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Helton v. Factor 5, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California, Oakland Division

February 10, 2014

JESSE HELTON; ALISHA PICCIRILLO; CHAD LOWE; individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
FACTOR 5, INC.; FACTOR 5, LLC; BLUHARVEST, LLC; WHITEHARVEST, LLC; JULIAN EGGEBRECHT; HOLGER SCHMIDT; THOMAS ENGEL; and DOES 1-100, Defendants

Page 914

For Jesse Helton, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Alisha Piccirillo, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Chad Lowe, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs: James Alan Neal Smith, LEAD ATTORNEY, Damien Patrick Lillis, Smith Lillis Pitha LLP, San Francisco, CA; Martin Lukas Pitha, Smith Lillis Pitha LLP, Irvine, CA.

For Whiteharvest, LLC, Defendant: Kenneth Keith McAllister, Law Office of K. Keith McAllister, Tiburon, CA.

For Julian Eggebrecht, Holger Schmidt, Thomas Engel, Defendants: Malcolm Leader-Picone, LEAD ATTORNEY, Bartlett, Leader-Picone & Young LLP, Oakland, CA.

For Nixon Peabody LLP, Interested Party: Kent Jonas, LEAD ATTORNEY, Nixon Peabody LLP, San Francisco, CA.

Page 915

ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT

SAUNDRA BROWN ARMSTRONG, United States District Judge.

Docket 97

Plaintiffs,[1] individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, bring the instant

Page 916

action against Defendants to recover unpaid wages and other benefits under state and federal law. The parties are presently before the Court on Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment against the individual Defendants [2] on their minimum wage claim under the Fair Labor Standards Act (" FLSA" ), 29 U.S.C. § 206. Dkt. 97. The individual Defendants oppose the motion. Dkt. 113. Having read and considered the papers filed in connection with this matter and being fully informed, the Court hereby GRANTS Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment, for the reasons stated below. The Court, in its discretion, finds this matter suitable for resolution without oral argument. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b); N.D. Cal. Civ. L.R. 7-1(b).

I. BACKGROUND

Because the parties are familiar with the facts of this case, the Court will only recite those facts which are relevant to the resolution of the instant motion. The Court finds that the following facts are undisputed.

Plaintiffs are former employees of Factor 5, a software and video game developer. Helton was employed by Factor 5 as a Senior/Lead Programmer from on or about May 15, 2006 until on or about December 19, 2008. Lowe was employed by Factor 5 as a Producer from on or about December 24, 2005 until on or about December 19, 2008. Piccirillo was employed by Factor 5 as a Senior Technical Artist from on or about August 2002 until on or about December 19, 2008. The individual Defendants founded Factor 5 and were the owners, directors, and officers of Factor 5 at all relevant times.

On November 1, 2008, Factor 5 stopped paying its employees earned wages. On December 19, 2008, Factor 5 terminated all of its employees. Factor 5 did not pay Plaintiffs for the work they performed for Factor 5 from November 1, 2008 to December 19, 2008.

On January 21, 2009, Plaintiffs filed a class action complaint in the Superior Court of California, County of Marin, to recover earned wages and other benefits due under California law. On October 13, 2010, Plaintiffs filed a first amended complaint (" FAC" ), adding the individual Defendants as well as claims under the FLSA. On October 29, 2010, the individual Defendants removed the action to this Court on the basis of federal question jurisdiction. The parties are presently before the Court on Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment against the individual Defendants on their minimum wage claim under the FLSA.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

" A party may move for summary judgment, identifying each claim . . . or the part of each claim . . . on which summary judgment is sought. The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows 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). A material fact is one that could affect the outcome of the suit under the governing substantive law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). For a dispute to be " genuine," a reasonable jury must be able to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.

Page 917

The moving party's burden on summary judgment depends on whether it bears the burden of proof at trial with respect to the claim or defense at issue. When the party moving for summary judgment would bear the burden of proof at trial, it must come forward with evidence which would entitle it to a directed verdict if the evidence went uncontroverted at trial. See C.A.R. Transp. Brokerage Co., Inc. v. Darden Restaurants, Inc., 213 F.3d 474, 480 (9th Cir. 2000). In such a case, the moving party has the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of fact on each issue material to its case. Id. However, if the nonmoving party bears the burden of proof on an issue at trial, such as an affirmative defense, the moving party need not produce affirmative evidence of an absence of fact to satisfy its burden. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The moving party may simply point to the absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case. Id.

Once the moving party has met its burden, the burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to designate specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256 (" a party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment may not rest upon mere allegations or denials of his pleading, but must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." ). A party asserting that a fact is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by " citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1) (A).

To carry its burden, the nonmoving party must show more than the mere existence of a scintilla of evidence, Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252, and " do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). In fact, the nonmoving party must come forward with affirmative evidence from which a jury could reasonably render a verdict in the nonmoving party's favor. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252, 257. In determining whether a jury could reasonably render a verdict in the nonmoving party's favor, the court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all justifiable inferences in its favor. Id. at 255. Nevertheless, inferences are not drawn out ...


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