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Antemate v. Estenson Logistics, LLC

United States District Court, C.D. California

November 7, 2017

CLODOALDO ANTEMATE, an individual, for himself and all members of the putative class, and on behalf of aggrieved employees pursuant to the Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”), Plaintiff,
v.
ESTENSON LOGISTICS, LLC, a Nevada limited liability; and DOES 1 through 100, inclusive, Defendants.

          FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

          Dale S. Fischer, United States District Judge

         Defendant's affirmative defense to its alleged failure to pay weekly overtime compensation to the class of employees came on for trial before the Court sitting without a jury on May 9-10, 2017. The Court, having heard live testimony and having duly considered the evidence, the credibility of the witnesses, and the contentions and arguments of counsel, makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law in accordance with Rule 52(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.[1]

         FINDINGS OF FACT

         1. Estenson Logistics, LLC (Estenson) provides logistic transportation services for its customers (such as Home Depot), transporting merchandize from vendors to customers' distribution centers, and from the distribution centers on to customers' retail stores. Tr. 94:1-5, 196:20-197:2.

         2. Estenson employs both “route drivers” and “yard hostlers.” Tr. 18:5-17, 94:18-95:1, 197:3-7.

         3. Route drivers primarily transport freight from a customer's facility to a final destination. Tr. 94:18-22. During the relevant time period, route drivers were paid based on activity. Tr. 108:10-13.

         4. Yard hostlers primarily shuttle empty and loaded trailers within the confines of a distribution center. Tr. 18:15-17, 94:23-95:1, 197:3-7. Yard hostlers are paid by the hour. Tr. 106:8-11.

         5. The certified class includes 103 yard hostlers employed by Estenson in California from May 30, 2010 through the present. See June 15, 2015 Order (Dkt. 72).

         6. Plaintiff Clodoaldo Antemate worked as a yard hostler for Estenson from November 27, 2009 through May 31, 2013, primarily at Estenson's Home Depot Rapid Deployment Center (RDC) in Tracy, California (the Tracy RDC). Tr. 235:18-23, 241:6-15.

         I. The Nature of Estenson's Business

         7. The merchandise that customers ship to Estenson's California distribution centers comes from all over the world, arriving through California's seaports, rail lines, and highways. Tr. 10:23-11:3; 12:15-13:17, 201:10-202:1, 255:6-256:14; 257:9-259:21.

         8. Shipping containers arriving at the Tracy RDC from a seaport primarily contain products coming from China. Tr. 257:12-258:12. Shipping containers arriving at the Tracy RDC by rail mostly contain merchandise from the east coast of the United States. Tr. 258:6-16. Estenson also transports freight from Nevada to the Tracy RDC. Tr. 10:23-11:3.

         9. Estenson's customers ship their merchandise to Estenson's distribution centers with the understanding that the merchandise will be transported to a final destination outside the distribution center, such as a customer's retail location.

         Tr. 125:24-126:6, 217:19-218:3, 218:21-219:25.

         10. When a trailer full of products is brought to a distribution center, Estenson's customers unload the products and consolidate them with products from other incoming shipments for distribution to retail locations.[2] Tr. 13:18-17:8, 201:21-202:1, 202:17-203:2. Items shipped to a distribution center on a single trailer will be transported to many different stores on many different trailers. Tr. 16:10-17:2.

         11. Merchandise remains in the Tracy RDC for processing for approximately three days before being sent to its final destination. Tr. 17:20-22.

         II. Estenson Represents to Yard Hostlers That They Are Classified as Non-exempt Employees Entitled to Overtime Pay

         12. The offer letter Estenson issues to each yard hostler at the time of hiring states that “[t]his position is classified as a non-exempt position; therefore, it is eligible for overtime.” Tr. 268:14-269:4; Ex. 9.

         13. Estenson tells yard hostlers that they are non-exempt. Tr. 66:21-22.

         14. Estenson's employee manual states: “The non-exempt status of our drivers is intended to be an additional benefit to the total rewards package offered through employment with [Estenson].” Tr. 135:2-7; Ex. 590 at 31. It further states that “[n]on-exempt employees . . . are paid an overtime rate based on the state location.” Tr. 136:2-7; Ex. 590 at 23.

         15. Estenson pays its yard hostlers daily overtime for hours they work over eight hours each day. Tr. 106:16-21.

         16. Estenson does not pay its yard hostlers weekly overtime for hours they work over forty hours each week. Tr. 144:7-145:2.

         17. Plaintiff understood the yard hostler position to be non-exempt and that he would be entitled to overtime compensation. Tr. at 266:14-23, 267:20-21; Ex. 9.

         III. Estenson Advises Yard Hostlers They May be Asked to Drive on the Road

          18. The job description for the “Yard Jockey / Spotter Position” states that the “Duties and Responsibilities” of yard hostlers include “[o]ccasional local delivery.” Tr. 116:3-22, 146:13-147:1, 166:14-23; Ex. 556.

         19. Estenson informs yard hostlers that they may be called on to perform local deliveries, which include driving on highways. Tr. 56:6-15, Tr. 58:4-18.

         20. Local deliveries are deliveries that can be completed in one work shift so that the driver does not have to be away from home overnight. Tr. 56:16-17.

         21. Plaintiff understood that yard hostlers could be pulled from their yard hostling work to perform local deliveries. Tr. 261:16-22. Plaintiff also signed several form documents during his employment that reference route driving work. See Ex. 554.

         22. When Estenson hired Plaintiff, Estenson gave him a fuel card to fill up the truck he was using to bring trailers into the Tracy yard facility. Tr. 242:3-16. Estenson told Plaintiff to keep the fuel card because there were instances when ...


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