants have moved to dismiss these claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (the " Motion" ) (Dkt. No. 33). Because the plaintiffs have failed to allege the existence of an agreement by which the defendants were obligated to pay them, as required to state a claim under the IWPCA, the Motion is granted.[1]

BACKGROUND

As set forth in the Complaint, plaintiffs Peter Enger, Karen Chamberlain, Courtney Creater, Gregory McGee, and Finn Ebelechukwu (collectively, " Plaintiffs" ) work as taxi drivers in Chicago, Illinois. (Compl. ¶ ¶ 2-6, Dkt. No. 1.)[2] Plaintiffs worked for defendant cab services Chicago Carriage Cab Co., Yellow Cab Affiliation, Inc., 5 Star Flash Inc., and Dispatch Taxi Affiliation, Inc. (the " Cab Defendants" ) or their affiliates. ( Id. ¶ ¶ 8, 10, 12, 14.) Defendants Simon Garber, Michael Levine, Henry Elizar, Savas Tsitiridis, and Evegny Friedman (the " Individual Defendants" and, collectively with the Cab Defendants, " Defendants" ) own various of the Cab Defendants. ( Id. ¶ ¶ 8-16.)

To drive for one of the Cab Defendants, taxi drivers must pay fees, either directly to the Cab Defendants or their affiliates. ( Id. ¶ 22.) The drivers may pay these fees on a weekly basis or a daily basis. If paid on a daily basis, the fees range from $100 to $125 or more, while weekly fees range from $500 to $800 or more. ( Id. ¶ ¶ 23-24.) Taxi drivers receive no wages for their work; instead, the drivers' only source of income from their work for Defendants is what they manage to make in fares and tips. ( Id. ¶ 25.) In addition to paying fees, drivers must also pay the expenses necessary to operate a taxi, including fuel, airport taxes, upkeep, and often insurance payments. ( Id. ¶ 27.) As a result of this arrangement, taxi drivers in Chicago who pay companies to drive a taxi often receive less than minimum wage from what remains of their fares and tips. For some

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shifts, they might even pay more in fees and expenses than they receive from fares and tips. ( Id. ΒΆ 28.) In addition, the vast majority of these drivers work at least 12 hours per day, often six days per week. And even though they routinely work more than 40 hours per week, they do ...


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