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Huffman v. American Process Piping, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Colorado

April 23, 2015

SHAUN HUFFMAN, HENRY PEREZ, WILLIAM HARDING, IV, and EVERETT BENNETT, Plaintiffs,
v.
AMERICAN PROCESS PIPING, INC., individually and d/b/a AMERICAN PROCESS PIPING; PAMELA GRAVES, individually and d/b/a AMERICAN PROCESS PIPING; and CHARLES SMITH, individually and d/b/a AMERICAN PROCESS PIPING, Defendants.

ORDER ON MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT

JOHN L. KANE, Senior District Judge.

Four former employees of American Process Piping, Inc. ("APP"), d/b/a American Process Piping, bring this action under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") against APP and two individuals, Pamela Graves and Charles Smith, each individually and d/b/a American Process Piping. On March 4, 2015, the Court held an evidentiary hearing on Plaintiffs' Motion for Default Judgment (Doc. 20). After careful consideration, and for reasons that follow, the Court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law and orders judgment entered for Plaintiffs.

The Court finds that venue is proper. The Court has jurisdiction under the FLSA and jurisdiction over the Defendants in this case because they have engaged in significant activity relevant to this case within the State of Colorado, and Plaintiffs have been adversely affected by the actions of Defendants, both here in Colorado and elsewhere.

On October 10, 2014, Plaintiffs served their Original Complaint, along with a copy of the Summonses issued herein, via personal service by an authorized process server on Defendants Pamela Graves, Charles Smith, and Charles Smith as agent for service of process for American Process Piping, Inc. Defendants have failed to file any responsive pleading within the time allowed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiffs have presented evidence which establishes a basis for Plaintiffs' claims relating to violation of the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. (the "FLSA") and liquidated damages.

Defendants have owned and operated a welding business engaged in interstate commerce which utilized goods that moved in interstate commerce. Defendants were at all relevant times engaged in commerce as defined in 29 U.S.C. § 203(r) and § 203(s). During the relevant time period the annual gross revenues of Defendant exceeded $500, 000.00 per annum.

Defendants were Plaintiffs' employer within the meaning of the FLSA, 29 U.S.C. § 203(d), for all relevant time periods. Smith and Graves co-own Defendant American Process Piping. While employed by Defendants, Plaintiffs worked in several states. Several Plaintiffs worked in Colorado for up to three (3) months in 2013.

Defendant Smith and Defendant Graves manage and control the operation of the business and dictate the employment policies of the business, including but not limited to the decision to classify Plaintiffs as independent contractors. Smith and Graves own, manage and control American Process Piping.

All Plaintiffs reported to Smith during the course of their employment. Smith was physically present on many job sites, directing the work, and making decisions about how work was done, who did the work, etc. Smith hired and fired Plaintiffs. Smith was, at all times relevant, Plaintiffs' employer as defined by the FLSA, 29 U.S.C. § 203(d). Smith had operational control of the corporate defendant's day-to-day functions.

Plaintiffs reported their hours to Graves during the course of their employment. Graves was in charge of record keeping and payroll for Defendant American Process Piping insofar as the records and pay related to Plaintiffs. Graves was, at all times relevant, Plaintiffs' employer as defined by the FLSA, 29 U.S.C. § 203(d). At all relevant times Graves had operational control of the corporate defendant's day-to-day functions.

Huffman worked as a welder for Defendants from December of 2012 until January of 2014. Huffman worked for Defendants in Colorado, New York, Alabama, Iowa, and California during the time relevant to this case. Perez worked as a welder for Defendants for six weeks beginning in July of 2013. Perez worked for Defendants in California during the time relevant to this case. Harding worked as a welder for Defendants for six (6) weeks beginning in May of 2013. Harding worked for Defendants in New York and Minnesota during the time relevant to this case. Bennett worked as a welder for Defendants from February of 2013 until January of 2014. Bennett worked for Defendants in Colorado, New York, Alabama, Iowa and California during the time relevant to this case. All four Plaintiffs typically worked five (5) to seven (7) days per week, averaging over forty (40) hours per week that they each worked, almost always working overtime each work week.

Huffman worked for Defendants over a year, Bennett worked for Defendants just under a year, and Perez and Harding worked for Defendants for six weeks. The varied times Plaintiffs worked for Defendants range from approximately a month and half to over a year. This variability is characteristic of the industry and does not indicate that Plaintiffs were anything other than employees.

Huffman was initially paid (and/or to be paid) $30.00 an hour. In August of 2013, his pay increased to $35.00 an hour when Defendants made him a welder/supervisor. Perez was told by Defendants that his hourly rate was $30.00. Harding was paid (and/or to be paid) $55.00 an hour. Bennett was paid (and/or to be paid) $30.00 an hour.

All four Plaintiffs were never paid overtime premiums. Huffman received no pay for the last two weeks worked for Defendants as well as no pay for his travel time to and from the last job. Perez received no pay for the last three weeks worked for Defendants. Harding received no pay for the last few weeks worked for Defendants in Minnesota, as well as no pay for his travel time to and from the last job. Bennett also received no pay for the last two weeks worked for Defendants, as well as no pay for his travel time to and from the last job.

The facts in this case show that Plaintiffs were employees of Defendants, not independent contractors. American Process Piping, together with the individual employer-defendants, provided the tools to Plaintiffs for their work, directed the specifics of the work, and was heavily invested in the welding jobs. Defendants informed Plaintiffs when and where they were to provide their labor, and the highest amount of profit that Plaintiffs could receive from the work was their wages. Plaintiffs had no negotiation with their pay as they did not bid jobs. They were told when to come to work and when to leave work. If they were late, they would be in trouble with Defendants. Further, they did not have ...


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