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Langen v. Sanchez Oil & Gas Corp.

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division

August 21, 2019

KEVIN LANGEN, Individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
SANCHEZ OIL & GAS CORPORATION, Defendant and Third-Party Plaintiff and CRESCENT DRILLING & PRODUCTION, INC., Third-Party Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY F. ATLAS, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court in this breach of contract dispute is Third-Party Defendant Crescent Drilling & Production, Inc.'s (“Crescent”) Sealed Motion for Complete Summary Judgment & Supporting Memorandum of Law (“Motion for Summary Judgment”) [Doc. # 85], and Defendant/Third-Party Plaintiff Sanchez Oil & Gas Corporation's (“SOG”) Expedited Motion to Deny or Defer Briefing on and Consideration of Third-Party Defendant Crescent Drilling & Production, Inc.'s Motion for Summary Judgment (“Motion to Defer Consideration”) [Doc. # 86]. The Court suspended briefing on Crescent's Motion for Summary Judgment.[1] The Motion to Defer Consideration is ripe for decision.[2] Based on the parties' briefing, pertinent matters of record, and relevant legal authority, SOG's Motion to Defer Consideration is granted and Crescent's Motion for Summary Judgment is denied without prejudice to re-urging at the close of discovery.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This lawsuit began as a putative Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) collective action. On August 16, 2018, Kevin Langen, a former consultant engaged by Defendant/Third-Party Plaintiff SOG through Third-Party Defendant Crescent, sued SOG to recover unpaid overtime wages.[3]

         On September 14, 2018, SOG filed a third-party complaint against Crescent, asserting claims for indemnification and breach of contract under a Master Service Agreement (“MSA”)[4] between the SOG and Crescent.[5] SOG alleges that it did not contract directly with Langen for his services, but instead contracted with Crescent for Langen's services pursuant to the MSA. Under the MSA, Crescent agreed to comply with the FLSA with respect to services it provided to SOG and agreed “to protect, defend, indemnify, and hold harmless [SOG] from any and all claims resulting from [Crescent's] breach” of its covenant.[6] SOG alleges that Crescent breached the MSA by not complying with the FLSA with respect to Langen's compensation and must defend and indemnify SOG against Langen's FLSA claim. On February 1, 2019, the Court approved a confidential settlement between SOG and Langen, dismissing Langen's claim with prejudice and dismissing Langen from the lawsuit.[7]

         On February 14, 2019, the Court entered a Docket Control Order, setting a discovery deadline for October 15, 2019, and a dispositive motions deadline for November 12, 2019.[8]

         On July 17, 2019, Crescent moved for summary judgment dismissal of SOG's claims. Crescent contends Langen was not an employee of Crescent, and Crescent therefore did not violate the FLSA by not paying Langen overtime. Because Crescent only agreed under the MSA to indemnify SOG for claims arising from Crescent's FLSA violations, Crescent argues it has no duty to indemnify SOG against Langen's claim. Crescent's argument that Langen was not its employee relies extensively upon declarations from Kevin Langen and Leslie Ligori, Crescent's Vice President of Well-Site Supervision.[9]

         SOG seeks deferral of consideration of Crescent's Motion for Summary Judgment. SOG contends that deferral will enable it to take the deposition of Langen, Ligori, Crescent's corporate representative as well as Jackie Tunstall, Crescent's Project Coordinator, and Scott McDonald, Crescent's CEO. SOG asserts the deposition of these persons will create a genuine issue of material fact over whether Langen was Crescent's employee.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d) “provides the process for a nonmovant to request a district court to withhold its decision on summary judgment.” Meadows v. Latshaw Drilling Co., L.L.C., 866 F.3d 307, 313 (5th Cir. 2017). To invoke Rule 56(d), a nonmovant must show “by affidavit or declaration that, for specified reasons, it cannot present facts essential to justify its opposition” to the summary judgment motion. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(d). If satisfied by the nonmovant's showing, the district court may, “(1) defer considering the motion or deny it; (2) allow time to obtain affidavits or declarations or to take discovery; or (3) issue any other appropriate order.” Id.

         “While Rule 56(d) motions for additional discovery are broadly favored and should be liberally granted, the party filing the motion must demonstrate how additional discovery will create a genuine issue of material fact.” Jacked Up, L.L.C. v. Sara Lee Corp., 854 F.3d 797, 816 (5th Cir. 2017) (quoting Smith v. Reg'l Transit Auth., 827 F.3d 412, 422-23 (5th Cir. 2016)). “[T]he non-moving party must ‘set forth a plausible basis for believing that specified facts, susceptible of collection within a reasonable time frame, probably exist and indicate how the emergent facts, if adduced, will influence the outcome of the pending summary judgment motion.'” Am. Family Life Assur. Co. of Columbus v. Biles, 714 F.3d 887, 894 (5th Cir. 2013) (quoting Raby v. Livingston, 600 F.3d 552, 561 (5th Cir. 2010)). “The nonmovant may not simply rely on vague assertions that discovery will produce needed, but unspecified, facts.” Smith, 827 F.3d at 423 (quoting Washington v. Allstate Ins. Co., 901 F.2d 1281, 1285 (5th Cir. 1990)). The non-movant “must also have ‘diligently pursued discovery.'” Jacked Up, L.L.C., 854 F.3d at 816 (quoting McKay v. Novartis Pharm. Corp., 751 F.3d 694, 700 (5th Cir. 2014)).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Crescent contends the Court should not defer consideration of its Motion for Summary Judgment for two reasons. First, Crescent argues SOG has not diligently pursued discovery. Second, Crescent asserts that SOG's requested depositions will not generate a genuine dispute over whether Langen was Crescent's employee within the meaning of the FLSA.

         The Court is unpersuaded by Crescent's arguments. The record evidence before the Court reveals that SOG was reasonably diligent in pursuing discovery. Moreover, SOG demonstrates that deposing Langen and Crescent's corporate officers may produce a genuine issue of material fact over whether Langen was Crescent's employee. Accordingly, the Court will grant ...


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