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Margulies v. TRI-County Metropolitan Transportation District

United States District Court, D. Oregon

September 8, 2014

ALLEN MARGULIES, JOHN OLSEN, and STEPHEN FUNG, individually, and CHRISTOPHER DAY and THOMAS GOLDHAMMER, individually and as class representatives, Plaintiffs,
v.
TRI-COUNTY METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION DISTRICT OF OREGON, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

PAUL PAPAK, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiffs filed the instant action against defendant Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon ("TriMet"), alleging that TriMet engages in a pattern or practice of failing to pay its bus and train operators for all compensable work, including overtime pay, in violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") and Oregon law. Now before the court is TriMet's motion for partial summary judgment (#120). For the reasons discussed below, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

On December 19, 2012, plaintiff Allen Margulies sent a letter to TriMet, indicating that he intended to file a lawsuit "on behalf of all current employees and former employees of TriMet" due to TriMet's failure to compensate its employees for all hours worked and its failure to pay overtime wages. Ex. A, Declaration of Joel B. Young ("Young Decl."), #124-1, at 1-9. The caption of the letter states that it is a notice of a class action pursuant to Oregon Rule of Civil Procedure 32H. Id at 1. On January 14, 2013, plaintiffs Stephen Fung and Christopher Day also sent TriMet a notice of their intent to file an action "on behalf of all current and former employees of TriMet." Ex. C, Young Decl., #124-1, at 1-9. Like Margulies's letter, Fung and Day cited TriMet's failure to compensate its employees for all hours worked and its failure to pay overtime wages as the basis of the class action. Id On January 17, 2013, TriMet responded to both letters, stating that, as public employees, Margulies, Fung, and Day were subject to a collective-bargaining agreement, which governed the wage issues raised in the letters. Ex. B, Young Decl., #124-1, at 1; Ex. D, Young Decl., #124-1, at 1.

Thereafter, on January 22, 2013, Margulies filed an action against TriMet in the Circuit Court for the County of Multnomah, alleging various claims under the FLSA and Oregon law on behalf of himself and "all other similarly situated individuals currently and/or formerly employed by" TriMet. Ex. 3, Declaration of Jennifer Goodrich ("Goodrich Decl."), #122-3, at 1. On February 15, 2013, Margulies filed an amended complaint in the Circuit Court for the County of Multnomah, adding Day and John Olsen as named plaintiffs. Ex. 4, Goodrich Decl., #122-4, at 1. On February 21, 2013, plaintiffs served TriMet with a copy of the complaint and the amended complaint. Ex. 5, Goodrich Decl., #122-5, at 1-3.

TriMet subsequently removed the case to this court on the basis of federal-question and supplemental jurisdiction. Notice of Removal, #1, at 1-5. Plaintiffs filed their second amended complaint on June 17, 2013, alleging that TriMet fails to pay bus and train operators for: "(1) non-commute travel time between disparate start and end points of operators' scheduled runs, (2) the differential between scheduled run times and actual run times, (3) pre-departure time, (4) mandatory meetings with supervisors, (5) mandatory medical examinations, and [(6)] any applicable overtime due for such compensable time." Second Amended Complaint, #18, ¶ 4. Plaintiffs allege claims under the FLSA (Claim I); Oregon's minimum-wage law, Oregon Revised Statute ("ORS") § 653.025 (Claim II); Oregon's overtime-pay law, ORS § 653.268 (Claim III); and Oregon's timely-wage-pay law, ORS § 652.120 (Claim IV). Plaintiffs further allege that TriMet's violation of Oregon law was willful, in violation of ORS § 652.140 (Claim V).

On October 10, 2013, the court granted TriMet's first motion for partial summary judgment and dismissed plaintiff-bus operators' FLSA claims. October 10, 2013 Opinion and Order, #61, at 40. The court also granted plaintiffs' motion to conditionally certify the action as a representative collective action under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). Id To date, 458 plaintiffs have opted to join the action, including the five named plaintiffs.[1] On January 22, 2014, the court granted the parties' stipulated motion to dismiss the minimum-wage claims. See January 22, 2014 Minute Order, #108. Thus, the following claims remain:(1) plaintiff-train operators' FLSA and state-law overtime and untimely-wage-pay claims; and (2) plaintiff-bus operators' state-law overtime and untimely-wage-pay claims.

On April 4, 2014, TriMet filed the instant motion for partial summary judgment, seeking summary judgment in its favor on ninety-three plaintiffs' state-law claims. See TriMet's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, #120. On April 28, 2014, plaintiffs filed their resistance. See Plaintiffs' Resistance, #124. On June 12, 2014, TriMet filed its reply in support of the motion for partial summary judgment. See TriMet's Reply, #127. The court heard oral argument on the motion on June 25, 2014. The matter is fully submitted and ready for decision.

LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, "show[] 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). Summary judgment is not proper if material factual issues exist for trial. See, e.g., Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986); Warren v. City of Carlsbad, 58 F.3d 439, 441 (9th Cir. 1995). The substantive law governing a claim or defense determines whether a fact is material. See Moreland v. Las Vegas Metro. Police Dep't, 159 F.3d 365, 369 (9th Cir. 1998). In evaluating a motion for summary judgment, the district courts of the United States must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party and may neither make credibility determinations nor perform any weighing of the evidence. See, e.g., Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000); Lytle v. Household Mfg., Inc., 494 U.S. 545, 554-55 (1990).

DISCUSSION

TriMet seeks summary judgment on ninety-three plaintiffs' state-law claims. TriMet contends that summary judgment is appropriate because these plaintiffs did not provide timely notice of their claims as required by the Oregon Tort Claims Act ("OTCA"). Plaintiffs respond that their claims are not "torts" within the meaning of the OTCA and, even if they were, the ninety-three plaintiffs at issue provided the requisite notice by virtue of Margulies's December 19, 2012 letter to TriMet. I begin by reviewing the relevant provisions of the OTCA before addressing the central questions at issue-that is, whether plaintiffs' claims are torts subject to the OTCA's requirements and, if so, whether the ninety-three plaintiffs TriMet identifies in its motion complied with the OTCA's notice provision.

I. OTCA's Framework

A plaintiff filing a tort claim against a public body must comply with the provisions of the OTCA. See ORS§ 30.265(1). For purposes ...


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