Pearson v. Colt Oilfield Services, LLC et al

Western District of Texas, txwd-5:2018-cv-01029

First Amended ANSWER to {{16}} Amended Complaint with Jury Demand by Roy E Aguilar, Colt Oilfield Services, LLC.

Interested in this case?

Current View

Full Text

3 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS SAN ANTONIO DIVISION DOUGLAS PEARSON, JAMES ADKINS, § and on all others similarly situated, § PLAINTIFFS, § § V. § CIVIL ACTION 5:18-CV-01029-OLG § JURY TRIAL DEMANDED COLT OILFIELD SERVICES, LLC, § AND ROY (EDDIE) AGUILAR, § DEFENDANTS. § DEFENDANTS' FIRST AMENDED ANSWER AND AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES TO PLAINTIFFS' SECOND AMENDED CLASS AND COLLECTIVE ACTION COMPLAINT TO THE HONORABLE CHIEF JUDGE ORLANDO GARCIA: COME NOW Colt Oilfield Services, LLC ("Colt") and Roy (Eddie) Aguilar ("Aguilar") (collectively "Defendants"), Defendants in the above-styled and numbered cause, and file their First Amended Answer and Affirmative Defenses to Plaintiffs' Second Amended Class and Collective Action Complaint ("Second Amended Complaint"), and respectfully show the Court the following: FIRST AMENDED ANSWER I. SUMMARY 1. Defendants admit that they provided Plaintiffs with written consent to file their Second Amended Complaint, but deny violating any laws that support a claim for relief by Plaintiffs. Except as expressly admitted, Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph I. 1 of the Second Amended Complaint. Defendants' First Amended Answer and Affirmative Defenses 1 3 2. Defendants acknowledge that Plaintiffs assert that this cause of action is brought to recover overtime wages, pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201, et. seq. and the New Mexico Minimum Wage Act, N.M. Stat. Ann. § 50-4-22(D) ("NMWA"), but deny violating any laws that support a claim for relief by Plaintiffs. 2.1 Defendants admit that their business consists of providing customers with the delivery and operation of oilfield equipment at customer well sites in Texas, New Mexico, and other oil- producing regions throughout the United States. 3. Defendants admit that Plaintiff Douglas Pearson ("Pearson") was employed by Colt in a non-supervisory position. Defendants deny that Pearson was employed by Aguilar. Defendants admit that Plaintiff James Adkins ("Adkins") was employed by Colt in a non-supervisory position. Defendants deny that Adkins was employed by Aguilar. Defendants lack sufficient information to admit or deny whether the potential class members were employed by Defendants and whether these potential class members performed a particular type of service for Defendants' customers. 4. Defendants admit the allegations in Paragraph I. 4 of the Second Amended Complaint, as they pertain to the named Plaintiffs, Pearson and Adkins. Defendants lack sufficient information to admit or deny the allegations in Paragraph I. 4 of the Second Amended Complaint as they pertain to potential class members. 5. Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph I. 5 of the Second Amended Complaint. 6. Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph I. 6 of the Second Amended Complaint. II. PARTIES 3.2 Defendants adopt by reference each and every defense and denial stated in this First Amended Answer as if fully and completely set forth herein. 1 Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint is numbered this way. 2 Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint is numbered this way. Defendants' First Amended Answer and Affirmative Defenses 2 3 4. Defendants admit the allegations in Paragraph II. 4 of the Second Amended Complaint. 5. Defendants admit the allegations in Paragraph II. 5 of the Second Amended Complaint. 6. Defendants lack sufficient information to admit or deny the allegations in Paragraph II. 6 of the Second Amended Complaint. 7. Defendants are not required to respond to the allegations in Paragraph II. 7 of the Second Amended Complaint; however, to the extents said paragraph asserts allegations, Defendants deny each and every allegation contained therein. Defendants further deny that Plaintiffs are entitled to the relief referenced therein. 8. Defendants admit the allegations in Paragraph II. 8 of the Second Amended Complaint. 9. Defendants admit the allegations in Paragraph II. 9 of the Second Amended Complaint. III. JURISDICTION AND VENUE 10. Defendants admit the allegations in Paragraph III. 10 of the Second Amended Complaint. 11 Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph III. 11 of the Second Amended Complaint. 12. Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph III. 12 of the Second Amended Complaint. IV. COVERAGE 13. Defendants admit that Colt has acted in the interest of an employer with respect to the named Plaintiffs, Pearson and Adkins. Defendants lack sufficient information to admit or deny whether any of the Defendants acted as an employer to the potential class members, as alleged in Paragraph IV. 13 of the Second Amended Complaint. 14. Defendants deny that Aguilar has been an employer and/or joint employer with respect to the named Plaintiffs, Pearson and Adkins. Defendants admit that Colt has been an employer with respect to the named Plaintiffs, Pearson and Adkins. Defendants lack sufficient information to admit or deny whether any of the Defendants acted as an employer to the potential class members as alleged in Paragraph IV. 14 of the Second Amended Complaint. Defendants' First Amended Answer and Affirmative Defenses 3 3 15. Defendants admit the allegations in Paragraph IV. 15 of the Second Amended Complaint. 16. Defendants admit the allegations in Paragraph IV. 16 of the Second Amended Complaint. 17. Defendants admit the allegations in Paragraph IV. 17 of the Second Amended Complaint, to the extent that the allegations relate to the named Plaintiffs, Pearson and Adkins. Defendants lack sufficient information to admit or deny the allegations in Paragraph IV. 17 of the Second Amended Complaint as they relate to potential class members. V. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS 18. Defendants adopt by reference each and every defense and denial stated in this First Amended Answer as if fully and completely set forth herein. 19. Defendants admit the allegations in Paragraph V. 19 of the Second Amended Complaint. 20. Defendants admit that Aguilar was the owner and managing member of Colt. Defendants deny that Aguilar has joint employer liability. Except as expressly admitted, Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph V. 20 of the Second Amended Complaint. 21. Defendants admit that Plaintiff Pearson was employed by Colt. 22. Defendants admit that Plaintiff Adkins worked for Colt. Defendants admit that Colt's employment records show Adkins' employment began February 27, 2017 and continued to March 21, 2018. Except as expressly admitted, Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph V. 22 of the Second Amended Complaint. 23. Defendants admit the allegations in Paragraph V. 23 of the Second Amended Complaint to the extent that the allegations relate to the named Plaintiffs, Pearson and Adkins. Defendants lack sufficient information to admit or deny the allegations in Paragraph V. 23 of the Second Amended Complaint as they relate to potential class members. Defendants' First Amended Answer and Affirmative Defenses 4 3 24. Defendants admit the allegations in Paragraph V. 24 of the Second Amended Complaint to the extent that the allegations relate to the named Plaintiffs, Pearson and Adkins. Defendants lack sufficient information to admit or deny the allegations in Paragraph V. 24 of the Second Amended Complaint as they relate to potential class members. 25. Defendants admit the allegations in Paragraph V. 25 of the Second Amended Complaint to the extent that the allegations relate to the named Plaintiffs, Pearson and Adkins. Defendants lack sufficient information to admit or deny the allegations in Paragraph V. 25 of the Second Amended Complaint as they related to potential class members. 26. Defendants admit the allegations in Paragraph V. 26 of the Second Amended Complaint to the extent that the allegations relate to the named Plaintiffs, Pearson and Adkins. Defendants lack sufficient information to admit or deny the allegations in Paragraph V. 26 of the Second Amended Complaint as they related to potential class members. 27. Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph V. 27 of the Second Amended Complaint. 28. Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph V. 28 of the Second Amended Complaint. 29. Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph V. 29 of the Second Amended Complaint. 30. Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph V. 30 of the Second Amended Complaint. 31. Defendants admit the allegations in Paragraph V. 31 of the Second Amended Complaint as they relate to the named Plaintiffs, Pearson and Adkins. Defendants lack sufficient information to admit or deny the allegations in Paragraph V. 31 of the Second Amended Complaint as they relate to potential class members. 32. Defendants admit that the named Plaintiff, Pearson and Adkins, sometimes worked over 40 hours per week during their employment. Defendants lack sufficient information to admit or deny the allegations in Paragraph V. 32 of the Second Amended Complaint as they relate to potential class members. Defendants' First Amended Answer and Affirmative Defenses 5 3 33. Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph V. 33 of the Second Amended Complaint. 34. Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph V. 34 of the Second Amended Complaint. 35. Defendants admit that they were aware that the named Plaintiffs, Pearson and Adkins, sometimes worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek. Defendants lack sufficient information to admit or deny the allegations in Paragraph V. 35 of the Second Amended Complaint as they relate to potential class members. 36. Defendants admit that Plaintiffs Pearson and Adkins were entitled to, and did receive, compensation for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours per workweek. Except as expressly admitted, Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph V. 36 of the Second Amended Complaint. 37. Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph V. 37 of the Second Amended Complaint. VI. COLLECTIVE AND CLASS ALLEGATIONS 38. Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph VI. 38 of the Second Amended Complaint. 39. Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph VI. 39 of the Second Amended Complaint. 40. Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph VI. 40 of the Second Amended Complaint. 41. Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph VI. 41 of the Second Amended Complaint. 42. Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph VI. 42 of the Second Amended Complaint. 43. Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph VI. 43 of the Second Amended Complaint. 44. Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph VI. 44 of the Second Amended Complaint. 45. Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph VI. 45 of the Second Amended Complaint. 46. Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph VI. 46 of the Second Amended Complaint. 47. Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph VI. 47 of the Second Amended Complaint. 48. Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph VI. 48 of the Second Amended Complaint. 49. Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph VI. 49 of the Second Amended Complaint. Defendants' First Amended Answer and Affirmative Defenses 6 3 VII. COUNT ONE: FAIULRE TO PAY WAGES IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FAIR LABOR STANDARDS ACT 50. Defendants adopt by reference each and every defense and denial stated in this First Amended Answer as if fully and completely set forth herein. 51. Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph VII. 51 of the Second Amended Complaint. 52. Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph VII. 52 of the Second Amended Complaint. VIII. COUNT TWO: VIOLATION OF THE NEW MEXICAL WAGE LAW 53. Defendants adopt by reference each and every defense and denial stated in this First Amended Answer as if fully and completely set forth herein. 54. Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph VIII. 54 of the Second Amended Complaint. 55. Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph VIII. 55 of the Second Amended Complaint. 56. Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph VIII. 56 of the Second Amended Complaint. 57. Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph VIII. 57 of the Second Amended Complaint. 58. Defendants deny the allegations in Paragraph VIII. 58 of the Second Amended Complaint. 59. Defendants are not required to respond to Plaintiffs' Prayer. However, to the extent the Prayer asserts allegations, Defendants deny each and every allegation contained therein. Defendants further deny that Plaintiffs are entitled to any of the relief listed therein. AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES Defendants hereby assert the following affirmative and additional defenses to Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint, but do not assume the burden of proof or persuasion on any such defenses, except as required by applicable law with respect to the particular defense asserted. Moreover, Defendants do not admit any liability in asserting the following defenses and other matters; rather, Defendants specifically deny any and all allegations of liability in the Second Amended Complaint. Defendants further assert that they will rely upon all proper defenses legally available that may be disclosed by the evidence and reserves the right to amend this First Defendants' First Amended Answer and Affirmative Defenses 7 3 Amended Answer to state such defenses. Without admitting liability to Plaintiffs' causes of action, Defendants state: 1. Plaintiffs have failed to state claims upon which relief can be granted. This defense also applies to the claims of some or all of the class of allegedly similarly situated employees. 