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Key v. Butch's Rat Hole & Anchor Service, Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

September 5, 2018

WILLIAM KEY, Plaintiff,



         This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, filed on March 30, 2018 (Doc. 20), and Defendant's Motion to Disregard or Strike Plaintiff's Untimely Responses to Defendant's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, filed on June 18, 2018 (Doc. 31). Jurisdiction arises under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.[1] Having considered the submissions of counsel and relevant law, the Court will DENY both motions.

         Plaintiff and all putative class members worked for Butch's Rat Hole & Anchor Service, Inc. (Defendant) laying pipe for oil and gas wells. This lawsuit arises out of a disagreement about whether the workers were entitled to overtime pay under the New Mexico Minimum Wage Act (MWA). Because Plaintiff has come forward with evidence that creates a genuine issue of material fact, the Court will deny the motion for summary judgment.

         I. Factual Background[2]

         Defendant is a Texas oilfield service company that provides services to oil and gas industry customers. (See Docs. 1 (Compl.) ¶ 2; 20 at 2 ¶ 1; 20-1 ¶ 2.) Defendant employed William Key (Plaintiff) from November 2014 through August 2016. (Doc. 29-1 ¶ 1.) Plaintiff has filed a class action complaint alleging that Defendant failed to pay certain “non-exempt workers” (also referred to as “Field Workers”) overtime hours in violation of the New Mexico Minimum Wage Act, N.M. Stat. Ann. § 50-4-22(D). (See Compl. ¶¶ 2-6, 8.) The Field Worker positions represented in the declarations Plaintiff submitted include Casing Floor Hands, Derrick Hands, Stabbers, Tool Haulers, Crew Haulers, and Relief Operators. (See Docs. 29-1-29-4.) Defendant moves for partial summary judgment and asks the Court to dismiss Plaintiff's claim only with respect to those Field Workers who were employed as Casing Floor Hands. (See Doc. 20 at 1.)

         During the time period covered by this lawsuit (see Compl. ¶ 8), Casing Floor Hands received several different types of pay, [3] two of which are relevant to this motion: (1) “Footage Pay, ” which is calculated on a per-foot-of-pipe-laid basis; and (2) “Location Hours Pay” (also referred to as “Exceeded Hours Pay”), which is calculated on an hourly basis. (See Docs. 20-1 ¶¶ 6, 8; 29-1 ¶ 3; 29-2 ¶ 3.) Defendant's payment structure[4] worked as follows: Defendant allotted a certain number of hours for its workers to lay pipe (also referred to as “running casing”) on each customer's project, based on Defendant's estimate that workers can lay approximately 1, 000 feet of pipe per hour. (See, e.g., Doc. 29-1 ¶ 3.) Plaintiff asserts that Defendant added some additional hours to each bid to allow time for “rigging up and rigging down.” (Id.) The total number of hours bid gave Defendant the maximum “Footage Pay” it would pay out to its Casing Floor Hands. (Id.) If the project exceeded this set number of bid hours, Defendant then paid Casing Floor Hands the hourly “Location Hours Pay” rate for all hours worked over the bid hours. (Id.; see also Doc. 20-1 ¶ 8.)

         Plaintiff asserts that at times, the Casing Floor Hands had to wait before beginning or resuming their duties at a customer's well location. (Doc. 29-1 ¶ 3.) Defendant required the Casing Floor Hands to remain at the job site during these unproductive times.[5] (Id.) If this unproductive time occurred within Defendant's bid hours and Casing Floor Hands were still being paid under the Footage Pay structure, they were not compensated for the down time.[6] (Id. ¶¶ 3, 7.)

         Both parties submitted sample pay stubs from the relevant time period. (See Docs. 20-1-2; 29-5-29-6.) Plaintiff's four pay stubs demonstrate that, at least for these particular paychecks, Plaintiff's Location Hours Pay accounted for anywhere from 15.5% to 22.1% of his total pay. (See Doc. 29-5.) The Location Hours Pay accounted for 16.9% of the total year-to-date pay as shown on the employee's paycheck that Defendant submitted.

         II. Summary Judgment Standard of Review

         Summary judgment is appropriate when the Court, viewing the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, determines “that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Garrison v. Gambro, Inc., 428 F.3d 933, 935 (10th Cir. 2005). A fact is “material” if it could influence the determination of the suit. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute over a material fact is “genuine” if a reasonable trier of fact could return a verdict for either party. Id. The moving party bears the initial responsibility of “show[ing] that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” Bacchus Indus., Inc. v. Arvin Indus., Inc., 939 F.2d 887, 891 (10th Cir. 1991) (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986)).

         Once the moving party meets this burden, Rule 56(e) “requires the nonmoving party to go beyond the pleadings and by [his] own affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)) (quotation marks omitted). The party opposing a motion for summary judgment “must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial as to those dispositive matters for which it carries the burden of proof.” Applied Genetics Int'l, Inc. v. First Affiliated Sec., Inc., 912 F.2d 1238, 1241 (10th Cir. 1990) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324).

         III. The Court will deny Defendant's motion for partial summary judgment.

         The MWA “generally requires employers to pay overtime to employees who work more than 40 hours per week.” Casias v. Distrib. Mgmt. Corp., Inc., No. CV 11-00874 MV/RHS, 2013 WL 12091857, at *5 (D.N.M. Mar. 27, 2013) (citing N.M. Stat. Ann. § 50-4-22(D)). “The Act, however, contains several exemptions from the definition of ‘employee.'” Id. (citing N.M. Stat. Ann. § 50-4-21(C)). The MWA defines the term “employee” as “an individual employed by an employer.” N.M. Stat. Ann. § 50-4-21(C). Relevant to this lawsuit, however, the Act excludes from that term “salespersons or employees compensated upon piecework, flat rate schedules or commission basis.” Id. § 50-4-21(C)(5)).

         Plaintiff contends that Defendant violated § 50-4-22(D) when it failed to pay its Field Workers, including Casing Floor Hands, overtime pay. (Compl. ¶¶ 1, 45-46.) Defendant contends that Casing Floor Hands are excluded from the definition of “employee” because Defendant pays them “exclusively on a piecework or flat rate basis” pursuant to § 50-4-21(C)(5). (Doc. 20-1 ¶ 3 (emphasis added); see also Doc. 20 ¶ 6.) Plaintiff disagrees, noting that Casing Floor Hands were paid ...

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