United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, CHIEF JUDGE
Billings brought this putative collective action to challenge
what he believes to be an inappropriate exemption of claims
adjusters from the minimum and overtime wage requirements of
the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”),
among other employment practices not presently at issue. In
particular, Mr. Billings contends that he is not exempt
because his compensation does not meet the so-called
“salary test.” According to Mr. Billings, his
former employer, RYZE Claim Solutions, LLC
(“Ryze”), deducted his commission
shortcomings from his salary, resulting in payment beneath
the regulatory threshold. Ryze has moved for partial summary
judgment, arguing that Mr. Billings' exemption arguments
suffer from factual and legal deficiencies. In fact, the
undisputed evidence demonstrates that the commission system
was wholly separate from Mr. Billings' guaranteed salary.
Because Mr. Billings satisfies the salary test and does not
challenge any other aspect of his FLSA administrative
exemption, the Court GRANTS Ryze's
Motion for Summary Judgment. [Filing No. 79.]
motion for summary judgment asks the Court to find that a
trial is unnecessary because there is no genuine dispute as
to any material fact and, instead, that the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. SeeFed. R.
Civ. P. 56(a). As the current version of Rule 56 makes clear,
whether a party asserts that a fact is undisputed or
genuinely disputed, the party must support the asserted fact
by citing to particular parts of the record, including
depositions, documents, or affidavits. Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c)(1)(A). A party can also support a fact by showing that
the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence
of a genuine dispute or that the adverse party cannot produce
admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c)(1)(B). Affidavits or declarations must be made on
personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in
evidence, and show that the affiant is competent to testify
on matters stated. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4). Failure to properly
support a fact in opposition to a movant's factual
assertion can result in the movant's fact being
considered undisputed, and potentially in the grant of
summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).
deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court need only
consider disputed facts that are material to the decision. A
disputed fact is material if it might affect the outcome of
the suit under the governing law. Hampton v. Ford Motor
Co., 561 F.3d 709, 713 (7th Cir. 2009). In other words,
while there may be facts that are in dispute, summary
judgment is appropriate if those facts are not outcome
determinative. Harper v. Vigilant Ins. Co., 433 F.3d
521, 525 (7th Cir. 2005). Fact disputes that are irrelevant
to the legal question will not suffice to defeat summary
judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 248 (1986).
summary judgment, a party must show the Court what evidence
it has that would convince a trier of fact to accept its
version of the events. Johnson v. Cambridge Indus.,
325 F.3d 892, 901 (7th Cir. 2003). The moving party is
entitled to summary judgment if no reasonable factfinder
could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Nelson
v. Miller, 570 F.3d 868, 875 (7th Cir. 2009). The Court
views the record in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in that
party's favor. Darst v. Interstate Brands Corp.,
512 F.3d 903, 907 (7th Cir. 2008). It cannot weigh evidence
or make credibility determinations on summary judgment
because those tasks are left to the fact-finder.
O'Leary v. Accretive Health, Inc., 657 F.3d 625,
630 (7th Cir. 2011). The Court need only consider the cited
materials, Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3), and the Seventh Circuit
Court of Appeals has “repeatedly assured the district
courts that they are not required to scour every inch of the
record for evidence that is potentially relevant to the
summary judgment motion before them, ”
Johnson, 325 F.3d at 898. Any doubt as to the
existence of a genuine issue for trial is resolved against
the moving party. Ponsetti v. GE Pension Plan, 614
F.3d 684, 691 (7th Cir. 2010).
their briefing of this matter, the parties have flouted the
undersigned's Practices & Procedures, [Filing No.
22], and the requirements set forth in the Local Rules
of this Court. First, the Practices & Procedures require
that all exhibits be cited by reference “to the docket
number, the attachment number (if any), and the applicable
.pdf page as it appears on the docket information located at
the top of the filed document.” [Filing No. 22 at
4.] The parties failed to comply with this format, and
it has made review of the summary judgment exhibits
needlessly cumbersome. All future filings must comply with
Local Rule 5-1 requires that all briefs “be double
spaced.” S.D. Ind. L.R. 5-1(b). Neither of Mr.
Billings' briefs are double spaced, making it a certainty
that Mr. Billings' response brief also fails to comply
with the applicable 35-page limit set forth in Local Rule
7-1. S.D. Ind. L.R. 7-1(e)(1).
Court will excuse these transgressions in this instance-in no
small part because there are plenty to go around. But in so
doing, the Court in no way minimizes their seriousness. This
Court is among the busiest in the country, see U.S.
Courts, Federal Court Management Statistics, National
Judicial Caseload Profile (Mar. 31, 2019),
and these rules are designed to further the purpose of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure “to secure the just,
speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action and
proceeding, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 1; cf.Fed. R. Civ.
