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Haverkamp v. Star of America, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, New Albany Division

June 16, 2017

TRENT HAVERKAMP, and TRAVIS BLAIR, individually and on behalf of those similarly situated, Plaintiffs,



         Plaintiffs, Trent Haverkamp and Travis Blair, two drivers employed by Defendant, Star of America, LLC, bring this putative collective action, claiming they were deprived of overtime pay owed under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). Star maintains it has no obligation to provide Plaintiffs with overtime pay because they are exempt from that requirement under the Motor Carrier Act exemption to the FLSA, 29 U.S.C. § 213(b)(1). Star now moves for summary judgment. For the reasons herein set forth, the court DENIES Star's motion.

         I. Background

         Star is a federally authorized for-hire provider of passenger transportation. (Filing No. 40-1, Declaration of Larry D. Shickles (“Shickles Decl.”) ¶ 2). At all times relevant to this lawsuit, it has maintained its assigned DOT number and observed the DOT's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (“FMCSRs”) with respect to all drivers and other applicable employees. (Id. ¶ 3). Furthermore, the DOT has conducted regular compliance audits of driver files kept by Star. (Id. ¶ 4). Star provides two types of services: (1) charter services, which cross state lines, from which it derives the majority of its revenue; and (2) shuttle services, which do not cross Indiana's borders. (Id. ¶ 5). This case concerns Star's shuttle services.

         Pursuant to the parties “Scheduled Route Agreement, ” Star has a nonexclusive right to provide transportation services to its passengers to and from the Airport. (Id. ¶ 19, Ex. D). Its routes, which are traveled seven days a week on a set schedule, are between West Lafayette, Indiana and the Indianapolis International Airport (“Airport”), and Bloomington, Indiana and the Airport. (Id. ¶ 6). For example, on its early morning “Depart Lafayette/Purdue to Indianapolis Airport” schedule, Star's shuttle leaves Folletts Purdue West, Tarkington Hall, Memorial Union, and the Courtyard by Marriott at 4:20, 4:25, and 4:55 a.m., respectively, and arrives at the airport at 6:10 a.m. (Id. ¶ 7, Ex. A). At the airport, the shuttle drops passengers at the Airport's Ground Transportation Center. (Id. ¶ 9). The drivers also pick up passengers from the Airport's Ground Transportation Center and depart to either Bloomington or Lafayette. (Id.). On the shuttle's early morning run from the Airport back to Lafayette/Purdue, it departs the Airport at 6:20 a.m. and drops passengers at the Courtyard by Marriott, Memorial Union, Tarkington Hall, and Folletts Purdue West at 7:35, 8:00, 8:05, and 8:10 a.m., respectively. (Id. ¶ 7, Ex. A). Throughout the day, the shuttle runs between these 4 Lafayette/Purdue locations and the Airport continuously until its last Lafayette/Purdue drop-off at 12:10 a.m. It makes no other stops. (Id.). Both Havercamp and Blair drove the shuttle from points in Lafayette to the Airport. (Filing No. 45-1, Declaration of Trent Havercamp (“Havercamp Decl”) ¶ 1; Filing No. 45-2, Declaration of Travis Blair (“Blair Decl.”) ¶ 1).

         The shuttle has similar routes in Bloomington. (Shickles Decl. ¶ 8, Ex. B). Both the Lafayette/Purdue routes and the Bloomington/Indiana University routes run from approximately 4:00 a.m. to 12 a.m. (Id. ¶¶ 7-8, Exs. A, B). Both Purdue University and Indiana University advertise the Shuttle Services as an option for transport to and from the Airport. (Id. ¶ 11).

         Between 2013 and 2016, a total of 6, 373 people who purchased the Shuttle Services had billing addresses from countries other than the United States. (Id. ¶ 13). The majority of passengers purchase their tickets online through Star's website in advance of their travel. (Id. ¶ 14). They may also purchase tickets from the shuttle driver. (Id. ¶ 16).

         All commercial flights to or from the Airport during the claim period beginning January 6, 2013, crossed state lines. (Filing No. 40-2, Declaration of E. Ashley Paynter ¶¶ 2-6).

         Any additional facts necessary for the disposition of this motion will be addressed in the Discussion Section.

         II. Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate where “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). The court's function is not to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter, but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986); Payne v. Pauley, 337 F.3d 767, 770 (7th Cir. 2003). Disputes concerning material facts are genuine where the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. In deciding whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the court construes all facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Heft v. Moore, 351 F.3d 278, 283 (7th Cir. 2003).

         III. Discussion

         The FLSA requires an employer to compensate its employees at a rate of not less than one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for those hours worked in excess of forty hours. 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1). The FLSA exempts from the overtime pay requirement “any employee with respect to whom the Secretary of Transportation has power to establish qualifications and maximum hours of service pursuant to the provisions of Section 31502 of Title 49.” 29 U.S.C. § 213(b)(1). This is known as the Motor Carrier Act (“MCA”) exemption. Whether the MCA exemption applies “‘is dependent on whether the Secretary has the power to regulate, not on whether the Secretary has actually exercised such power.'” Abel v. Southern Shuttle Servs., Inc., 631 F.3d 1210, 1213 (11th Cir. 2011) (quoting Baez v. Wells Fargo Armored Serv. Corp., 938 F.2d 180, 181 n. 2 (11th Cir. 1991)). In other words, “‘for the MCA exemption to apply, the Secretary of Transportation's power to regulate under the act merely needs to cover a particular group of employees.'” Id. (quoting Walters v. Am. Coach Lines of Miami, Inc., 575 F.3d 1221, 1226 (11th Cir. 2009)). The court “construe[s] FLSA exemptions narrowly against the employer, ” and the employer bears the burden of proving the applicability of the provision. Id. at 1212.

         The Department of Labor has codified a two-part test to determine if an employee is subject to the MCA exemption, based on its interpretation of the relevant statutes and case law. An employee is exempt if: (1) he is employed by a motor carrier whose transportation of passengers by motor vehicle is subject to the Secretary of Transportation's jurisdiction under 49 U.S.C. § 31502; and (2) he is engaged in activities affecting the safety of operation of motor vehicles ...

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