United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Evansville Division
MARCUS E. CRAWFORD, individually and on behalf of similarly situated individuals, Plaintiffs,
PROFESSIONAL TRANSPORTATION, INC. and RONALD D. ROMAIN, individually and as president and secretary of PROFESSIONAL TRANSPORTATION, INC., Defendants.
ENTRY ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DECERTIFY AND
DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO STRIKE
RICHARD L. YOUNG, JUDGE
Class Representative Marcus Crawford, the Plaintiff herein, seeks
to recover “overtime compensation and minimum wages for
work activity performed by over the road [OTR] drivers”
employed by Defendant, Professional Transportation, Inc.
(“PTI”). His Complaint seeks damages based upon
seven different theories for alleged underpayment of minimum
wages and overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29
U.S.C. § 216(b). His Complaint also alleges that as an
OTR driver, he was misclassified as exempt under the FLSA and
not treated as eligible for overtime at all. Finally, his
Complaint alleges that he was not properly paid mileage for
all miles driven.
April 10, 2014, the court conditionally certified this matter
as a collective action pursuant to the parties'
stipulation. The conditional class is defined as all current
and former employees of Professional Transportation, Inc. who
worked as OTR drivers at any time from February 11, 2011 to
present with outstanding claims for wages. (Filing No. 33,
18, 2016, Defendants, PTI and PTI President Ronald D. Romain,
filed the present Motion to Decertify Collective Action. On
November 11, 2016, Defendants moved to strike certain
evidence submitted by Plaintiff in his Response. In addition,
the parties orally argued their positions on March 16, 2017.
The court, having considered the parties' oral argument
and reviewed their submissions, the designated evidence, and
the applicable law, now finds Defendants' Motion to
Decertify should be GRANTED and Defendants' Motion to
Strike should be GRANTED in part and DENIED as MOOT in part.
Background Regarding PTI
provides OTR and dedicated yard van crew transportation
services to customers in the railroad industry across the
United States, including CSX Transportation, Kansas City
Southern, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific, Amtrak, and more
recently, BNSF Railway, Canadian Pacific Railroad, Utah
Railway, and Portland and Western Railroad. (Filing No.
283-3, Declaration of Taraha Baum (“Baum Decl.”)
drivers work out of more than 300 branch offices located in
forty different states. (Id. ¶ 11). Branch
offices vary in size, from having as few as one driver to as
many as 174 drivers. (Id. ¶ 13). Management of
PTI's branch offices varies too. For example, 47 branches
currently have a dedicated Branch Manager responsible for
managing an entire branch. (Id. ¶ 19).
Fifty-six branches currently share a Branch Manager, and 30
branches currently have an Assistant Branch Manager.
July 1, 2011, PTI classified its OTR drivers as exempt from
the FLSA's overtime pay requirements pursuant to the
Motor Carrier Exemption. (Id. ¶ 28). Since July
1, 2011, PTI has treated OTR drivers as non-exempt.
(Id. ¶ 29).
PTI's Van Inspection Policy Before May 1, 2013
May 1, 2013, PTI's Driver's Manual directed drivers
to inspect their assigned vehicle before each OTR trip.
(Filing No. 283-4, Declaration of Steven Greulich
(“Greulich Decl.”) ¶¶ 8-9). Before June
2012, OTR drivers recorded trips, mileage, wait time,
working time on handwritten trip vouchers. (Baum Decl. ¶
31). Included on the voucher was a “Pre-Trip
Checklist” of nine vehicle inspection items and a
column for drivers to record their “Start Time, ”
“Stop Time, ” and “Total Time”
associated with the inspection. (Id., Ex. D). The
pre-May 2013 Driver's Manual contained a list of
instructions to be used by drivers to complete written trip
vouchers- including a directive that the “Pre-Trip
Checklist” was to be provided by the driver. (Greulich
Decl. ¶¶ 8-9, Ex. B at 29-30, Ex. C at 31-32).
According to PTI, if conducted and inspected correctly, the
inspection should take a driver no more than two minutes.
(Baum Decl. ¶ 31).
drivers reported the information included on the trip voucher
by telephone to PTI's dispatchers. (Id. ¶
34). Dispatchers recorded drivers' trip information into
a centralized database for the purpose of processing driver
pay. (Id.). Drivers were not required to report to
dispatch the “Start Time, ” “Stop Time,
” and “Total Time” for their inspections.
addition, before June 2012, drivers were also asked to
complete a daily Van Inspection Checklist. (Id.
