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GHPE Holdings, LLC v. Huxley

Court of Appeals of Indiana

January 23, 2017

GHPE Holdings, LLC, d/b/a Godby Heating Plumbing Electrical, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
Jason Huxley, Appellee-Plaintiff.

         Appeal from the Marion Superior Court The Honorable Michael Keele, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 49D07-1406-PL-18961

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Abraham Murphy Abraham Murphy Attorney at Law, LLC Indianapolis, Indiana

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE Roger P. Ralph Indianapolis, Indiana

          Barnes, Judge.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] GHPE Holdings, LLC, d/b/a Godby Heating Plumbing Electrical ("Godby") appeals the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of its former employee, Jason Huxley, in a suit brought under the Wage Payment Act ("WPA"). Godby also appeals the trial court's judgment amount against Huxley in a counterclaim brought by Godby. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.

         Issues

         [¶2] The restated issues before us are:

I. whether the trial court properly calculated the amount of unpaid wages to which Huxley was entitled under the Wage Payment Act ("the WPA");
II. whether the trial court correctly calculated the base amount of damages to which Godby was entitled in its counterclaim against Huxley;
III. whether the trial court erred in not awarding treble damages and attorney fees to Godby in its counterclaim against Huxley; and
IV. whether Huxley is entitled to collect appellate attorney fees.

         Facts

         [¶3] Huxley worked for Godby between March 5, 2012, and June 14, 2013. After voluntarily leaving Godby's employment, Huxley claimed Godby owed him $1, 102.97 for hours worked plus accrued vacation time. Godby failed to pay that or any amount to Huxley. The last earnings statement that Godby provided to Huxley reflected gross wages of $1, 102.97, with a deduction of $986.71 for vacation time Godby claimed Huxley had used but not accrued before leaving employment, leaving wages of $116.26. From this amount, Godby made deductions of $10.88 for state, county, Medicare, and Social Security taxes; it also reflected "voluntary" deductions for something listed as a "truck" charge in the amount of $20.00 and "UNIF" charges in the total amount of $85.38. These deductions reduced Huxley's net pay to $0.00.

         [¶4] Several months before Huxley left Godby, he was involved in an accident while driving a company truck. The accident resulted in damage to the truck that had to be repaired.[1] The Godby employee manual provided that if an employee is determined to be at fault for an accident while on the job, he or she is responsible for paying the $1, 000 deductible for Godby's insurance policy. Godby also purchased tools that Huxley used on the job and which Huxley did not return to Godby after leaving his employment. Huxley also did not return some uniforms and a phone charger to Godby.

         [¶5] On June 5, 2014, Huxley filed an action under the WPA seeking recovery of the full $1, 102.97 that he claimed Godby owed him, plus liquidated damages equaling twice that amount and attorney fees. Godby filed an answer denying that it owed any wages to Huxley. Additionally, it filed a counterclaim alleging that Huxley owed it $2, 390.42 for the $1, 000 insurance deductible, the tools, the uniforms, and the phone charger. Godby further claimed that Huxley's actions in retaining ...


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