United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MARIO BERRY, on behalf of himself and others similarly-situated, Plaintiff,
BEST TRANSPORTATION, INC., d/b/a BEST TRANSPORTATION OF ST. LOUIS, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. ROSS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment (Doc. 96) and Plaintiffs Motion for Partial
Summary Judgment (Doc. 99). The motions are fully briefed and
ready for disposition.
Best Transportation, Inc., is a Missouri company that
provides transportation services. (Doc. 96-1 at ¶ 1.)
Defendants Kim Garner and Deborah Rudawsky are co-owners of
Best Transportation. (Id. at ¶ 2.) Best
Transportation operates a division known as GO Best Express,
which "specializes in transporting individuals to and
from locations within the St. Louis Metropolitan Area and
into Illinois; including to and from Lambert International
Airport, " in St. Louis. (Id. at ¶3.)
to April 2014, GO Best Express operated a fleet of nine Ford
E-350 Econoline Super Duty Extended Wagon vans, which were
given vehicle numbers in the 300's (the "300
Vans"). (Id. at ¶ 6.) The E-350 had a
gross vehicle weight rating of 9, 100 pounds and was marketed
as accommodating up to fifteen passengers, including the
driver. (Id. at ¶¶ 7-8). GO Best Express
removed the four-seat rear bench to create space for
passengers' luggage, reducing the 300 Vans' seating
capacity to eleven. (Id. at ¶ 9.)
2009, Best Transportation signed a contract with Lambert
International Airport to transport passengers to and from the
airport. (Id. at ¶ 11.) Because the contract
stipulated that Best Transportation must use vehicles with no
more than eight seats, Best Transportation removed the
three-seat middle bench from the 300 Vans. (Id. at
¶¶ 12-14.) In December 2011, when Best
Transportation and the airport amended their contract to
allow the use of vans with more than eight seats, Best
Transportation replaced the middle benches in all of the 300
Vans. (Id. at ¶¶ 15-20.)
2014, Best Transportation signed a new contract with the
airport that did not include a seat limit and leased eleven
new Ford E-350 vans, which were given vehicle numbers in the
900's (the "900 Vans"). (Id. at ¶
24.) The 900 Vans were also rated at 9, 100 pounds and
marketed as accommodating up to fifteen passengers.
(Id. at ¶¶ 25, 28.) The 900 Vans were
leased from Penske, who removed the rear bench to make space
for luggage before delivering them to Best Transportation,
thereby reducing the seating capacity to eleven.
(Id. at ¶ 29.) Best Transportation made no
other modifications to the 900 Vans. (Id. at
Mario Berry worked as a driver for the GO Best Express
division from May 2013 to April 2015, but he occasionally
drove for Best Transportation's other divisions.
(Id. at ¶¶ 33-34.) When driving for GO
Best Express, Berry primarily operated the 300 and 900 Vans,
although he also drove other vehicles accommodating thirteen,
fourteen, twenty-one, or twenty-four passengers.
(Id. at ¶¶ 37-38.) When assisting Best
Transportation's other divisions, however, Berry drove
Sport Utility Vehicles ("SUV's") with seating
capacities of eight or less. (Id. at ¶ 40.)
April 6, 2016, Berry, on behalf of himself and others
similarly situated, filed suit against Defendants, alleging
that they had failed to pay overtime wages in violation of
the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C.
§§ 201-19. (Doc. 1.) The parties conducted an
initial phase of discovery on the issue of whether Berry and
those similarly situated were exempt from overtime protection
under the so-called "Motor Carrier Act"
("MCA") exemption to the FLSA. (Doc. 75); 29 U.S.C.
filed this Motion for Summary Judgment, arguing that Berry
was exempt from overtime protection under the MCA exemption.
(Doc. 96.) Berry responds that the MCA exemption does not
apply and that, even if it does, he is entitled to the
protection of the SAFETEA-LU Technical Corrections Act of
2008 (the "TCA exception"), because the SUV's
were "small vehicles" with only eight seats. Pub.
L. No. 110-244, Title III, § 306(a) (2008) [hereinafter
"TCA"]. (Doc. 110.)
filed his own Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, arguing
that GO Best Express was not engaged in interstate commerce
and therefore could not claim the MCA exemption applied to
its drivers. Berry alternatively argues that, even if the MCA
exemption were available to Defendants, they would have to
show that he never drove a small vehicle. (Doc. 99.)
Because Defendants admit that Berry drove small vehicles
during at least twenty weeks, he argues that he is entitled
to summary judgment regarding those weeks. (Id.)
Defendants respond that Berry misstates the standard and that
his operation of small vehicles was de minimis, meaning he
does not qualify for the protection of the TCA exception.
judgment is proper where the evidence, when viewed in a light
most favorable to the non-moving party, indicates that no
genuine issue of material fact exists and that the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Davison v. City of Minneapolis, Minn., 490 F.3d 648,
654 (8th Cir. 2007); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).
Summary judgment is not appropriate if there are factual
disputes that may affect the outcome of the case under the
applicable substantive law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). An issue of material
fact is genuine if the evidence would allow a reasonable jury
to return a verdict for the non-moving party. Id.
"The basic inquiry is whether the evidence presents a
sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or
whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a
matter of law." Diesel Machinery, Inc. v. B.R. Lee
Industries, Inc., 418 F.3d 820, 832 (8th Cir. 2005)
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The moving
party has the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of
a genuine issue of material fact. City of Mt. Pleasant v.
Ass'd Elec. Co-op., Inc., 838 F.2d 268, 273 (8th
Cir. 1988). If the movant does so, the burden then shifts to
the non-moving party, who must set forth affirmative evidence
and specific facts showing a genuine dispute on that issue.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249.
noted, the Court reviews the facts in a light most favorable
to the party opposing the motion and gives that party the
benefit of any inferences that logically can be drawn from
those facts. The Court is required to resolve all conflicts
of evidence in favor of the nonmoving party, Osborn v.
KF. Hutton & Co., Inc.,853 F.2d 616, 619 (8th Cir.
1988), and may not make credibility determinations, weigh the