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Frank Uriarte v. City of Calexico

July 19, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: M. James Lorenz United States District Court Judge


On January 13, 2011, Plaintiff Frank Uriarte filed a first amended complaint ("FAC") alleging that Defendant City of Calexico denied him his overtime pay in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq. Defendant moves for summary judgment on the FAC. [Doc. # 35-1.] Plaintiff opposes and Defendant filed a reply.*fn1

For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Defendant's motion for summary judgment.


Plaintiff is a police officer employed by Defendant since 2000. (FAC 2:4-6, Ex. "A" to the Notice of Lodgment ("NOL"); Uriarte Dep. 13:21-24, Ex. "B" to NOL.) On January 18, 2006, Defendant promoted Plaintiff to acting sergeant. (Pl.'s Resp. Def.'s Special Interrog. No. 1, Ex. "E" to NOL.) In January 2007, in response to a City wage study know as the "Ewing Study," Defendant implemented a new salary range for all sergeants. (Uriarte Dep. 25:18-26:1.) As a result, Defendant moved Plaintiff from range 86 step 4 to range 98 step 1. (Id.) Accordingly, Plaintiff's regular hourly rate increased from $26.77 to $28.89 as of January 17, 2007. (Uriarte Dep. 48:9-10, Ex. 4.15, Ex. "D" to NOL.) However, Plaintiff believed that he should have been moved to range 98 step 4 instead of range 98 step 1. (Uriarte Dep. 26:2-19.)

On June 2, 2008, Plaintiff met with then City Manager Ralph Velez and Chief of Police Neujahr ("Chief"), and the Chief told Plaintiff that he would not place him at a different step level. (Uriarte Dep. 31:21-32:7; 66:16-25; 70:11-13.) On September 10, 2008, Plaintiff submitted a formal grievance claiming that he was not being paid at the correct step level. (Uriarte Dep. 39:7-23, Ex. 3, Ex. "C" to NOL.) Plaintiff's grievance was entitled "improper step placement" which requested Defendant correct the step placement to range 98 step 5 with back pay. (See Uriarte Dep., Ex. 3.) In January 2009, Plaintiff's step placement changed to range 98 step 5, which was retroactive to the middle of December 2008. (Uriarte Dep. 45:5-20.) At that point, Plaintiff believed he was at the correct step. (Id.) In May 2009, Plaintiff submitted another grievance asking for back pay from January 18, 2007 through December 17, 2008 for placement at the incorrect step. (Uriarte Dep. 44:17-23, 48:1-8, 50:4-9, Ex. 4, Ex. "D" to NOL.) On December 2, 2009, new City Manager Victor Carrillo told Plaintiff that he was not going to correct any back pay issues. (Pl.'s Resp. Def.'s Special Interrog. No.'s 10, 12.)

On March 10, 2010, Plaintiff filed a complaint with this Court contending that he had been paid at an improper rate since January 2007. (Compl. [Doc. # 1], Ex. "F" to NOL.) On January 3, 2011, the Court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint because it did not state a claim under the FLSA. (Order [Doc. # 15] 3:18-26, Ex. "G" to NOL.) In addition, the Court found that if Plaintiff was basing his overtime claim on what he contended was incorrect pay, he did not state a claim under the FLSA. (Order 4:4-6.) Plaintiff sought leave to file an amended complaint based upon the additional allegation that Plaintiff was seeking back pay owed to him for being placed at the wrong level and all overtime wages where he was paid at the improper rate. (FAC [Doc. # 12-3] 3:16-21, Ex. "H" to NOL.) The Court denied Plaintiff leave to file the proposed amended complaint as it suffered the same deficiencies as the original complaint. (Order 4:26-27.)

On January 13, 2011, Plaintiff filed a FAC claiming that he had been denied overtime pay for overtime worked every single pay period since January 2007, in violation of the FLSA. (FAC [Doc. # 16] 3:12-13, Ex. "A" to NOL.) On January 31, 2012, Defendant moved for summary judgment on Plaintiff's FAC.

Legal Standard for a Summary Judgment Motion

Summary judgment is appropriate under Rule 56(c) where the moving party demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and entitlement to judgment as a matter of law.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A fact is material when, under the governing substantive law, it could affect the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Freeman v. Arpaio, 125 F.3d 732, 735 (9th Cir. 1997). A dispute about a material fact is genuine if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

A party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. The moving party can satisfy this burden in two ways: (1) by presenting evidence that negates an essential element of the nonmoving party's case; or (2) by demonstrating that the nonmoving party failed to make a showing sufficient to establish an element essential to that party's case on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Id. at 322-23. "Disputes over irrelevant or unnecessary facts will not preclude a grant of summary judgment." T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors , 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987).

"The district court may limit its review to the documents submitted for the purpose of summary judgment and those parts of the record specifically referenced therein." Carmen v. San Francisco Unified Sch. Dist., 237 F.3d 1026, 1030 (9th Cir. 2001). Therefore, the court is not obligated "to scour the record in search of a genuine issue of triable fact." Keenan v. Allen, 91 F.3d 1275, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996) (citing Richards v. Combined Ins. Co. of Am., 55 F.3d 247, 251 (7th Cir. 1995)). If the moving party fails to discharge this initial burden, summary judgment must be denied and the court need not consider the nonmoving party's evidence. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 159-60 (1970).

If the moving party meets this initial burden, the nonmoving party cannot defeat summary judgment merely by demonstrating "that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Electric Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986); Triton Energy Corp. v. Square D Co., 68 F.3d 1216, 1221 (9th Cir. 1995) ("The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the nonmoving party's position is not sufficient.") (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 242, 252). Rather, the nonmoving party must "go beyond the pleadings" and by "the depositions, answers to interrogatories, ...

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