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Deherrera v. Decker Truck Line, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Colorado

June 10, 2015

JOE DEHERRERA, (aka Joe

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

RAYMOND P. MOORE, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This action is brought by plaintiffs Joe (J.R.) Deherrera, Joe Griego, Jennifer Johnson, Scott Johnson and Tom Lark (plaintiffs) against defendant Decker Truck Lines, Inc., (defendant), on behalf of themselves individually and all those similarly situated. (ECF No.1). Plaintiffs allege that defendant violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, 29 U.S.C. §201, et seq, (FLSA); the Colorado Wage Act, C.R.S. §§8-4-101, et seq; and Colorado Minimum wage Order Nos. 27-29, 7 C.C.R. § 1103-1. Id.

Plaintiffs contend that they are (or were) non-exempt employees of defendant who have not been paid "at time-and-a-half their straight time wages for all work performed over 40 hours per work week;" have not been paid "for the 15 minutes of daily off-the-clock work" required by defendant and have not been provided the requisite "10 minutes of duty-free time during each four hours of their work." (ECF No.1, pp.4, 8).

Defendant moves for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, arguing that plaintiffs are (or were) employed by defendant to drive commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce. (ECF No.49, p.2). Defendant contends plaintiffs are thus "within the scope of the FLSA's motor carrier exemption" and therefore "not entitled to any premium wage payments for any overtime work"; are not entitled to gap-time. Id. Finally, defendant asserts it "is not covered by Colorado's Minimum Wage Order" promulgated under the authority of the Colorado Wage Act, C.R.S. §§8-4-101, et seq. Id.

II FACTUAL BACKGROUND

A. Undisputed Facts

The following undisputed facts are gleaned from the court's review of the record.

Defendant is a for-hire motor carrier regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), with its principal office in Fort Dodge, Iowa. (ECF No.60-1, p.2). At all times relevant to this action, plaintiffs are commercial truck drivers with commercial driver's licenses. (ECF No.49, p.5).

Defendant has a transportation contract with the New Belgium Brewing Co., (New Belgium). (ECF No. 60-1, pp.2-3). New Belgium is located in Fort Collins, Colorado. Id. As part of that contract, defendant employs (or did employ), plaintiffs as commercial truck drivers to shuttle the beer produced by New Belgium approximately five miles via public roads, from the New Belgium brewery to a refrigerated warehouse located near the Horsetooth Reservoir (commonly known as the Rez). (ECF No. 60-1, pp.2, 17).

Plaintiffs also shuttle brewery items such as empty kegs, pallets, hops and packaging materials brought to the Rez from inter alia, various out-of-state locations, back to the brewery. (ECF No.60-1, pp.4, 22-23). Under defendant's contract with New Belgium (and USDOT regulations), plaintiffs are required to conduct pre-trip safety inspections, which involve inspecting the outside of the vehicle and checking other items listed on a pre-trip inspection checklist. Id.

About 99% of New Belgium's product is shipped to the Rez for storage. (ECF No. 60-1, p.8). This means that each day approximately 50, 000 cases of beer are shuttled from the brewery to the Rez to await shipping to various interstate and intrastate locations. (ECF No.60-1, p.5). In addition to those cases, kegs of beer are also shipped from the Rez to various interstate and intrastate locations. Id. Kegs comprise approximately 40% of New Belgium's total sales. Id.

The Rez's management system tracks and documents all brewery products coming in and going out of the Rez via "license plates" on pallets. (ECF No.60-1, pp.5-7). The license plates have an individualized bar code that identifies the product on the pallet and allows the warehouse management to determine where the product should be and is, located. Id. Approximately every two weeks, the total storage capacity of the Rez is turned over, i.e., shipped out and replenished. Id. In some instances the delivered beer is off-loaded from the shuttle truck, scanned into the Rez inventory and immediately loaded onto an outbound truck for delivery to interstate or intrastate destinations. Id.

New Belgium's customers are primarily distributors who arrange to ship their purchased beer from the Rez. (ECF No. 60-1, pp.6-7, 22). The beer shipped for storage at the Rez has not been assigned to a particular customer. (ECF No.60-1, p.21). New Belgium forecasts customer demand by first calculating the maximum amount of beer it could produce in the coming year, predicting the amount and types of beer that will be sold in various sales territories and then confirming whether and how it can arrange production to meet those forecasted sales. (ECF No. 60-1, ...


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