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Hutchinson v. Honeymoon Corp.

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

December 19, 2017

KATHRYN E. HUTCHINSON, Plaintiff,
v.
HONEYMOON CORPORATION, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER AND DECISION (RESOLVING DOC. 11)

          JOHN R. ADAMS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on a motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants, Honeymoon Corporation (at times “the Honeymoon”) and Stephen Rector. Docs. 11. Defendants have moved for judgment as a matter of law on the second Amended Complaint filed by Plaintiff Kathryn E. Hutchinson. The Court finds that no genuine issues of material fact exist as to Plaintiff's federal claims. As such, for the following reasons, Defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law, and their motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff's federal claims is GRANTED . The Court declines to exercise jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state-law claims and thus, the remaining claims are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

         I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Defendant Stephen Rector owns Defendant Honeymoon Corporation, which operates as a local diner doing business as the Honeymoon Grille. The restaurant opened for business in late August of 2013. Doc. 11-1. That same month, the Honeymoon Grille hired Plaintiff Kathryn Hutchinson[1] to work as a server. Doc. 9. She also worked as a food runner and supervisor until her employment was terminated in late October 2015. Doc. 11-1.

         In her second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that she worked more than 40 hours per week but was not paid overtime in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and the Ohio Minimum Wage Fair Standards Act. Doc. 5. She also asserts a claim for retaliation after Defendants discussed filing counterclaims. Doc. 5. Defendants later filed a motion to dismiss, which was converted to a motion for summary judgment. Defendants then supplemented their motion, and Hutchinson filed her brief and opposition. The matter is now ripe for a decision by this Court.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A party seeking summary judgment must show “that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A fact is material if it is one that might affect the outcome of the suit under governing law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Determination of whether a factual issue is “genuine” requires consideration of the applicable evidentiary burdens. Id. At 252. Further, on summary judgment, the inferences to be drawn from underlying facts must be viewed “in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion.” U.S. v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962). The pivotal question in deciding a motion for summary judgment is whether a reasonable fact finder could make a finding in favor of either party. See Anderson 477 U.S. at 250 (“The inquiry performed is the threshold inquiry of determining whether there is the need for a trial - whether, in other words, there are any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party.”).

         The initial burden of showing the absence of any “genuine issue” belongs to the moving party. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the moving party has satisfied its burden of proof, the burden then shifts to the nonmoving party. The nonmoving party may not simply rely on its pleadings, but must “produce evidence that results in a conflict of material fact to be resolved by a jury” or other fact-finder at trial. Cox v. Kentucky Dep't of Transp., 53 F.3d 146, 150 (6th Cir. 1995). A party opposing summary judgment must show that there are facts genuinely in dispute and must do so by citing to the record. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(a).

         III. LEGAL ANALYSIS

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) passed by Congress in 1938, is a comprehensive remedial scheme requiring a minimum wage and limiting the maximum number of hours worked. The FLSA prohibits employers from employing any worker for a work week longer than forty hours unless the employee receives compensation for employment in excess of forty hours. 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1). Such compensation must be at a rate not less than one and one half times the regular rate at which the employee is employed. Id.
* * *
There are essentially two ways in which employees gain protection under the FLSA. First, employees may be employed in an enterprise engaged in commerce or the production of goods for commerce and thus enjoy “enterprise coverage.” Second, employees may themselves be engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce, enjoying “individual” coverage.

Kowalski v. Kowalski Heat Treating, Co., 920 F.Supp. 799, 802-803 (N.D. Ohio 1996); 29 U.S.C. §207(a). Commerce is defined as “trade, commerce, transportation, transmission, or communication among the several States or between any State and any place outside thereof.” 29 U.S.C. §203(b); Williams v. Hooah Sec. Services, LLC, 729 F.Supp.2d 1011, 1013 (W.D. Tenn. 2010).

         To recover unpaid overtime, the burden rests first on the plaintiff to prove the following factors by a preponderance of the evidence: 1) there exists an employer-employee relationship; 2) there was an engagement in activities within coverage of the FLSA; and 3) the defendant failed to pay the plaintiff the overtime pay required by law. Kowalski, 920 F.Supp. at 802-83. “Once the plaintiff has made a prima facie case, the burden shifts to the employer to show by a preponderance of the evidence that one of the exemptions afforded by Section 213 of the FLSA applies to the employment in question.” Id., citing 29 U.S.C. §201 et seq.

         A. Enterprise Coverage

         To qualify under the FLSA's enterprise coverage, the enterprise must have:

employees engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce, or [have] employees handling, selling, or otherwise working on goods or materials that have been moved in or produced for commerce by any person; and ... [must have an] annual volume ...

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