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Frank Krause, et al. v. Manalapan Township

September 30, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Pisano, District Judge.


Plaintiffs are a current and former patrolmen with the Manalapan Police Department and were members of Manalapan Township's (the "Township's") now defunct K9 Unit. They bring this action under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §201 et seq. ("FLSA") alleging that Defendant failed to pay them overtime compensation for time spent caring for their police dogs outside of their regular shifts. Presently before the Court are Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and Defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment. The Court has carefully reviewed all the materials submitted by the parties and decides this matter without oral argument pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78. For the reasons below, Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment is denied and Defendant's cross motion for summary judgment is granted.

I. Background

Plaintiff Frank Krause was employed by the Manalapan Police Department (the "Department") as a patrolman from approximately 1994 to 2009. Plaintiff William Martin, as of the time of the filing of the instant motions, was also a patrolman with the Department, having been with the Department since 1988. In January of 2000, both Krause and Martin became K9 officers, i.e., members of the then-newly formed K9 unit.

The formation of the Township's K9 unit was spearheaded by Krause, who testified that it was his childhood dream to become a K9 officer. Krause Dep. at 12:9-20 attached as Ex. A to English Cert. Early in the tenure of Police Chief John McCormack, who became Police Chief in 1997, Krause raised with McCormack the idea of creating a K9 unit within the Police Department. After making the proposal, Krause conducted several years of research into developing a K9 unit, which included Krause contacting other agencies to understand the costs associated with running a K9 unit. The Township ultimately formed the K9 unit in 2000. Krause and Martin became the Department's K9 officers.

As K9 officers, Krause and Martin were each responsible for one dog. The Township did not have a central kennel to house the dogs, rather, the dogs lived with each officer in the officer's home. The officers were responsible for all aspects of the dogs' care such as grooming, walking, bathing, feeding, taking the dogs to the vet, administering medication if necessary, exercising the dogs before and after their shifts, keeping their police vehicles clean, keeping their homes clean as relating to the dogs, insect prevention in their homes, physical examination of the dogs, cleaning dog waste, sanitizing their yards, maintaining fences on their property, ensuring that the dog's teeth were healthy, providing flea and parasite control, and providing ongoing training. Given the nature of dog care, not all of these care tasks could be completed while on duty, so the officers spent off duty time caring for their dogs as well.

Martin served as a K9 officer until 2007, and Krause served as a K9 officer until 2008. In 2008, after the death of the dog assigned to Krause, the K9 unit was terminated. In early 2009, Plaintiffs filed the instant lawsuit alleging that Defendant failed to pay Plaintiffs overtime compensation for the time they spent off-duty caring for their canines. In light of the applicable statute of limitations, they seek to recover past overtime compensation for a three-year period, liquidated damages and attorneys' fees.

II. Analysis

A. Summary Judgment Standard

A court shall grant summary judgment under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure "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). The substantive law identifies which facts are critical or "material." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A material fact raises a "genuine" issue "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict" for the non-moving party. Healy v. N.Y. Life Ins. Co., 860 F.2d 1209, 1219 n.3 (3d Cir. 1988).

On a summary judgment motion, the moving party must show, first, that no genuine issue of material fact exists. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). If the moving party makes this showing, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to present evidence that a genuine fact issue compels a trial. Id. at 324. The non-moving party must then offer admissible evidence that establishes a genuine issue of material fact, id., not just "some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986).

The Court must consider all facts and their logical inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Pollock v. American Tel. & Tel. Long Lines, 794 F.2d 860, 864 (3d Cir. 1986). The Court shall not "weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter," but need determine only whether a genuine issue necessitates a trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. If the non-moving party fails to demonstrate proof beyond a "mere scintilla" of evidence that a genuine issue of material fact exists, then the Court must grant summary judgment. Big Apple BMW v. BMW of North America, 974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir. 1992).

B. The Parties' Motions

Plaintiffs seek summary judgment on three issues. First, Plaintiffs ...

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