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Weil v. Metal Technologies, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

June 13, 2018

BRIAN A. WEIL, MELISSA D. FULK, Plaintiffs,
v.
METAL TECHNOLOGIES, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge

         Presently pending before the Court are several motions that constitute the final chapter in this litigation saga. Following a bench trial in this case, Plaintiffs have filed a Motion for Service/Incentive Awards, [Filing No. 396], a Bill of Costs, [Filing No. 397], and a Motion for Attorneys' Fees, [Filing No. 398]. Defendant has also filed a Bill of Costs. [Filing No. 400.] For the reasons described below, the Court grants in part Plaintiffs' Motion for Service/Incentive Awards, grants in part Plaintiffs' Motion for Attorneys' Fees, and concludes that each party shall bear its own costs.

         I.

         Background

         Plaintiffs filed their initial Complaint in this matter in January 2015 as a putative class and collective action, [Filing No. 1], and filed their operative First Amended Complaint in October 2015, [Filing No. 66]. Plaintiffs raised the following claims against Metal Technologies in that Complaint: (1) class and individual claims for failure to pay minimum and overtime wages in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”); (2) class and individual claims for unlawful wage deductions in violation of the FLSA; (3) class and individual claims for unpaid wages and illegally deducted wages (with Ms. Fulk as the class representative) in violation of the Indiana Wage Payment Statute (“IWPS”); (4) class and individual claims for unpaid wages and illegally deducted wages (with Mr. Weil as the class representative) in violation of the Indiana Wage Claims Statute (“IWCA”); and (5) class claims for breach of contract for all individuals in the IWCA plaintiff class.

         As to the wage-deduction class claim, Plaintiffs argued that Metal Technologies took improper deductions from employees' paychecks for the cost of renting uniforms. [Filing No. 66 at 1-2.] And as to Mr. Weil, Plaintiffs alleged that Metal Technologies took improper wage deductions for uniform rental and an improper one-time wage deduction labeled as “OF.” Regarding the unpaid wages, Plaintiffs claimed that Metal Technologies improperly rounded employees' time-clock entries in order to eliminate time worked prior to and after scheduled shifts. [Filing No. 66 at 5-6.] Plaintiffs also claimed that Metal Technologies automatically deducted 30-minute meal breaks, even if employees took breaks shorter than 30 minutes or did not take a meal break at all. [Filing No. 66 at 6.]

         Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Certify a Class/Collective Action on September 1, 2015, [Filing No. 53], and that motion was granted in part and denied in part on January 25, 2016, [Filing No. 79]. The Court ruled as follows on that certification motion:

• The Court conditionally certified an FLSA collective action sub-class of present and former Metal Technologies employees who worked at any time from January 20, 2012 to the present and who were not timely paid regular wages or overtime compensation on one or more occasion for time worked. [Filing No. 79 at 11-13.]
• The Court denied collective action certification to an FLSA sub-class of plaintiffs who were not timely paid regular wages or overtime compensation on one or more occasions for time worked, because the employee took a lunch break of twenty minutes or less. [Filing No. 79 at 33.]
• The Court denied collective action certification to an FLSA sub-class of plaintiffs challenging wage deductions for uniforms as being kickbacks. [Filing No. 79 at 33.]
• The Court denied class certification to a sub-class of involuntarily terminated plaintiffs raising state-law breach-of-contract claims for unpaid wages under all theories. [Filing No. 79 at 33.]
• The Court denied class certification to an IWPS sub-class of plaintiffs who were not timely paid regular wages on one or more occasions for time worked, because the employee took a lunch break of 20 minutes or less. [Filing No. 79 at 33.]
• The Court certified an IWPS sub-class of plaintiffs who presently worked at Metal Technologies or who voluntarily terminated their employment, who worked at any time from January 20, 2013 to the present, and who were not timely paid regular wages on one or more occasions for time worked. [Filing No. 79 at 34.]
• The Court certified an IWPS sub-class of plaintiffs who presently worked at Metal Technologies or voluntarily terminated their employment, who worked at any time from January 20, 2013 to the present, and who were not timely paid regular wages on one or more occasions based upon wage deductions taken by Metal Technologies to cover costs for work uniforms. [Filing No. 79 at 34.]

         The parties then proceeded to provide notice to potential class and collective action members and conducted discovery. In their Statement of Claims, Plaintiffs identified the following claims as being at issue:

• FLSA claims as to the plaintiff class, Mr. Weil, and Ms. Fulk for unpaid overtime wages;
• Class claims and Ms. Fulk's individual claims under the IWPS for unpaid wages and illegal deductions;
• Ms. Fulk's individual claim under the IWPS for late payment of wages; and
• Mr. Weil's individual IWCA claims for unpaid wages and illegal deductions.[1][Filing No. 316.]

         On November 1, 2016, Plaintiffs moved for partial summary judgment, [Filing No. 321], seeking judgment as a matter of law on the following claims:

• Liability as to the class claim for uniform-rental wage deductions under the IWPS; and
• Liability as to the class claim for time-rounding under the FLSA and IWPS.[2]

[Filing No. 322.] Metal Technologies filed a Cross-Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, largely opposing Plaintiffs' Motion and seeking partial summary judgment on several claims and damages issues. [Filing No. 330.] In its briefing, Metal Technologies:

• conceded liability as to uniform deductions taken from the plaintiff class from January 20, 2013 through April 10, 2016;
• moved for summary judgment as to pre-shift time-rounding claims for several FLSA collective action members;
• sought a determination that Plaintiffs could not seek an overtime rate in damages under the IWPS; and
• sought a determination that Plaintiffs' wage-analysis calculations under the IWPS were inaccurate.

[Filing No. 331.] A few days after filing its Cross-Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, Metal Technologies also filed a Motion to Decertify the sub-classes related to Plaintiffs' time-rounding claims under the FLSA and IWPS. [Filing No. 332.]

         On May 26, 2017, the Court issued an Order addressing both the Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment and the Motion for Decertification. [Filing No. 363.] The Court resolved those motions as follows:

• The Court granted Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary judgment as to liability on the (conceded) uniform wage-deduction claim under the IWPS brought by the plaintiff class, but only as to the period from January 20, 2013 through April 10, 2016. The Court denied Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment as to the remainder of the uniform-deduction class claim.
• The Court denied Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment as to liability on Plaintiffs' time-rounding claims under the FLSA and IWPS.
• The Court granted Metal Technologies' Motion to Decertify the time-rounding classes.
• The Court denied as moot Metal Technologies' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, in light of ...

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