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Murphy v. Allstaff Homecare, LLC

United States District Court, D. Colorado

September 24, 2019

LISA MURPHY, individually and on behalf of all similarly situated individuals and on behalf of the Proposed Rule 23 Class, Plaintiff,
v.
ALLSTAFF HOMECARE, LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS’ PARTIAL MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DENYING DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          William J. Martínez, United States District Judge.

         Before the Court are the parties’ cross motions for summary judgment. Both motions, in essence, seek the Court’s determination of whether, as a matter of law, Plaintiff Lisa Murphy or opt-in Plaintiff Gloria Pacheco (together, “Plaintiffs”) were covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq., while employed by Defendant AllStaff Homecare, LLC (“Defendant”). Plaintiffs move for partial summary judgment in their favor asking the Court to declare, as a matter of law, that Defendant violated the FLSA and an analogous Colorado state law, leaving only the issues of willfulness and damages for trial. (ECF No. 64 (“Plaintiffs’ Motion”).) Defendant seeks summary judgment in its favor on the grounds that Plaintiffs have not and cannot put forth any evidence that either party engaged in interstate commerce, and therefore Plaintiffs are not covered by the FLSA. (ECF No. 63 (“Defendant’s Motion”).) Defendant also asks the Court to decline supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs’ state law claims. (ECF No. 66.)

         For the reasons explained below, the Court grants Plaintiffs’ Motion and denies Defendant’s Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The following summary is drawn from the parties’ statements of material facts. The vast majority of the facts are undisputed.

         Plaintiffs are former home health aides (“HHAs”) employed by Defendant to provide in-home care for Defendant’s clients. (ECF No. 64 at 7, ¶ 3; ECF No. 66 at 2, ¶ 3.) Defendant is a Colorado corporation headquartered in Denver, and employs HHAs to provide in-home direct care and household services. (ECF No. 64 at 8, ¶ 6; ECF No. 66 at 2, ¶ 6.) Defendant has at least two employees and annual dollar volume of sales or business of at least $500, 000. (ECF No. 64 at 8, ¶¶ 7–8; ECF No. 66 at 2, ¶¶ 7–8.)

         Murphy worked for Defendant as a HHA from August 26, 2015 to June 19, 2016, and Pacheco worked for Defendant both as a Certified Nursing Assistant (“CNA”) and an HHA from October 16, 2014 to October 21, 2016. (ECF No. 64 at 8 ¶¶ 4–5; id. at 7 ¶ 3 n.2; ECF No. 66 at 2, ¶¶ 4–5.) Defendant required HHAs to pass a competency examination that tested knowledge of, among other things, observing and documenting clients’ status, reading vital signs, infection control procedures, maintaining a clean, healthy, and safe environment, and using appropriate and safe personal hygiene and grooming techniques for clients. (ECF No. 64 at 9, ¶ 12; ECF No. 3, ¶ 12.) Murphy’s job duties included:

bathing, grooming, and dressing the client; toileting the client; other personal hygiene maintenance for the client; conducting mobility exercises with the client; transferring the client from bed to wheelchair to chair or couch; preparing and serving meals to the client; transportation of the client to medical appointments and . . . non-medical appointments and attending those appointments with the client; running errands for the client outside of the client’s home; shopping for groceries and other items for the client; traveling with the client on day and overnight trips; cleaning the client’s rooms, living space, bathroom, and kitchen; making beds for the client; washing, drying and folding clothes for the client[;] washing and drying dishes for the client; sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming floors for the client; dusting for the client; and taking out the trash for the client.

(ECF No. 64 at 9; ¶ 13; ECF No. 66 at 3, ¶ 13.) Pacheco’s duties were similar, except that she also provided oral care, cleaned dentures, and checked vitals, and was never assigned a client who needed transferring. (ECF No. 64 at 10; ¶ 14; ECF No. 66 at 3, ¶ 14.)

         Throughout their employment, Plaintiffs regularly worked more than 40 hours per week, and Defendant did not pay Plaintiffs an overtime premium of one-and-a-half times their regular pay for time worked in excess of 40 hours. (ECF No. 64 at 10; ¶¶ 16–17; ECF No. 66 at 3, ¶¶ 16–17.) Defendant deducted expenses for advertising, automobile and truck expenses, postage, telephone, and travel. (ECF No. 64 at 8, ¶ 9; ECF No. 66 at 2, ¶ 9.)

         Defendant admits all of the above facts. Indeed, other than the dispute about interstate commerce (see ECF No. 63 at 2–3, ¶ 1.a.–g; ECF No. 65 at 2–7, ¶ 1.a–g), the only dispute of fact concerns Defendant’s provision of services to veterans. Plaintiffs contend that Defendant “provides service to veterans who came to Colorado from other states to receive service.” (ECF No. 64 at 8, ¶ 10.) Defendant clarifies that it takes referrals from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs office in Denver, which only refers local clients who have “come here from other States and receive service, ” and that Defendant only takes “referrals for the counties in Colorado [it] serve[s].” (ECF No. 66 at 2–3, ¶ 10.)

         Murphy filed the Complaint on September 20, 2016, and moved for conditional certification under the FLSA on December 15, 2016. (ECF Nos. 1 & 21.) The Court granted conditional certification, and Pacheco was the only person who filed a consent to join. (ECF Nos. 52 & 57.) Defendant filed an Early Motion for Summary Judgment, arguing that the Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the FLSA claims and should decline to exercise supplement jurisdiction over the state law claims. (ECF No. 36.) The Court denied that motion without prejudice finding that the FLSA’s interstate commerce requirements are non-jurisdictional rather than an element of an FLSA claim. (ECF No. 46 at 7.) After the close of discovery, the parties filed their summary judgment motions.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is warranted under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248–50 (1986). Whether there is a genuine dispute as to a material fact depends upon whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to the factfinder or, conversely, is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251–52; Stone v. Autoliv ASP, Inc., 210 F.3d 1132 (10th Cir. 2000). A fact is “material” if, under the relevant substantive law, it is essential to proper disposition of the claim. Wright v. Abbott Labs., Inc., 259 F.3d 1226, 1231–32 (10th Cir. 2001). An issue is “genuine” if the evidence is such that it might lead a reasonable trier of fact to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Allen v. Muskogee, 119 F.3d 837, 839 (10th Cir. 1997).

         In analyzing a motion for summary judgment, a court must view the evidence and all reasonable inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Adler v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 144 F.3d 664, 670 (10th Cir. 1998) (citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)). In addition, the Court must resolve factual ambiguities against the moving party, thus favoring the right to a trial. See Houston v. Nat’l Gen. Ins. Co., 817 F.2d 83, 85 (10th Cir. 1987).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Plaintiffs’ Partial Motion for Summary Judgment

         1. FL ...


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