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Kim v. Hopfauf

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

January 10, 2017

JAE HWANG KIM, Plaintiff,
v.
HELEN KIM HOPFAUF, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          John Robert Blakey United States District Judge.

         Defendant Helen Kim Hopfauf (“Defendant”) allegedly employed Plaintiff Jae Hwang Kim (“Plaintiff”) at Sunshine Cleaners in Grayslake, Illinois. Plaintiff claims that Defendant failed to pay him proper wages and thus Plaintiff filed suit under both the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq. (“FLSA”), and the Illinois Minimum Wage Law, 820 ILCS § 105/1, et seq. (“IMWL”). Defendant has moved for partial summary judgment, arguing that this Court is not empowered to consider Plaintiff's FLSA claims. [20] at 1-2. For the reasons discussed below, Defendant's motion is denied.

         I. Background[1]

         Plaintiff ostensibly worked for Defendant at Sunshine Cleaners in Grayslake, Illinois from February 2015 through October 2015. [23-2] at 1. It is undisputed that in 2015, Sunshine Cleaners had a gross sales volume less than $500, 000. [23-3] at 2.

         Plaintiff claims that his job responsibilities included operating the cash register, regularly processing customers' credit cards, and telephonically ordering “dry cleaning supplies 2-3 times from Cleaner's Supply in Conklin, New York.” [23-2] at 2. Plaintiff also alleges that he received the material ordered from Cleaner's Supply, and regularly used those materials while employed at Sunshine Cleaners. Id.

         II. Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Spurling v. C & M Fine Pack, Inc., 739 F.3d 1055, 1060 (7th Cir. 2014). A genuine dispute as to any material fact exists if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of establishing that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, this Court must construe all facts and reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See CTL ex rel. Trebatoski v. Ashland Sch. Dist., 743 F.3d 524, 528 (7th Cir. 2014).

         III. Analysis

         A. Plaintiff's Interrogatory Response

         Defendant argues that when analyzing the present motion, the Court should not consider Plaintiff's allegations regarding his interactions with Cleaner's Supply in New York, because Plaintiff failed to relay those contentions during discovery. Defendant's argument relies upon the following interrogatory: “With respect to paragraph 20 of the Plaintiff's Complaint, what is the basis of your allegation that the Sunshine Cleaners was engaged in interstate commerce?” [22-3] at 5. Plaintiff's response, in full, reads: “Because it accepts credit card [sic].” Id. Plaintiff has never amended this response. Id.

         The general purpose of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is to promote liberal discovery in an effort to narrow the issues for trial and to prevent unfair surprise. To advance this purpose, Rule 26(e)(1) imposes a duty upon all parties to amend and supplement previous discovery responses if a prior response is known to be incomplete or incorrect. No motion to compel is necessary to trigger this obligation to supplement. See, e.g., Alldread v. City of Grenada, 988 F.2d 1425, 1436 (5th Cir. 1993) (“Rule 26 imposes no requirement, express or implied, that a motion to compel precede a court's imposition of a sanction . . . for failure to supplement.”). A party need not supplement its answers to prior discovery, however, if the information has “otherwise been made known” during the discovery process. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(e)(1)(A).

         Plaintiff's failure to supplement his interrogatory responses is inconsistent with the spirit of Rule 26. That said, Defendant already had access to this information, because Defendant (not Plaintiff) previously produced the Cleaner's Supply invoice Plaintiff now relies upon. Because the information at issue had “otherwise been made known” to Defendant, the Court will consider Plaintiff's interactions with Cleaner's Supply when evaluating Defendant's motion for summary judgment.

         B. Individual Coverage

         An employee can fall under the purview of the FLSA in multiple ways, but Plaintiff concedes that only one of these possibilities is implicated here: “individual” or “traditional” coverage. Under this standard, the FLSA covers an employee if that employee is “engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce.” 29 U.S.C. § 207(a). Plaintiff further acknowledges that he was not engaged in ...


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