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Flores v. City of San Gabriel

United States District Court, C.D. California

August 29, 2013

DANNY FLORES, ROBERT BARADA, KEVIN WATSON, VY VAN, RAY LARA, DANE WOOLWINE, RIKIMARU NAKAMURA, CHRISTOPHER WENZEL, CRUZ HERNANDEZ, SHANNON CASILLAS, JAMES JUST, RENE LOPEZ, GILBERT LEE, STEVE RODRIGUES, and ENRIQUE DEANDA, Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF SAN GABRIEL, and DOES 1 THROUGH 10, inclusive, Defendants

Page 1159

For Danny Flores, Robert Barada, Kevin Watson, Vy Van, Ray Lara, Plaintiffs: Christopher L Gaspard, Jeremy D Jass, Joseph Neil Bolander, Michael A McGill, Lackie Dammeier and McGill APC, Upland, CA.

For Dane Woolwine, Rikimaru Nakamura, Christopher Wenzel, Cruz Hernandez, Shannon Casillas, James Just, Gilbert Lee, Steve Rodrigues, Enrique Deanda, Rene Lopez, Plaintiffs: Christopher L Gaspard, Jeremy D Jass, Michael A McGill, Lackie Dammeier and McGill APC, Upland, CA.

For City of San Gabriel, Defendant: Alexander Y Wong, Brian P Walter, Liebert Cassidy Whitmore, Los Angeles, CA.

Page 1160

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Jesus G. Bernal, United States District Judge.

Before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment, or in the alternative, Partial Summary Judgment filed by Defendant City of San Gabriel on May 13, 2013. (Doc. No. 20.) Also before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed on May 13, 2013. (Doc. No. 23.) After considering the papers timely filed and the arguments presented at the August 19, 2013 hearing, the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment and GRANTS IN PART Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. The Court directs the parties to submit further briefing addressing the issue of liquidated damages.

Page 1161

I. BACKGROUND

A. Procedural Background

Plaintiffs Danny Flores, Robert Barada, Kevin Watson, Vy van, Ray Lara, Dane Woolwine, Rikimaru Nakamura, Christopher Wenzel, Cruz Hernandez, Shannon Casillas, James Just, Rene Lopez, Gilbert Lee, Steve Rodrigues, and Enrique Deanda (collectively, " Plaintiffs" ) filed their Complaint on June 4, 2012. (Doc. No. 1.) Defendant City of San Gabriel (" Defendant" ) filed its Answer on June 26, 2012. (Doc. No. 5.)

Defendant filed its Motion for Summary Judgment, or in the alternative, Partial Summary Judgment, on May 13, 2013. (" Def. Mot.," Doc. No. 20.) In support of its Motion, Defendant filed:

o Separate Statement of Uncontroverted Facts and Conclusions of Law (" Def. SUF," Doc. No. 22-1);
o Declaration of Rayna Ospino (" Ospino Mot. Decl.," Exh. 1 to Defendant's Appendix of Evidentiary Support (" Def. Mot. Appendix" ), Doc. No. 21);
o Declaration of Linda Tang (" Tang Mot. Decl.," Exh. 2 to Def. Mot. Appendix);
o Excerpts from City of San Gabriel Resolution No. 02-12, adopted January 7, 2013 (" Resolution No. 02-12," Exh. A to Def. Mot. Appendix);
o Excerpts from the City of San Gabriel Salary, Compensation and Benefit Policy Manual, dated July 3, 2010 (" Policy Manual," Exh. B to Def. Mot. Appendix); and
o Excerpts from the Memorandum of Understanding between the City of San Gabriel and the San Gabriel Police Officers' Association for 2005- 2007, signed August 2, 2005 (" Mot. MOU," Exh. C to Def. Mot. Appendix).

On June 10, 2013, Plaintiffs filed their Opposition to Defendant's Motion. (" Pl. Opp.," Doc. No. 27.) Plaintiffs filed the following documents in support of their Opposition:

o Declaration of Joseph N. Bolander (" Bolander Opp. Decl.," Doc. No. 27-1) attaching Exhibits A-B; and
o Statement of Genuine Disputes of Material Fact (" Pl. SGD," Doc. No. 27-2).

Defendant filed its Reply on June 24, 2013. (" Def. Reply," Doc. No. 31.) In support of its Reply, Defendant also filed its Objections to Plaintiffs' Evidence. (" Def. Reply Obj.," Doc. No. 32.)

