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Schilling v. Schmidt Baking Company, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

November 17, 2017

RONALD J. SCHILLING, JR.; RUSSELL E. DOLAN; JONATHAN A. HECKER, Individually and On Behalf of Other Similarly Situated Employees, Plaintiffs - Appellants,
v.
SCHMIDT BAKING COMPANY, INC., Defendant-Appellee.

          Argued: September 13, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, at Baltimore. J. Frederick Motz, Senior District Judge. (1:16-cv-02498-JFM)

         ARGUED:

          Benjamin Leon Davis, III, LAW OFFICES OF PETER T. NICHOLL, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellants.

          Anthony Walter Kraus, MILES & STOCKBRIDGE P.C., Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          James A. Lanier, LAW OFFICES OF PETER T. NICHOLL, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellants.

          Kathleen A. Pontone, Amber Jackson, MILES & STOCKBRIDGE P.C., Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellee.

          Before AGEE, KEENAN, and HARRIS, Circuit Judges.

          BARBARA MILANO KEENAN, CIRCUIT JUDGE

         In this appeal, we consider whether the district court erred in dismissing a complaint filed by three individuals against their former employer, Schmidt Baking Company, Inc., under the Fair Labor Standards Act (the FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., the Maryland Wage and Hour Law, Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. Art. § 3-401 et seq., and the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law, Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. Art. § 3-501 et seq. Professional motor carriers, like Schmidt Baking Company, generally are exempt from the FLSA's requirement that employers pay "overtime" wages for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week. However, Congress recently waived this exemption for motor carrier employees whose work, in whole or in part, affects the safety of vehicles weighing 10, 000 pounds or less. Upon our review, we conclude that the plaintiffs fall within the group of employees protected by the above waiver and, thus, are entitled to overtime wages for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week. We therefore reverse the district court's dismissal of the plaintiffs' FLSA claims, but affirm the court's dismissal of the plaintiffs' separate claims brought under Maryland law.

         I.

         The plaintiffs, Ronald Schilling, Russell Dolan, and Jonathan Hecker (collectively, the plaintiffs), worked as district sales managers for the defendant, Schmidt Baking Company, Inc. (Schmidt), for a period of time after 2008. The plaintiffs were nonexempt salaried employees and frequently worked more than 40 hours in a given week. For all hours worked, the plaintiffs were paid at the regular wage rate, and were not paid overtime wages for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week.

         During the plaintiffs' employment, Schmidt provided baked goods to restaurants, grocery stores, and other small businesses across several states in the Mid-Atlantic region. Schmidt entered into contracts with independent operators who executed some of these deliveries. Those contract operators owned or leased "box trucks, " which weighed over 10, 000 pounds, to move the goods throughout the delivery network. Schmidt also maintained a limited number of company vehicles at each of its depots. This fleet included trucks of a variety of sizes, some weighing less and some weighing more than 10, 000 pounds.

         When the various operators were unable to complete their deliveries, the plaintiffs often were required to perform those deliveries. Because of the quantity of deliveries and the limited number of drivers, the plaintiffs spent between 65% and 85% of their time each week making deliveries. The type of vehicles the plaintiffs used to make the deliveries varied according to the delivery requirements of a given day, but the plaintiffs used their personal vehicles for between 70% and 90% of the deliveries they made. Each of the plaintiffs' personal vehicles weighed less than 10, 000 pounds.

         The plaintiffs filed the present federal action under the FLSA, the Maryland Wage and Hour Law (the MWHL), and the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law (the MWPCL). The plaintiffs allege that they were entitled to payment of overtime wages for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week. Schmidt moved to dismiss the complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), or in the alternative, for summary judgment under Rule 56. The ...


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