United States District Court, D. Oregon
Talmage Cliff, The Law Office of Scott T. Cliff, Of Attorneys
Christopher Crawford and Carolyn Jennifer Crawford,
Defendants, pro se.
OPINION AND ORDER
Michael H. Simon United States District Judge.
Darren McKenna sues Defendants Walter Christopher Crawford
and Carolynn Jennifer Crawford (“Defendants”) to
recover unpaid wages allegedly owed under the federal Fair
Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206
(“FLSA”), as well as wages and other damages
under Oregon Revised Statutes (“ORS”) Chapters
652 and 653. Before the Court is Plaintiff's motion for
partial summary judgment, seeking: (1) damages for unpaid
wages allegedly owed by Defendants; and (2) dismissal of
Defendants' counterclaims for defamation and slander. A
jury trial is currently scheduled to begin on September 24,
is entitled to summary judgment 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 moving party has the burden of
establishing the absence of a genuine dispute of material
fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323
(1986). The court must view the evidence in the light most
favorable to the non-movant and draw all reasonable
inferences in the non-movant's favor. Clicks
Billiards Inc. v. Sixshooters Inc., 251 F.3d 1252, 1257
(9th Cir. 2001). Although “[c]redibility
determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing
of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions,
not those of a judge . . . ruling on a motion for summary
judgment, ” the “mere existence of a scintilla of
evidence in support of the plaintiff's position [is]
insufficient . . . .” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252, 255 (1986). “Where the
record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of
fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no genuine
issue for trial.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v.
Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (citation
and quotation marks omitted).
own and operate 5C Quick Mart (the “Store”) in
Northeast Portland, Oregon. The parties appear to agree that
Plaintiff worked or at least “helped out” in the
Store between September 2, 2015 and October 13, 2016.
See ECF 33 ¶¶ 1-2 (McKenna Decl.). The
parties dispute, however, whether Plaintiff was ever
Defendants' “employee” and, even if so, how
many hours and on what days Plaintiff worked. Defendants
state that other than the first week and a half after
Defendants opened the Store, Plaintiff worked or helped out
at the Store, on average, only about 35 hours per week and
never on weekends. ECF 32 at 3-4 (Defendants' Response to
Interrogatories). Plaintiff asserts that he worked many more
hours at the Store. ECF 33 ¶¶ 1-2. Plaintiff adds
that he was not ever paid for his work during a 13-month
period. Id. ¶ 3. On November 4, 2016,
Plaintiff, through his counsel, made a written demand for
payment of all back wages allegedly owed, which Defendants
have refused to pay.
their response to summary judgment, Defendants state that
Plaintiff lived with Defendants and that they supported
Plaintiff financially and treated him as a member of their
family for many years. ECF 34 at 1-2 (Defendants'
Response). According to Defendants, when Defendants
opened the Store, Plaintiff “helped out” by
working there in return for Defendants' having taken care
of him for so long. According to Defendants, Plaintiff helped
out in the Store because he “had nothing else to
do” and because Plaintiff knew that it was time for him
to help “support the household.” ECF 34 at
While Plaintiff worked in the Store, Defendants explain,
Plaintiff continued to live in their home, and Defendants
continued to pay Plaintiff's daily living expenses,
including food, utilities, clothing, and cigarettes.
According to Defendants, they never discussed with Plaintiff
paying him any salary or hourly wage, but add that they gave
Plaintiff money during the time that Plaintiff was working in
the Store. ECF 32 at 3.
moves for partial summary judgment, arguing that it is
undisputed that Plaintiff worked at least 35 hours per week
between September 2015 and October 2016 and that he is,
therefore, owed back wages for at least that amount of time.
Plaintiff argues that he is entitled to summary judgment
awarding him minimum wage compensation for these hours, FLSA
liquidated damages, penalty wages, and prejudgment interest.
In response, Defendants, proceeding pro se, argue
that Plaintiff was never their employee, that they gave
Plaintiff room, board, clothing, and money, and that a jury
should decide whether Defendants owe Plaintiff anything
further. Defendants also assert counterclaims, seeking
damages for alleged defamation, slander, emotional distress,
and financial hardship.
Whether Plaintiff Was an “Employee”
is only entitled to recover on his FLSA or state law
employment claims if he was an “employee” of
Defendants. The FLSA provides the following definitions: (1)
“‘Employer' includes any person acting
directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in
relation to an employee . . .”; (2) “Except as
provided in paragraphs (2), (3), and (4) [which do not apply
in this case], the term ‘employee' means any
individual employed by an employer.” 29 U.S.C. §
203. “Employ, ” in turn, “includes to
suffer or permit to work.” 29 U.S.C. § 203(g).
Plaintiff summarily asserts that he was “clearly”
an “employee” for purposes of ...