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Keith Coffin, et al v. Blessey Marine Services

June 6, 2011

KEITH COFFIN, ET AL.,
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
BLESSEY MARINE SERVICES, INC.,
DEFENDANT.



MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This case is before the Court on "Plaintiff's Motion to Strike BMSI's Legally Invalid Waiver, Estoppel, Failure to Mitigate, and Laches Defenses and Notice Regarding BMSI's Administrative and Professional Employee Exemption Defenses" [Doc. # 20] ("Motion to Strike"), to which Defendant has responded in opposition [Doc. # 25]. Plaintiff did not file a reply and the deadline for doing so has passed. Having reviewed the record as a whole and applicable legal authorities, the Court grants in part and denies in part Plaintiff's Motion to Strike.

Factual Background.-- This is a collective action suit seeking unpaid overtime wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. Plaintiffs were employed as "Tankermen" for Defendant Blessey Marine Services, Inc. ("BMSI" or "Defendant"), which operates towboats that transport barges filled with liquid cargo throughout the navigable inland waterways of the United States.

Plaintiffs allege that BMSI misclassified Plaintiffs and their fellow Tankermen as exempt under the FLSA's "seamen" exemption, 29 U.S.C. § 213(b)(6). As a result, Plaintiffs allege that Defendant deprived them all of the overtime pay to which they are entitled under the FLSA. Plaintiffs seek to represent a class under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) on behalf of "all current and former Tankermen who were employed by BMSI during the three-year period preceding the filing of this complaint."*fn1

On March 4, 2011, BMSI filed its Answer in this case [Doc. # 8], asserting various affirmative defenses. Plaintiffs now move to strike several of those defenses. Plaintiffs argue that Defendant's waiver, estoppel, failure to mitigate, and laches defenses (listed inter alia in Defendant's Thirteenth Affirmative Defense)*fn2 are legally invalid in an FLSA case. Plaintiffs also argue that Defendant's Third and Fourth Affirmative Defenses based on the administrative and professional employee exemptions to the FLSA*fn3 should ...


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