DARIUSZ JAWORSKI, BOGUSLAW MOSKAL, and RYSZARD BESTER, Plaintiffs-Appellees,
MASTER HAND CONTRACTORS, INC., et al., Defendants-Appellants.
October 31, 2017
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 09 C 07255 - John
J. Tharp, Jr., Judge.
WOOD, Chief Judge, and Easterbrook and Sykes, Circuit Judges.
Jaworski, Boguslaw Moskal, and Ryszard Bester were never paid
for construction services they performed for Master Hand
Contractors, Inc. They filed this lawsuit to force Master
Hand to pay up. The district court sided with the plaintiffs
through two partial summary judgments and a bench trial.
Liability in the neighborhood of $340, 000 now hangs over
Master Hand's head.
appeal asks us to review certain elements of the judge's
various rulings. We decline to do so. Master Hand
inexplicably failed to submit critical district-court
opinions with its opening brief. This is a flagrant violation
of Circuit Rule 30 that we cannot overlook. Accordingly, we
summarily affirm the judgment as a sanction.
remedy alone does not make things right. Master Hand's
appeal is patently frivolous. Its arguments, once deciphered,
are nothing more than naked assertions. And they fail on
their face. Jaworski and his coappellees should not have been
made to defend against such an appeal. As an additional
sanction, we order Master Hand to pay their attorneys'
fees and costs.
are seven parties in this case, but we simplify things as
follows: The defendants ("Master Hand") are general
contractors in Illinois. The plaintiffs
("Jaworski") provided electrical, mechanical, and
other construction services to Master Hand over several
years. Some of these services went unpaid, so Jaworski filed
suit in federal court. Specifically, he alleged that Master
Hand violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and three
state laws: the Illinois Minimum Wage Law, the Illinois Wage
Payment and Collection Act, and the Employee Classification
Act. Jaworski sought backpay, punitive damages, and
appeal centers almost entirely on the claim under the
Employee Classification Act, which makes it unlawful for
contractors (i.e., construction firms) to misclassify an
employee as an independent contractor. 820 III. Comp. Stat.
§ 185/20. Unlike the two other state labor laws, the
Classification Act presumes that the complainant is an
employee unless the contractor can prove otherwise. See
id. § 185/10(b). If the contractor cannot meet its
burden, the misclassified employee is entitled to double
"the amount of any wages, salary, employment benefits,
or other compensation denied or lost to the person by
reason of the violation." Id. § 185/60(a)(1)
alleged that Master Hand misclassified him as an independent
contractor and that he lost compensation as a result. Master
Hand disagreed on both points, arguing that Jaworski could
not have been its employee because he was engaged in an
independently established trade. But even if Jaworski were an
employee, Master Hand asserted, he still could not prevail on
a claim under the Classification Act. Jaworski did not miss
out on compensation "by reason of the [classification]
violation, " id., but rather because Master
Hand simply ran out of money to pay him. The well ran dry, so
arguments were resolved below in three phases. In the first
order granting partial summary judgment, the district judge
held that Master Hand had misclassified Jaworski as an
independent contractor in violation of the Act. In the second
order, the judge grappled with what precisely to do about it.
The Act allows employees to collect compensation lost by
virtue of their misclassification, but nowhere does it lay
out what compensation an employee is actually owed. The judge
ultimately concluded that a claimant under the Act is
entitled to the compensation guaranteed by the Illinois
Minimum Wage Law and the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection
Act but without having to prove that he is an employee for
the purpose of those statutes. This is important because
unlike the Classification Act, the two wage-payment statutes
do not grant plaintiffs a starting presumption that they are
employees. See id. §§ 105/3(c)-(d), 115/2.
case then proceeded to a bench trial on the remaining issues,
and the judge ruled for Jaworski on all counts. He found that
Master Hand violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and the two
state wage-payment laws in addition to the violation of the
Classification Act. The judge also rejected Master Hand's
defense of nonpayment by reason of insolvency. He then
ordered Master Hand to pay nearly $200, 000 in damages for
all four of its statutory violations, plus more than $150,
000 in attorneys' fees.
Hand appealed, arguing that the judge made certain factual
and legal errors regarding the Classification Act claim.
Specifically, Master Hand challenges the judge's
misclassification determination, his decision to allow
damages for the Classification Act violation in accordance