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Charles E. Cuttic v. Crozer-Chester Medical Center

August 12, 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 December 27, 2010 Order, all claims have been dismissed as to Crozer-Keystone Health System, Delaware Memorial Hospital, Taylor Hospital, Springfield Hospital, Community Hospital, and Crozer-Keystone Health Network. Consequently, the only Defendant remaining in this case is CCMC.

Plaintiff's complaint alleged 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 pay for all hours worked in excess of forty hours. Defendant, however, contended that Plaintiff is not entitled to overtime payment because he falls into the FLSA's bona fide professional exemption because Plaintiff serves as a Physician's Assistant ("PA").*fn2 Following the parties' motions for summary judgment, the Court ruled that Plaintiff is not an exempt bona fide professional as defined by the Department of Labor's ("DOL") regulations interpreting this phrase.*fn3 As such, the Court concluded that Plaintiff is entitled to overtime pay.

Defendant asks the Court to reconsider the Court's Order granting Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. Alternatively, Defendant requests that this Court certify the Order granting Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment for interlocutory appeal. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny both of Defendant's requests.

II. MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION

Defendant moves for reconsideration, arguing that the Court should vacate its prior Order to correct a clear error of law and avoid a manifest injustice. Defendant makes four arguments in support of this motion: (1) the Court erred by focusing its analysis on PAs generally rather than focusing specifically on the nature of Plaintiff's employment; (2) the Court erred by relying on the 1973 version of the regulations interpreting the bona fide professional exemption rather than the amended regulations; (3) the Court's reliance on Belt v. Emcare, Inc., 444 F.3d 403 (5th Cir. 2006) is inappropriate because Plaintiff unambiguously meets the requirements of 29 C.F.R. § 541.304; and (4) the Court failed to give all parts of the relevant regulation meaning. The Court will address each of Defendant's arguments in turn.

A. Legal Standard

The purpose of a motion for reconsideration is "to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence." Max's Seafood Cafe ex rel. Lou-Ann, Inc. v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999). A motion for reconsideration should be granted if the moving party establishes: "(1) an intervening change in controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence; or (3) the need to correct clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice." Lazaridis v. Wehmer, 591 F.3d 666, 669 (3d Cir. 2010).

B. The Court Engaged in an Adequate Factual Inquiry

Defendant first contends that the Court overlooked the "cardinal rule" for determining the status of an employee by focusing on PAs generally and ignoring a case-specific analysis. Defendant argues that the undisputed facts establish that Plaintiff falls within § 541.304 because Plaintiff is a "practitioner[] licensed and practicing in the field of medical science." (Mot. For Recons. 3.) Defendant's argument overlooks the Court's examination of facts relevant to this case and the Court's analysis of § 541.304.

The DOL's regulations state that "[a] job title is insufficient to establish the exempt status of an employee. The exempt or nonexempt status of any particular employee must be determined on the basis of whether the employee's salary or duties meet the requirements of the regulations." 29 C.F.R. § 541.2. The Third Circuit emphasized the importance of this principle in Smith v. Johnson & Johnson, 593 F.3d 280 (3d Cir. 2010).*fn4 See 593 F.3d at 283 n.1 (focusing on "the specific facts developed in discovery"). Defendant argues that the Court should have simply looked at all the facts and concluded that Plaintiff falls within the definition of a "bona fide . . . professional," as described in § 541.304, because he is licensed to practice medicine, in Pennsylvania, under the supervision of a physician. (Mot. for Recon. at 4.)

In this case, the Court engaged in an adequate factual examination of Plaintiff's position. The Court examined Plaintiff's job duties, education, and professional licensing. See Cuttic, 760 F. Supp. 2d at 515 (examining the specific nature of Plaintiff's employment). It was unnecessary to elaborate on Plaintiff's job duties because the dispute between the parties did not center on Plaintiff's job duties. See Smith, 593 F.3d at 284 (discussing plaintiff's job duties as explicitly required by the test set forth in 29 C.F.R. § 541.200). Rather, the parties disputed the meaning of § 541.304. Specifically, the parties disputed whether Plaintiff qualifies as an individual who holds a license that allows him to "practice medicine" as described in § 541.304 given that his license is subject to the caveat that he is only allowed to practice medicine under the supervision of a physician. See Cuttic, 760 F. Supp. 2d at 515 (citing Plaintiff's deposition).*fn5 Unlike Smith, the dispute did not center solely on Plaintiff's salary and duties. Under these circumstances, the Court found that Plaintiff's possession of a license to practice medicine under physician supervision was not dispositive of his exempt or non-exempt status. Based on the aforementioned, the Court adequately considered all facts relevant to the dispute at hand.

C. The Court Properly Interpreted the 2004 Regulations And Correctly Relied Upon Applicable Law Defendant next argues that the Court overlooked the 2004 amendments to the DOL regulations and asserts that the Court's reliance on Belt is misplaced. Defendant also reasons that the Court's interpretation of the 2004 regulations is ...


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