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Crawford v. Professional Transportation, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Evansville Division

August 17, 2017

MARCUS E. CRAWFORD, individually and on behalf of similarly situated individuals, Plaintiffs,
v.
PROFESSIONAL TRANSPORTATION, INC. and RONALD D. ROMAIN, individually and as president and secretary of PROFESSIONAL TRANSPORTATION, INC., Defendants.

          ENTRY ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO RECONSIDER AND PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR 2ND STAGE COLLECTIVE CLASS CERTIFICATION

          RICHARD L. YOUNG, JUDGE

         Marcus Crawford, [1] the Plaintiff herein, filed a Complaint for “overtime compensation and minimum wages for work activity performed by over the road [OTR] drivers” employed by Defendant, Professional Transportation, Inc. (“PTI”) pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 216(b).

         On 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 PTI who worked as OTR drivers at any time from February 11, 2011 to present with outstanding claims for wages. (Filing No. 33, Order).

         On July 18, 2016, Defendants filed the present Motion to Decertify Collective Action. On March 22, 2017, having considered the parties' oral argument and reviewed their submissions, the designated evidence, and the applicable law, the court issued an entry granting Defendants' Motion to Decertify Collective Action. Briefly, the court found, inter alia, that the class definition was fatally overbroad, and that the Plaintiff's and the Opt-In Plaintiffs' claims based on Defendants' Pre-Trip Inspection Policy[2]covering two time periods-the period before the introduction of the End-of-Trip Inspection Policy (February 11, 2011 to April 30, 2013) and after (May 1, 2013 to present)-raised inherently individualized issues not appropriate for class treatment. Plaintiff now moves the court (1) to reconsider its decision and (2) for an order that this case may be maintained as a collective action under the FLSA. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration is DENIED and his Motion for 2nd Stage Collective Class Certification is also DENIED.

         I. Motion for Reconsideration

         A. Standard of Review

          “Motions for reconsideration serve a limited function: to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence.” Caisse Nationale de Credit Agricole v. CBI Indus., Inc., 90 F.3d 1264, 1269 (7th Cir. 1996) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). A motion to reconsider is appropriate when “‘the Court has patently misunderstood a party, or has made a decision outside of the adversarial issues presented to the Court by the parties, or has made an error not of reasoning but of apprehension.'” Bank of Waunakee v. Rochester Cheese Sales, Inc., 906 F.2d 1185, 1191 (7th Cir. 1990) (quoting Above the Belt, Inc. v. Mel Bohannan Roofing, Inc., 99 F.R.D. 99, 101 (E.D. Va. 1983)). Whether to grant a motion to reconsider is committed to the sound discretion of the district court. Caisse Nationale, 90 F.3d at 1270.

         B. Discussion

         1. Minimum Wage and Overtime Claims

         Plaintiff first argues that, by decertifying the entire class, the court decided issues outside of the adversarial process. Specifically, he asserts the “Defendants made the strategic decision not to pursue or brief the issues of minimum wages and overtime compensation” in their motion to decertify, even though those issues were a part of the case. (Id. at 14).[3] Plaintiff therefore asks the court, upon reconsideration, to certify for trial a collective action of “3, 447 opt-in plaintiffs who were not paid minimum wage and/or overtime compensation for all hours worked in weeks in which they drove in OTR service” and “a sub-class of OTR drivers who performed pre-trial inspections under defendants' admitted company policy prior to May 2013.” (Filing No. 345, Brief in Support at 1).

         Plaintiff's argument is contrary to the parties' briefing, the record in this case, and the court's March 22 decision. Defendants' brief in support of their motion to decertify explained the seven different theories supporting Plaintiff's claims for minimum wages and overtime compensation and summarized all of those claims. Defendants argued that Plaintiff had abandoned the majority of those claims. In his Response, Plaintiff denied that he had abandoned most of his theories of liability and again represented that he was, indeed, seeking minimum wage and overtime claims-the same claims asserted in Matthews v. PTI, No. 3:11-cv-97-RLY-WGH-and a pre-trip inspection claim. (Filing No. 296, Response at 46). Plaintiff, however, did not otherwise identify the claims for minimum wage and overtime compensation that he believed he and the Opt-Ins possessed other than under a pre-trip vehicle inspection theory, or offer any evidence to support such claims. By offering no evidence and no argument, he failed to carry his burden of showing that he and the Opt-Ins were similarly situated with respect to any other alleged minimum wage and overtime compensation claims. See, e.g., Strait v. Belcan Eng'g Grp., Inc., 911 F.Supp.2d 709, 718 (N.D. Ill. 2012) (“Plaintiffs bear the burden of demonstrating that they are ‘similarly situated.'”).

         In addition, the court also provided Plaintiff with the opportunity to explain what other claims for minimum wages and overtime he believed he and the Opt-Ins were pursuing in this litigation in addition to any pre-trip inspection claims. Although he contended vaguely during oral argument that he and the Opt-Ins did have such claims, he did not explain the basis of the claims or provide evidence to substantiate them. The court therefore finds that it did not misapprehend the parties' arguments or decide any issues outside of the adversarial process.

         2. Remaining Issues

         Next, Plaintiff argues the court erred by not conditionally certifying a “subclass of OTR drivers who performed pre-trip inspections under defendants' admitted company policy prior to May 2013.” In its March 22 decision, the court found the Opt-Ins pre-trip inspection claims raised inherently individualized issues which doom Plaintiff's quest for class certification. (Filing No. 339, Entry on Defendants' ...


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