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Charles E. Cuttic v. Crozer-Chester Medical Center

January 4, 2011

CHARLES E. CUTTIC,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
CROZER-CHESTER MEDICAL CENTER, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Eduardo C. Robreno, J.

MEMORANDUM

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Charles E. Cuttic ("Plaintiff") commenced this action as a putative collective action*fn1 against Defendants, Crozer-Chester Medical Center ("CCMC" or "Defendant"), CrozerKeystone Health System, Delaware Memorial Hospital, Taylor Hospital, Springfield Hospital, Community Hospital, and CrozerKeystone Health Network. Pursuant to this Court's Order dated December 27, 2010, all claims have been dismissed as to CrozerKeystone Health System, Delaware Memorial Hospital, Taylor Hospital, Springfield Hospital, Community Hospital, and CrozerKeystone Health Network. Consequently, the only Defendant remaining in this case is CCMC.

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant violated the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 207(a), by not compensating him at a rate of one-and-a-half times his regular hourly rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of forty hours per week. Defendant claims that Plaintiff was not entitled to overtime because, as a physician assistant ("PA"), he falls into the FLSA's professional exemption.*fn2 The issue before the Court is whether, pursuant to the FLSA's professional exemption, PAs are exempt from the overtime requirements mandated by the FLSA. The parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment. Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff's motion will be granted and Defendant's motion will be denied.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Plaintiff's Employment Plaintiff is employed by CCMC as a PA in the cardiac surgery service. (Pl. Dep. at 5.) Plaintiff testified that he practices medicine under the supervision of his attending physicians and has been doing so, at CCMC, for fifteen years. (Id. at 54.)

Plaintiff has a Bachelor of Health Science Degree from Duke University and is certified by the National Commission of Certification of Physician Assistants ("NCCPA"). (Id. at 4-5.)

Accordingly, he is licensed to practice medicine under the supervision of a physician in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and indeed so practices. (Id. at 50, 54); 49 Pa. Code § 18.151(a) ("The physician assistant practices medicine with physician supervision."). At CCMC, in addition to Plaintiff's general privileges, Plaintiff has various cardiothoracic privileges. (William Krieder Dep. ("CCMC Dep.") at 66-76, Exh. 8.) Generally, procedures that Plaintiff performs as a PA must be performed under the supervision of a physician. (Pl. Dep. at 45.)

B. Plaintiff's Compensation Plaintiff, at all times, has been compensated by Defendant on an hourly basis and, accordingly, his wages are wholly dependent upon how much time Plaintiff works. (CCMC Dep. at 47-48.) Plaintiff is not paid on a "salary" or "fee" basis and does not receive overtime compensation from Defendant. (Id. at 48, 56.) Over the last three years, his hourly rate of pay has been approximately $50.00 per hour. (Id. at 48-49, Exh. 4.)

III. LEGAL STANDARD

A. Summary Judgment Standard Summary judgment is appropriate if there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). "A motion for summary judgment will not be defeated by 'the mere existence' of some disputed facts, but will be denied when there is a genuine issue of material fact." Am. Eagle Outfitters v. Lyle & Scott Ltd., 584 F.3d 575, 581 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986)). A fact is "material" if proof of its existence or non-existence might affect the outcome of the litigation, and a dispute is "genuine" if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

In undertaking this analysis, the court views the facts proffered by the non-moving party as true and considers the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. "After making all reasonable inferences in the non-moving party's favor, there is a genuine issue of material fact if a reasonable jury could find for the nonmoving party." Pignataro v. Port Auth. of N.Y. & N.J., 593 F.3d 265, 268 (3d Cir. 2010) (citing Reliance Ins. Co. v. Moessner, 121 F.3d 895, 900 (3d Cir. 1997)). While the moving party bears the initial burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, the non-moving party "may not rely merely on allegations or denials in its own pleading; rather, its response must-by affidavits or as otherwise provided in [Rule 56]-set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2).

B. FLSA Exemptions

The FLSA requires that employees receive overtime pay for all hours worked in excess of forty hours per workweek, and the overtime pay must be at least one-and-one-half times the "regular rate" of pay. See 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1).*fn3 Three exceptions apply to this general rule. Individuals employed "in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity" are exempt from the FLSA's overtime requirements and need not receive overtime wages. 29 U.S.C. ยง 213(a)(1). These exemptions are to be construed narrowly against the employer, and the employer bears the burden of proof that a given employee falls within the scope of an overtime exemption. See Pignataro, 593 F.3d 265, 268 (3d Cir. 2010); ...


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