The opinion of the court was delivered by: Garrett E. Brown, Jr., U.S.D.J.
This matter comes before the Court upon the motion for summary judgment and for partial summary judgment filed by Plaintiffs Teresa Janos ("Janos") and Petr Zednik ("Zednik") (collectively "Plaintiffs") on October 20, 2010. (Doc. No. 222) Defendant Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. ("Wal-Mart") opposes Plaintiffs' present motion. (Doc. No. 228) The Court has considered the parties' submissions and decided this matter without oral argument pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78. Having done so, Plaintiffs' motion will be denied for the reasons that follow.
Plaintiffs' present motion was filed without leave after nearly seven years of complex litigation, three years after the close of discovery, and approximately six weeks before this case's then-scheduled trial date of November 29, 2010. As the Court writes only for the parties, who are familiar with this case's lengthy procedural history and detailed factual background, the Court will here summarize only that information relevant to the Court's decision in the present matter.
Distilled to fundamentals, Plaintiffs allege that they were employed by a variety of third-party corporations that contracted with Wal-Mart to provide overnight cleaning services at various Wal-Mart stores across the United States. Plaintiffs further allege that the third-party entities for which they worked were merely "shell" corporations whose actual purpose was to provide frequently undocumented and underpaid personnel to clean Wal-Mart's stores after-hours. Plaintiffs further allege that at times, they were confined in the Wal-Mart stores they were assigned to clean. Based upon these allegations, Plaintiffs assert that Wal-Mart was their "employer" pursuant to the terms of 29 U.S.C. Sections 201-219, the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), and that Wal-Mart's actions violated certain FLSA provisions. Additionally, Plaintiffs allege that their confinement in various Wal-Mart stores amounts to the common law tort of false imprisonment.
In their present motion, Plaintiffs seek summary judgment on their FLSA claims and seek partial summary judgment regarding Wal-Mart's liability to Plaintiffs for tortuous false imprisonment. Wal-Mart opposes Plaintiffs' present motion on two grounds: (1) that Plaintiffs' motion is procedurally improper; and (2) that various disputed material facts preclude summary judgment on any of Plaintiffs' claims. Having considered the parties' submissions, the Court agrees with both of Wal-Mart's arguments and will deny Plaintiffs' present motion.
A party seeking summary judgment must "show that . . . [it] is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c). The threshold inquiry is whether there are "any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986) (noting that no issue for trial exists unless there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict in its favor). The moving party carries the burden of showing "the absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). In countering a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party has the burden of "showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(e)(2). The nonmoving party "may not rely merely on allegations or denials" but must present "specific facts." Id.; see also Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986) ("[nonmoving party] must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts"). In deciding whether triable issues of fact exist, the court must view the underlying facts and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Id. at 587; Pa. Coal Ass'n v. Babbitt, 63 F.3d 231, 236 (3d Cir. 1995).
1. Plaintiffs' FLSA Claims
In support of Plaintiffs' present motion for summary judgment on their FLSA claims, Plaintiffs argue that there is no reasonable dispute as to: (1) Wal-Mart's status as Plaintiffs "employer" for purposes of the FLSA; (2) that Wal-Mart's alleged violations of the FLSA were "willful"; (3) that Wal-Mart did not pay Plaintiffs overtime; and (4) Plaintiffs' damages arising from Wal-Mart's alleged FLSA violations. Wal-Mart opposes each of Plaintiffs' foregoing contentions, and in doing so, presents not only its own evidence, but also highlights various statements made by Plaintiffs in their depositions, as well as other contrary evidence submitted by Plaintiffs. When this evidence is considered in light of the applicable summary judgment standard, the Court must conclude that material issues of fact exist as to each of Plaintiffs' foregoingcontentions. Plainly, the billing records submitted by Wal-Mart raise genuine issues of fact as to: (1) Wal-Mart's status as "employer" pursuant to the FLSA; (2) that Wal-Mart's alleged violations of the FLSA were "willful"; and (3) that Wal-Mart did not pay Plaintiffs overtime. Axiomatically, then, the existence or quantum of any damages under the FLSA is also in ...