¶ 36, Ex. F). The Checklist asked drivers to review ten
categories of inspection items and indicate whether those
items passed or failed. (Id.). The Checklist also
included the date of the inspection, branch, vehicle number,
driver's name, and the starting and ending miles of the
vehicle. (Id.). The Checklist did not ask drivers to
record the stop, start, or total time associated with the
inspection. (Id.). If conducted and performed
correctly, the inspection and Checklist should be completed
in less than five minutes. (Id. ¶ 37). PTI
drivers were required to turn in this Checklist to PTI's
Fleet Manager or Assistant Manager. (See,
e.g., Filing No. 296-31, Deposition of Marcus
Crawford (“Crawford Dep.”) at 60). Consequently,
prior to May 2013, PTI did not track OTR driver time spent in
pre-trip safety inspections. (Filing No. 296-30, Deposition
of Tahara Baum (“Baum Dep.”) at 91-92).
2012, PTI began rolling out the Crew Mobile system, a touch
screen computer system installed in each vehicle that allowed
OTR drivers to report mileage, wait time, and working time to
PTI in real time. (Baum Decl. ¶ 39). Crew Mobile allows
drivers to record vehicle inspections instead of using
written vouchers or the Inspection Checklist. (Id.).
Phased-in installation of the Crew Mobile system at each
branch occurred between March and December 2012.
(Id. ¶ 40).
testified that the Crew Mobile system rarely worked for
purposes of reporting a vehicle inspection because the screen
frequently locked after a trip was accepted into the system.
(Crawford Dep. at 136-39). Therefore, inspections were
typically reported manually. (Id. at 139). Taraha
Baum, Senior Director of Operations Accounting, testified
that if a trip was closed manually (i.e., not on Crew
Mobile), inspections times were not reported to the
dispatcher. (Baum Dep. at 77) (“Q: Are inspection times
recorded on the - are they reported to the dispatchers? A:
PTI's Van Inspection Policy After May 1, 2013
March 2013, the Work Rules Management Team recommended that
PTI revise the Driver's Manual to require vehicle
inspections to be completed at the end of each OTR
trip, when the driver was refueling the vehicle (the
“End-of-Trip Inspection Policy”). (Baum Decl.
¶ 42). The purpose of the revision was twofold: (1) to
ensure that vehicle inspections were actually completed; and
(2) to ensure that any time drivers spent performing the
inspections would be recorded in the event inspection time
was not deemed to be de minimis (i.e., 10 minutes or
less) under federal wage and hour law. (Id.).
following month, PTI created the Pay Practices Team to revise
the Driver's Manual to reflect the new policy.
(Id. ¶ 43). The Pay Practices Team published
three documents: (1) “Notice to Drivers”; (2)
“Revisions to Published Policies”; and (3) a
revised Driver's Manual, all of which explained the
End-of-Trip Inspection Policy and related procedures.
(Id. ¶¶ 43-44, Exs. H, I, and J at 10,
33). The Pay Practices Team distributed these documents to
PTI's General Managers, who held conference calls with
their Branch Managers to explain the work rule changes at the
end of April 2013. (Id. ¶ 45). In May 2013, the
Pay Practices Team distributed these documents to branch
management. (Id. ¶ 46). And in August and
September 2013, the Pay Practices Team distributed paper
copies of the revised Driver's Manual, which included the
End-of-Trip Inspection Policy-to every OTR driver.
(Id. ¶ 47). Each driver was expected to sign
forms acknowledging their receipt of the same.
addition, Tammi Hinkley, PTI's corporate trainer,
conducted management training from October 2012 to May 1,
2013. (Filing No. 283-7, Declaration of Tammi Hinkley ¶
13). During her training, she discovered that many branch
managers were not properly training their OTR drivers to
complete vehicle inspections pursuant to the Branch Manager
Training Manual. (Id.). She therefore developed the
Branch Manager Training Program to train newly hired general
managers and branch managers. (Id. ¶¶
this training, the evidence reflects that not all branches
were following this policy. (See, e.g.,
Filing No. 283-3, Email dated October 13, 2015). Therefore,
in 2015, PTI conducted a series of meetings between
departmental leadership in Evansville and regional and branch
management in the field. (Baum Decl. ¶ 57). During a
meeting on October 13, 2015, a branch manager from the
Philadelphia branch indicated that his drivers were
completing two inspections, one at the beginning of the trip
and one at the end of the trip. (Id. ¶ 58). The
following week, at the request of PTI President Romain, Baum
conducted a teleconference with all branch managers present
at the October 13 meeting to review PTI's End-of-Trip
Inspection Policy. (Id. ¶ 59).
The Present Action
lawsuit was filed on February 11, 2014. (Filing No. 1,
Complaint). Plaintiff's counsel was provided with the
names of 19, 996 potential Opt-In Plaintiffs. The Legal
Notice, filed in conjunction with the ...