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Fisher v. Pathway Leasing LLC

United States District Court, D. Colorado

December 11, 2017

JESSE FISHER, and LONNIE FAILS, Plaintiffs,
v.
PATHWAY LEASING LLC, a Colorado limited liability company, MATTHEW HARRIS, INTERSTATE DISTRIBUTOR CO., a Washington corporation registered to conduct business in Colorado, BOOKER TRANSPORTATION SERVICES, INC., a Texas corporation, and CARGILL MEAT LOGISTICS SOLUTIONS, INC., a Kansas corporation registered to conduct business in Colorado, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO SEVER

          CHRISTINE M. ARGUELLO United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on three motions:

         1. Defendant Interstate Distributor Co.'s (“Interstate”) Motion to Sever Defendant Interstate (Doc. # 39);

         2. Defendant Cargill Meat Logistics Solutions, Inc.'s (“CMLS”) Motion to Sever Defendant CMLS (Doc. # 54); and

         3. Defendant Booker Transportation Services, Inc.'s (“Booker”) Motion to Sever Defendant Booker (Doc. # 63).

         These motions to sever filed by Defendant Interstate, Defendant CMLS, and Defendant Booker (collectively, the “Carrier Defendants”) are substantively identical to one another. Plaintiffs Jessie Fisher and Lonnie Fails oppose each motion to sever. See (Doc. ## 49, 60, 68). For the following reasons, the Court grants all three motions to sever.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Each of the Carrier Defendants-Interstate, CMLS, and Booker-is a transportation company that moves clients' goods throughout the country. E.g., (Doc. # 39 at 2). The Carrier Defendants are separate entities and are competitors of one another. (Id.)

         Defendants Pathway Leasing LLC and Matthew Harris (together, the “Pathway Defendants”) lease trucks to commercial truck drivers. (Doc. # 50 at 1.) Each of the Carrier Defendants allegedly contracted the Pathway Defendants to provide “owner-operator” truck drivers.[1] (Doc. # 1 at 2.)

         Plaintiffs were among the truck drivers who leased trucks from the Pathway Defendants and drove for one or more of the Carrier Defendants. (Id.) To date, five Plaintiffs have opted into this litigation: Jesse Fisher, Lonnie Fails, Brenton Lee, Lora Lee, and Anthony Dennis. See (Doc. ## 11, 19-22.) Plaintiffs drove trucks to deliver goods for the following Carrier Defendants at various points in time:

• Plaintiffs Fisher, B. Lee, and L. Lee transported goods for Interstate. (Doc. # 39 at 2.) The other plaintiffs did not.
• Plaintiff Fails transported goods for CMLS. (Doc. # 54 at 2.) The other plaintiffs did not.
• Plaintiffs Fisher, B. Lee, L. Lee, and Dennis transported goods for Booker. (Doc. # 63 at 4.) The other plaintiff did not.

         Pursuant to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's regulations, an owner-operator may not transport goods in his/her leased vehicle for multiple carriers at the same time. 49 C.F.R. § 376.12(c)(1).

         On June 1, 2017, Plaintiffs initiated this action against Defendants as a collective action[2] pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (the “FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-19. (Doc. # 1.) Against all Defendants, Plaintiffs assert claims for failure to pay minimum wage in violation of the FLSA[3] and for unlawful retaliation. (Id. at 15-19.) Only against the Pathway Defendants, Plaintiffs assert claims for “rescission or voiding of lease agreements, warranties and promissory notes, and restitution, ” for unjust enrichment and restitution, and for quantum meruit. (Id.) Plaintiffs seek monetary damages, “rescission or voiding of their lease agreements, warranty agreements, and promissory notes, ” and an injunction “prohibiting [Defendants] from engaging in unlawful retaliation.” (Id. at 19-20.) Defendants filed separate answers on July 17-19, 2017. (Doc. ## 36, 40, 41, 44). The Pathway Defendants also brought a counterclaim for “setoffs” against all Plaintiffs and a counterclaim for breach of contract against Plaintiffs Fisher and Fails. (Doc. # 44 at 31-33.)

         Each of the three Carrier Defendants filed its own Motion to Sever itself. Interstate filed its Motion to Sever Interstate on July 17, 2017. (Doc. # 39.) Plaintiffs responded to Interstate's motion on August 7, 2017 (Doc. # 49), and Interstate replied on August 21, 2017 (Doc. # 53.)

         CMLS filed its Motion to Sever CMLS on August 25, 2017. (Doc. # 54.) CMLS's motion is nearly identical to Interstate's motion. Plaintiffs briefly responded to CMLS's motion on September 5, 2017, by “incorporat[ing] their Response Interstate's Motion ...


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