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Raniolo v. Southport, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

July 27, 2015

MARY RANIOLO, Plaintiff,
SOUTHPORT, LLC, et al., Defendants.


E. RICHARD WEBBER, Senior District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF No. 11].


This lawsuit originated when Plaintiff Mary Raniolo ("Plaintiff") filed a complaint against Defendants Southport, LLC, Gary L. Allen, and Garik Allen ("Defendants") alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq, and the Missouri Minimum Wage Law ("MMWL"), Mo. Rev. Stat. § 290.500 et seq. The undisputed facts are as follows.

From March 5, 2012, until March 30, 2014, Plaintiff was employed at Rosemont Senior Living Centre ("Rosemont") as a cook. ECF No. 12.[1] Rosemont rents rooms to residents and provides weekly housekeeping and daily food preparation services. Rosemont is owned and operated by Southport, LLC and its annual gross revenue exceeds $500, 000. Defendant Gary Allen ("Defendant Gary") is the President and majority owner of Southport and his duties include anything that needs to be done for Rosemont. Defendant Garik Allen ("Defendant Garik") is the General Manager of Rosemont and reports directly to his father, Defendant Gary. Defendant Garik has responsibility over employee personnel matters, while Defendant Gary has the ability to veto Defendant Garik's decisions. Defendant Garik has control over how to pay employees, how much to pay employees, and implementing pay policies.

Plaintiff was hired by Defendant Garik for her position as a cook. As part of her daily job duties, Plaintiff regularly ordered and prepared food items and ingredients which originated outside the state of Missouri. Defendant Gary and Defendant Garik were Plaintiff's only supervisors and determined how she was paid, which was on an hourly basis. For all hours Plaintiff worked in excess of forty in a workweek, Plaintiff was only paid her regular hourly rate, not the overtime rate of one and one-half times her regular rate. Plaintiff worked over 900 hours of overtime during her employment at Rosemont. These hours are reflected on her timesheets. Although Defendants knew they must follow applicable state and federal laws, Defendants did not pay Plaintiff overtime after making an agreement with Plaintiff she would not be paid overtime in return for being allowed to work extra hours.


A court shall grant a motion for summary judgment only if the moving party shows "there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). By definition, material facts "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law, " and a genuine dispute of material fact is one "such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). If the non-moving party has failed to "make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, ... there can be no genuine issue as to any material fact, ' since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the non-moving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23.

The moving party bears the initial burden of proof in establishing "the non-existence of any genuine issue of fact that is material to a judgment in his favor." City of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa v. Associated Elec. Co-op., Inc., 838 F.2d 268, 273 (8th Cir. 1988). The moving party must show that "there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. If the moving party meets this initial burden, the non-moving party must then set forth affirmative evidence and specific facts that demonstrate a genuine dispute on that issue. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250. When the burden shifts, the non-moving party may not rest on the allegations in its pleadings, but, by affidavit and other evidence, must set forth specific facts showing that a genuine dispute of material fact exists. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1); Stone Motor Co. v. Gen. Motors Corp., 293 F.3d 456, 465 (8th Cir. 2002). To meet its burden and survive summary judgment, the non-moving party must "do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Instead, the non-moving party must demonstrate sufficient favorable evidence that could enable a jury to return a verdict for it. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. "If the non-moving party fails to produce such evidence, summary judgment is proper." Olson v. Pennzoil Co., 943 F.2d 881, 883 (8th Cir. 1991).

In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court may not "weigh the evidence in the summary judgment record, decide credibility questions, or determine the truth of any factual issue." Kampouris v. St. Louis Symphony Soc., 210 F.3d 845, 847 (8th Cir. 2000). The Court instead "perform[s] only a gatekeeper function of determining whether there is evidence in the summary judgment record generating a genuine issue of material fact for trial on each essential element of a claim." Id. The Court must view the facts and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Reed v. City of St. Charles, 561 F.3d 788, 790 (8th Cir. 2009).


Defendants do not dispute Plaintiff qualifies under both the FLSA and MMWL and is owed overtime pay due to Defendants' violations. The only disputes between the parties concern damages. Plaintiff is asking for actual overtime damages, liquidated damages, and reasonable attorneys' fees and litigation costs. Defendants dispute the time period for actual damages, and deny Plaintiff is entitled to liquidated damages. Additionally, Defendant asserts costs should be recovered by Defendants for Plaintiff's initial dismissal of the case and refiling in a new forum. The Court will address each as follows.

A. Actual Damages

The parties do not dispute the accuracy of the timesheets as to Plaintiff's number of hours and rate of pay. The dispute arises over the time period Plaintiff seeks overtime pay and the applicable statute of limitations. The MMWL has a two-year statute of limitations period; thus, Plaintiff is seeking damages for April 10, 2013, until March 30, 2014. Defendants do not dispute the time period under the MMWL. The FLSA has a similar two-year statute of limitations period unless the cause of action arises out of a willful violation, which has a three-year statute of limitations period. 29 U.S.C. § 255 (1974). Plaintiff asserts Defendants knew they had a legal obligation to pay their employees in compliance with wage laws and deliberating disregarded any risk they were in violation of those laws. Defendants ...

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