Plaintiffs filed their Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on May 13, 2013. (" Pl. Mot.," Doc. No. 23.) In support of their Motion, Plaintiffs also filed the following:

o Declaration of Joseph N. Bolander (" Bolander Mot. Decl.," Doc. No. 23-2);
o Statement of Uncontroverted Facts and Conclusions of Law (" Pl. SUF," Doc. No. 23-3); and
o Request for Judicial Notice (" RJN," Doc. No. 23-4). [1]

On June 10, 2013, Defendant filed its Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion. (" Def. Opp.," Doc. No. 26.) Defendant filed the following documents in support of its Opposition:

o Statement of Genuine Disputes of Material Fact (" Def. SGD," Doc. No. 26-2);

Page 1162

o Declaration of Rayna Ospino (" Ospino Opp. Decl.," Exh. 1 to Defendant's Appendix of Evidentiary Support in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion (" Def. Opp. Appendix" ), Doc. No. 26-1);
o Declaration of Linda Tang (" Tang Opp. Decl.," Exh. 2 to Def. Opp. Appendix);
o Declaration of Marcella Marlowe (" Marlowe Decl.," Exh. 3 to Def. Opp. Appendix);
o Declaration of Alex Y. Wong (" Wong Decl.," Exh. 4 to Def. Opp. Appendix);
o Excerpts from the Memorandum of Understanding Between City of San Gabriel and the San Gabriel Police Officers' Association for 2005-2007, signed August 2, 2005 (" Opp. MOU," Exh. C to Def. Opp. Appendix); and
o Proposed Joint Stipulation of Fact (" Joint Stipulation," Exh. D to Def. Opp. Appendix).

Plaintiffs filed their Reply on June 24, 2013. (" Pl. Reply," Doc. No. 29.) Plaintiffs filed the following documents in support of their Reply:

o Response to Defendant's Statement of Genuine Issues (" Pl. Resp.," Doc. No. 28); and
o Objections to Defendant's Evidence Offered in Support of Defendant's Opposition (" Pl. Reply Obj.," Doc. No. 30.)

B. Complaint

In their Complaint, Plaintiffs allege that they are employed as police officers in the City of San Gabriel Police Department. (Compl., ¶ ¶ 3-17.) The City of San Gabriel and the San Gabriel Police Officers Association entered into the Memorandum of Understanding (" MOU" ) that allowed officers to choose a health insurance cash out option. (Compl., ¶ 19.) Pursuant to the MOU, Plaintiffs are entitled to receive cash back payments for any unused portion of their medical benefits. (Compl., ¶ 20.)

Plaintiffs have been exercising their option to receive the cash back payment for the unused portion of their medical benefits. (Compl., ¶ 23.) However, Defendant does not apply the cash back portions of Plaintiffs' unused medical benefits to their regular rate of pay. (Compl., ¶ 24.) Therefore, the rate Plaintiffs received for overtime hours worked did not include the cash back portions of Plaintiffs' unused medical benefits. (Compl., ¶ 25.) As a result, Defendant failed to pay Plaintiffs for overtime compensation at one and a half times their regular rate of pay. (Compl., ¶ 26.)

Plaintiffs' cause of action arises under the Fair Labor Standards Act " FLSA", 29 U.S.C. § 207, et seq. Plaintiffs request an award of liquidated damages in a sum equal to the amount of the unpaid compensation pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216(d) and recovery of reasonable attorney fees and costs pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). (Compl., ¶ ¶ 31-32.)

C. Parties' Requests for Relief

Defendant filed its Motion for Summary Judgment asserting the following:

o Defendant is entitled to summary judgment on the ground that payments made in lieu of benefits to employees are excluded under 29 U.S.C. § 207(e)(2) or, alternatively, under 29 U.S.C. § 207(e)(4).
o Alternatively, Defendant is entitled to partial summary judgment on the ground that it implemented a partial overtime exemption pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 207(k).

Page 1163

Plaintiffs filed their Motion asserting that they are entitled to partial summary judgment on the following grounds:

o Defendant cannot meet its burden of demonstrating that payments made in lieu of benefits are excluded under section 207(e)(4) since these payments are not made to a trustee or third person;
o Each Plaintiff's total monthly benefit allowance should be included in the regular rate of pay calculation because Defendant's plan does not qualify as a " bona fide" plan pursuant to section 207(e)(4);
o Plaintiffs are entitled to an award of liquidated damages; and
o Plaintiffs are entitled to a three-year statute ...

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