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SUTTON v. HILCO HOMES CORP.

April 19, 1968

Douglas Sutton, et al., Plaintiffs
v.
Hilco Homes Corporation, Defendant


Masterson, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: MASTERSON

Plaintiffs, Douglas Sutton, Eugene Pinkney, Harry Whitfield, and James Kelly, brought this action against their former employer, Hilco Homes Corporation, seeking to recover from it unpaid overtime compensation and an additional amount as liquidated damages. Plaintiffs' claims allegedly arise under the Fair Labor Standards Act, Title 29 U.S.C.A. §§ 207, 216. Accordingly, plaintiffs invoke the jurisdiction of this court pursuant to Title 28 U.S.C.A. § 1337 which establishes original jurisdiction here of any ". . . civil action or proceeding arising under any Act of Congress regulating commerce . . ." irrespective of diversity of citizenship or amount involved. See, Ferrante v. Trojan Powder Co., 79 F. Supp. 502, 503 (E.D. Pa., 1947); Berger v. Clouser, 36 F. Supp. 168, 170-71 (M.D. Pa., 1940).

 Plaintiffs have moved for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, on the basis ". . . that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." The defendant opposes this motion on the basis that there are unresolved issues of material fact. The defendant also has interposed several arguments directed to matters which must be decided preliminarily before consideration of the plaintiffs' motion. These contentions are:

 (1) that the plaintiffs do not have a claim under the Fair Labor Standards Act because they are members of a class of employees which is specifically exempted from the Act's coverage; and,

 (2) assuming that plaintiffs do allege a federally cognizable cause of action, they are not properly before this Court because of their failure to exhaust the grievance procedures established in the contract between the defendant and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local # 470, the union to which all four plaintiffs belong.

 Defendant's first contention is based upon the language of Title 29 U.S.C.A. § 213(b), which provides, in pertinent part:

 
"The provisions of section 207 of this title shall not apply with respect to -
 
(1) any employee with respect to whom the Interstate Commerce Commission has power to establish qualifications and maximum hours of service pursuant to the provisions of section 304 of Title 49 . . ."

 Title 49 U.S.C.A. § 304(a) provides, in pertinent part:

 
(a) It shall be the duty of the Commission -
 
(3) To establish for private carriers of property by motor vehicle . . . reasonable requirements to promote safety of operation, and to that end prescribe qualifications and maximum hours of service of employees . . ."

 The critical question is thus whether the plaintiff-employees are employees ". . . with respect to whom the Interstate Commerce Commission has power to establish qualifications . . ." This, in turn, depends upon the nature of the defendant-employer's business.

 The defendant, Hilco Home Corporation, is a "private carrier of property" as that term is defined in the Interstate Commerce Act. *fn1" The plaintiffs themselves in paragraphs 6 and 10 of their complaint have alleged the interstate nature of the defendant's operation. Thus, under Title 49 U.S.C.A. § 304(a), the defendant is clearly subject to the regulatory power of the Interstate Commerce Commission. It is also clear from the facts alleged in the complaint that the plaintiffs were employees of the defendant, and, as truck-drivers, performed duties which substantially affected the safety of the defendant's interstate operations. The Interstate Commerce Commission is directly concerned with the performance of such duties. See, Harshman v. Well Service, Inc., 248 F. Supp. 953, 960 (1964), aff'd, per curiam, 355 F.2d 206 (C.A. 3, 1965).

 In view of these facts the law is well-established that the plaintiffs' claims for overtime compensation are barred by the exemptive provision of Title 29 U.S.C.A. § 213(b)(1). See, Goldberg v. Faber Industries, Inc., 291 F.2d 232, 235 (C.A. 7, 1961), Harshman, supra, 248 F. Supp. at p. 954, Southland Corp. (Cabell's Dairy Division) v. Shew, 248 F. Supp. 12, 14 (N.D. Texas, Dallas Division, 1965). It should be noted that this exemption is effective even if the Interstate Commerce Commission has not in fact exercised its regulatory power. See, ...


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