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Collins v. ARP Renovations & Maintenance, LLC

United States District Court, D. New Jersey, Camden Vicinage

March 13, 2018

CHASE COLLINS, Plaintiff,
v.
ARP RENOVATIONS AND MAINTENANCE, LLC, AND ANDREW POLLOCK, Defendants.

          OPINION

          ROBERT B. KUGLER United States District Judge

         This Court now considers Defendants ARP Renovations and Maintenance, LLC (“ARP”) and Andrew Pollock's (“Pollock”) (collectively, “Defendants”) Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. No. 22). For the reasons expressed below, Defendants' motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background[1]

         This case arises out of a dispute between a roofing company and its salesman over allegedly unpaid minimum and overtime wages and commissions. Pollock[2] owns ARP, [3] a roofing business. (Compl. ¶ 5). In March 2014, Defendants hired Collins as a sales person to sell roofing jobs. (Compl. ¶ 7; Pl.'s Ex. A at 16; Pl.'s Ex. C ¶ 3). Pollock was Collins's only supervisor. (Pl.'s Opp. at 2; Pl.'s Ex. C ¶ 5). Collins's job consisted of canvassing neighborhoods; that is, making cold calls to the homes of potential customers. (Pl.'s Opp. at 2; Pl.'s Ex. B at 13-14). Collins “reported to” Defendants' offices and used a vehicle provided by Defendants to make these sales calls at the homes of customers. (Pl.'s Opp. at 2; Pl.'s Ex. A at 56; Pl.'s Ex. C ¶ 6). Collins also sometimes performed emergency roofing services and roof patches. (Pl.'s Ex. C ¶ 7). The parties had a verbal agreement regarding compensation, though they dispute the terms of that agreement. (Pl.'s Ex. C ¶ 11; Defs.' Br. at 3). Both parties agree that Collins was paid commissions based on the number of sales he made. The commission structure itself is in dispute, [4] as are the number of hours Collins worked per week.[5]

         Neither party disputes that Defendants paid Collins in a timely manner and in full from the time he was hired until March 2015. (Defs.' Br. at 2-3; Defs.' Ex. H at 22; Compl. ¶ 10; Pl.'s Opp. at 2). Nor do the parties dispute that Defendants fired Collins in August 2015. (Defs.' Br. at 2; Compl. ¶ 17). The parties' versions of the facts diverge, however, insofar as what occurred between March and August 2015. Defendants assert that Collins was paid in full between March and August 2015. (Defs.' Br. at 3; Defs.' Ex. I at 33). Collins claims that he is owed minimum and overtime wages for every week he worked in 2015, [6] and seven weeks that he was not paid between March and August. (Pl.'s Opp. at 3-4). Collins also claims that he is owed at least $23, 277.18 in commissions and a signing bonus combined. (Pl.'s Ex. C ¶¶ 26-31). Collins brought suit for unpaid minimum wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) (Count I), unpaid overtime wages under the FLSA (Count II) and unpaid wages under the New Jersey Wage Payment Law (“NJWPL”) (Count III).

         B. Procedural Background

         Collins filed his complaint against Defendants for alleged violations of the FLSA, 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq., and the NJWPL, N.J. STAT. ANN. § 34:11-56, et seq. Defendants answered the complaint and asserted counter-claims against Collins.[7] (Doc. No. 7). On July 17, 2017, Defendants moved for partial summary judgment seeking dismissal of all of Collins's claims. (Doc. No. 22). Defendants' argument is largely based on Collins's failure to timely respond to Defendants' request for admissions, rendering the requests admitted. (Doc. No. 22 ¶ 15). Thus, Defendants assert, because Collins essentially admitted that he has no claim, he cannot establish a prima facie case under the FLSA or the NJWPL. Collins then filed a motion to withdraw and amend his admissions pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(b). (Doc. No. 23). This Court granted that motion on August 22, 2017. (Doc. No. 26). We now turn to consider the issues remaining in Defendants' motion for partial summary judgment.

         II. JURISDICTION

         Collins brings claims under the FLSA and the NJWPL. Accordingly, this Court exercises federal question subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and supplemental jurisdiction over the accompanying state law claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367. Venue is appropriate pursuant to 28 U.S. § 1391.

         III. THE SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate when “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986). A genuine dispute of material fact exists if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could find for the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). When a court weighs the evidence presented by the parties, “[t]he evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.” Id. at 255.

         The burden of establishing the nonexistence of a “genuine issue” is on the party moving for summary judgment. Aman v. Cort Furniture Rental Corp., 85 F.3d 1074, 1080 (3d Cir. 1996). The moving party may satisfy its burden either by “produc[ing] evidence showing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact” or by “‘showing'-that is, pointing out to the district court-that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325 If the party seeking summary judgment makes this showing, it is left to the nonmoving party to “do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Rather, to survive summary judgment, the nonmoving party must “make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of [every] element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. Furthermore, “[w]hen opposing summary judgment, the nonmovant may not rest upon mere allegations, but rather must ‘identify those facts of record which would contradict the facts identified by the movant.'” Corliss v. Varner, 247 F. App'x 353, 354 (3d Cir. 2002)).

         In deciding the merits of a party's motion for summary judgment, the Court's role is not to evaluate the evidence and decide the truth of the matter, but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. Credibility determinations are the province of the fact ...


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