P. 83 (authorizing local rules and standing practices
consistent with the federal rules). The parties must
carefully comply with these requirements in all future
filings in this matter.
following factual background is set forth pursuant to the
standards detailed above. The facts stated are not
necessarily objectively true, but as the summary judgment
standard requires, the undisputed facts and the disputed
evidence are presented in the light most favorable to
“the party against whom the motion under consideration
is made.” Premcor USA, Inc. v. American Home
Assurance Co., 400 F.3d 523, 526-27 (7th Cir. 2005).
This does not mean, however, that Mr. Billings is relieved of
his burden to demonstrate that there is a genuine of material
fact requiring a trial. Logan v. Commercial Union Ins.
Co., 96 F.3d 971, 978 (7th Cir. 1996). As long as the
movant fulfills its “initial responsibility of
informing the district court” why there is no genuine
issue of fact, Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 323 (1986), then Mr. Billings must meet his burden in
response. Mr. Billings' convenient omission of this
principle, which is at the heart of federal summary judgment
practice, from his discussion of the standard of review,
[see Filing No. 92 at 25], may help to explain why
he later asserts that Ryze's exhibits “do not
establish the lack of a genuine issue of material fact”
and do not “establish that Plaintiff was paid a
biweekly salary, ” [Filing No. 98 at
5]. Ryze is required to establish neither; Mr.
Billings is required to set forth evidence to controvert
these assertions to the extent they are properly supported.
While Mr. Billings is entitled to the benefit of reasonable
inferences, his mischaracterization of his burden on summary
judgment does not entitle him to any inferences not properly
supported by admissible evidence. With this observation, the
Court turns to the facts relevant to the Court's ultimate
decision on the instant motion. The parties' myriad
evidentiary disputes are addressed below as appropriate.
Claims Adjusting for Ryze
works primarily with insurance companies and financial
institutions, providing them with independent claims
adjusters to evaluate insureds' claims of personal injury
or property damage. [Filing No. 81-2 at 2-3.] Mr.
Billings was one such claims adjuster. [Filing No. 81-2
at 3.] When an insured of one of Ryze's clients made
a claim, Mr. Billings would be dispatched to investigate and
evaluate the claim. [Filing No. 81-2 at 3.] Among
other things, Mr. Billings was responsible for interviewing
witnesses, inspecting the scene, making coverage
recommendations, assessing the value of the claims, and
negotiating settlements. [Filing No. 81-2 at 3.]
Billings did not work out of a Ryze office, nor did he report
to a single manager. [Filing No. 81-2 at 3.] Rather,
Mr. Billings worked out of his home without direct
supervision and reported to one of a team of supervisors,
depending on the client. [Filing No. 81-5 at 7;
Filing No. 81-5 at 45-46.]
the relevant period of Mr. Billings' employment with
Ryze, which extends from October 20, 2014 until the end of
his employment in July 2016,  his payment was governed by the
terms of his employment agreements. The 2010
“parent” Employment Agreement (which governed
when Mr. Billings worked for Eagle, a predecessor company to
Ryze, [seeFiling No. 97-2 at 1]) provided in part as
4. Compensation and Benefits.
(a) Compensation: Eagle shall pay Employee
compensation pursuant to the terms of the attached
Schedule A. All such payments will be made
in installments at such payment intervals as are the usual
custom of Eagle. Schedule A may be amended from time to time
in the sole discretion of Eagle, provided that Eagle shall
provide Employee with no less than ten (10) days written
notice of any change.
[Filing No. 97-2 at 15.] Paragraph 4(a) of the 2016
Employment Agreement was identical to the 2010 agreement in
every material aspect:
4. Compensation and Benefits
(a) Compensation: RYZE shall pay Employee
compensation pursuant to the terms of the attached Schedule
A. All such payments will be made in installments at such
payment intervals as are the usual custom of RYZE. Schedule A
may be amended from time to time in the sole discretion of
RYZE, provided that RYZE shall notify Employee of any such
changes as soon as practicable.
[Filing No. 81-6 at 3.]
times prior to the relevant period, the attached Schedule A
provided for payment only by commission. [See, e.g.,
Filing No. 97-2 at 19 (2010 Schedule A).] But during the
entire relevant period, Schedule A provided as follows:
Pursuant to and in accordance with the terms of Paragraph
4(a) of the Agreement between RYZE and Employee, RYZE shall
pay to Employee compensation as follows:
(1) Salary: RYZE shall pay Employee
a salary of Nine Hundred Ten Dollars and Zero Cents ($910.00)
on a bi-weekly basis (such bi-weekly basis shall be referred