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Houlihan v. FTS International Services LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division

December 15, 2017

STEPHEN JASON HOULIHAN, ET AL., Plaintiffs,
v.
FTS INTERNATIONAL SERVICES, LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN MCBRYDE, DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the court for consideration and decision is the motion for partial summary judgment filed by defendant, FTS International Services, LLC, in the above-captioned action, wherein defendant seeks summary judgment on all of the claims of plaintiff Stephen Jason Houlihan ("Houlihan") against it. Having considered the motion, Houlihan's response, the reply, the entire summary judgment record, and applicable legal authorities, the court finds that the motion should be granted.

         I.

         Background

         Plaintiff Houlihan initiated this action on February 2, 2017, by the filing of an original complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division. The above-captioned action was originally assigned to the docket of Judge Ed Kinkeade. On February 22, 2017, Judge Kinkeade transferred the action to the Fort Worth Division of the Northern District of Texas, where it was assigned to the docket of the undersigned. On February 27, 2017, a document titled "First Amended Complaint With Jury Demand" was filed, naming John Sample ("Sample") .as a second plaintiff to the action. On March 8, 2017, an attempt was made at filing a document titled "Second Amended Complaint with Jury Demand" wherein Houlihan and Sample attempted to add a third plaintiff, Carl Lewis ("Lewis"), to their above-captioned action, but such document was unfiled and stricken from the record for failure to comply with Rule 15(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and due to the court's observation that plaintiffs had not followed the appropriate procedures, as laid out by § 216(b) of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), for adding additional plaintiffs to the present action. Then, on April 11, 2017, in an attempt to cure the deficiencies noted in the March 9, 2017 order, and to comply with the requirements of § 216(b), Houlihan, Sample, and Lewis filed with the court their consents to become party plaintiffs, as required under § 216(b), as well as a motion for leave to file a second amended complaint, which named Lewis as a third plaintiff. Before a decision was reached on plaintiffs' motion to file their second amended complaint, plaintiffs filed an unopposed motion for severance, requesting that the court sever the claims of each individual plaintiff against defendant into separate actions. On April 24, 2017, the parties filed their Joint Status Report, which stated that the earlier motion for leave to file a second amended complaint was mooted. On April 25, 2017, the court declined plaintiffs' request to sever the claims of each defendant into a separate action, and further denied plaintiffs' motion for leave to file a second amended complaint naming Lewis as a third plaintiff. On October 20, 2017, defendant filed the motion for summary judgment now under consideration.

         II.

         Plaintiffs' Claims

         Plaintiffs' live pleading is their first amended complaint, in which they asserted that defendant is liable to both of them under Section 216(b) of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), for unpaid overtime compensation, as well as liquidated damages, prejudgment interest, and attorneys' fees, expenses, and costs of court. Doc. 8[1] at 3.

         III.

         Grounds of the Motion

         As to the claims of Houlihan, defendant contends that summary judgment is warranted for three reasons: (1) Houlihan signed a collective action waiver that requires him to bring any action against defendant on an individual basis, and therefore, he cannot be a party to this action; (2) defendant properly-categorized Houlihan as an exempt employee, and as a result of such categorization, Houlihan is not entitled to the overtime compensation he seeks; and (3) "in the event [defendant] is found after a trial on the merits to have misclassified Houlihan, the fluctuating workweek method applies to determine any overtime compensation owed to him." Doc. 27 at 2. Defendant does not seek summary judgment on Sample's claims against it.

         VI.

         Undisputed Facts

         The' following is an overview of evidence pertinent to the motion for summary judgment that is undisputed in the summary judgment record.

         Defendant is an oilfield services company providing well-completion services, including performing hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells and delivering sand to be used in the process to oil and gas drill sites. Doc. 3 9 at 6. Houlihan was employed by defendant as a logistics coordinator from June 2011 until October 2016. Id. at 7. His primary job responsibility in that role was coordinating and dispatching trucks carrying sand used for hydraulic fracturing to and from oil and gas drill sites, some of which were driven by employees of. defendant and others of which were driven "by employees of third-party carriers. Id., at 6. From the time he was hired until March of ...


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