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Badia v. Homedelivery Link, Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

July 22, 2014

HENRY BADIA, ALVIN BRANCH, JAMIE DELCID, JOSE MUNOZ, MIGUEL PUCA, GEORGE RODRIQUEZ, and WALTER VELASQUEZ, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
HOMEDELIVERY LINK, INC. and MACY'S INC., Defendants. CAMILLO ECHAVARRIA, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
HOMEDELIVERY LINK, INC. and MACY'S INC., Defendants. HOMEDELIVERY LINK, INC., Counterclaimant,
v.
HENRY BADIA, ALVIN BRANCH, JOSE MUNOZ, and MIGUEL PUCA, Counterclaim Defendants. HOMEDELIVERY LINK, INC., Third-Party Plaintiff,
v.
MELIAN TRUCKING CORP., G ROD TRUCKING, INC. and SHORTY'S TRUCKING CORP., Third-Party Defendants.. No. 2:12-cv-07097 (WJM).

OPINION

WILLIAM J. MARTINI, District Judge.

At issue in this putative class action is whether Plaintiffs were misclassified as independent contractors when they were actually employees. Now before the Court are two motions to dismiss claims for indemnification. First, Plaintiffs Jamie Delcid, George Rodriguez, and Walter Velasquez, move pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) to dismiss Counterclaimant/Third-Party Plaintiff Homedelivery Link, Inc.'s ("HDL's") Third-Party Complaint for indemnification. Second, Plaintiffs/Counterclaim Defendants Henry Badia, Alvin Branch, Jose Munoz, and Miguel Puca move pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) to dismiss HDL's Counterclaim for indemnification. There was no oral argument. Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b). For the reasons set forth below, the motion to dismiss the Third-Party Complaint is DENIED. The motion to dismiss the Counterclaim is GRANTED IN PART, and DENIED IN PART.

I. BACKGROUND

The Plaintiffs in this consolidated case are Henry Badia, Alvin Branch, Jamie Delcid, Jose Munoz, Miguel Puca, George Rodriguez, Walter Velasquez, as well as Camillo Echavarria, who does not join the instant motion and who will be disregarded for purposes of this opinion. The Defendants in this case are HDL and Macy's.[1] HDL provides residential delivery services for Macy's. Compl. ¶ 15, ECF No. 1. Pursuant to contract, Plaintiffs work or worked as delivery drivers for HDL. Id. ¶ 19. Plaintiffs Badia, Branch, Munoz, and Puca signed the contracts with HDL their own names. Answer, Exs. A-D, ECF No. 40-1. Plaintiff George Rodriguez contracted with HDL through Rodriguez's company, Third-Party Defendant G Rod Trucking, Inc. Id. at Ex. E.[2] Plaintiff Jamie Delcid contracted with HDL through Delcid's company, Third-Party Defendant Melian Trucking Corp. Id. at Ex. G.[3] Plaintiff Walter Velasquez contracted with HDL through Velasquez's company, Third-Party Defendant Shorty's Trucking Corp. Id. at Ex. F.

The contracts between Plaintiffs and HDL (the "Contracts") are all captioned "Lease for Services of Owner-Operator (Independent Contractor)." Id. at Exs. A-F. For present purposes, four features of the Contracts stand out.

First, the Contracts explicitly state that Plaintiffs are independent contractors, not employees. Contract ¶ 11 ("[Plaintiffs] shall perform the [specified] Services as an independent contractors, and the Parties shall not be deemed for any purpose to be employer/employee....").

Second, Paragraph 13 of the Contracts require Plaintiffs to perform certain services and assume certain responsibilities. See id. ¶¶ 2(a)(iii) (supply properly trained and qualified drivers); 3 (assume responsibility for loading and unloading); 7 (pay HDL for valid claim of loss, damage, or non-delivery); 8 (pay for damage to shipments); 9 (maintain insurance coverage).

Third, the Contracts require Plaintiffs to indemnify HDL as follows:

[Plaintiff] agrees to indemnify, defend and hold [HDL]... harmless from and against any and all losses, suits, actions, debts, demands, fines, judgments, damages, liability, costs, expenses (including reasonable attorneys' fees and court costs), obligations and claims including, without limit, for injury to persons, including death, and damage to property, including if brought by Owner's employees or agents, by reason of:
(iii)... [Plaintiff's] breach of the terms and conditions of this Lease,
(iv) any misrepresentation(s) by [Plaintiff]...

Contract ¶ 13.

Fourth, the Contracts provide that Plaintiffs' "sole compensation" will be the compensation specified in the Contracts. Id. ¶ 14.

On August 30, 2012, Plaintiffs filed a six-count Complaint in New Jersey Superior Court alleging that they were misclassified as independent contractors when they were actually employees. Compl., ECF No. 1; see also Pls.' Br. at 4, ECF No. 48-1 ("Simply put, the outcome of Plaintiffs' claims turn on whether Defendants misclassified [Plaintiffs] as independent contractors (rather than employees) under New Jersey law."). Count 1 seeks a declaratory judgment that Plaintiffs were employees. Counts 2-4, brought pursuant to the New Jersey Wage Payment Law, allege that HDL made ...


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