2. Plaintiffs' and the putative class members' claims for collective relief are barred to the extent that they did not work more than 40 hours in any given workweek and therefore would not be entitled to overtime under the FLSA or other applicable law. 3. Plaintiffs' claims are barred because the work performed falls within exemptions, exclusions, exceptions, or credits provided for in the FLSA. Specifically, Defendants affirmatively plead that Plaintiffs are exempt from the FLSA under the Motor Carrier Exemption found in section 13(b)(1) of the FLSA; the administrative exemption; and/or the highly compensated employee exemption. This defense also applies to the claims of some or all of the class of allegedly similarly situated employees. 4. Defendants affirmatively plead that, for any cause of action or claim that falls outside the applicable statute of limitations, Plaintiffs are barred from recovery. This defense also applies to the claims of some or all of the class of allegedly similarly situated employees. 5. Defendants affirmatively plead that Plaintiffs' claims should be dismissed because all amounts owed by Defendant to Plaintiff have been paid or otherwise satisfied. This defense also applies to the claims of some or all of the class of allegedly similarly situated employees. 6. Defendants affirmatively plead that, to the extent Plaintiffs seek liquidated damages or penalties, such claims are precluded by Defendants' good faith efforts to comply with the law, and that Defendants had reasonable grounds to believe that their actions and/or omissions with respect to Plaintiffs were in compliance with all applicable federal and state law. Defendants' First Amended Answer and Affirmative Defenses 8 3 This defense also applies to the claims of some or all of the class of allegedly similarly situated employees. 7. Defendants affirmatively plead that Plaintiffs' claims under the FLSA, including, but not limited to those based on events outside a two-year statute of limitations are barred, in whole or in part, because any conduct of Defendants was not willful. This defense also applies to the claims of some or all of the class of allegedly similarly situated employees. 8. Defendants made reasonable, good-faith efforts to comply with, and not violate, the FLSA, the New Mexico Minimum Wage Act ("MWA"), or other applicable law; any alleged violations were not willful; Defendants acted in good faith and with reasonable grounds for believing that its actions or inactions were not in violation of the FLSA, the MWA, or any other applicable law; and any act or omission was in good-faith compliance with and in reliance upon applicable law, administrative regulations, orders, interpretations and/or administrative practice or policy enforcement pursuant to 29 U.S.C. §§258, 259, or other applicable authority. 9. Plaintiffs' claims against Defendants are barred to the extent that Plaintiffs have no employment relationship with a particular defendant. This defense also applies to the claims of some or all of the class of allegedly similarly situated employees. 10. Defendant Aguilar is not an employer of Plaintiffs as that term is defined by the FLSA and/or the MWA, and as such is not a proper party to this action and all claims against him should be dismissed. This defense also applies to the claims of some or all of the class of allegedly similarly situated employees. 11. Even assuming, arguendo, that Defendants had in fact failed to properly pay individuals as alleged in Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint, such activities do not constitute compensable work under the FLSA or MWA, and furthermore, such activities were not an integral and indispensable part of Plaintiffs' principal activities of employment and are not Defendants' First Amended Answer and Affirmative Defenses 9 3 compensable. This defense also applies to the claims of some or all of the class of allegedly similarly situated employees. 12. Plaintiffs' claims are barred, in whole or in part, by the provisions of Section 4 of the Portal-to-Portal Act, 29 U.S.C. §, as to all hours during which Plaintiffs were engaged in activities that were preliminary or postliminary to their principal activities or incidental to them. This defense also applies to the claims of some or all of the class of allegedly similarly situated employees. 13. Even assuming, arguendo, that Defendants violated the FLSA, the MWA or other applicable law, any alleged violation would be subject to the de minimus doctrine. 14. The entire Second Amended Complaint seeking class-wide relief must be dismissed, as Plaintiffs cannot satisfy the requirements for maintenance of a collective action under Section 216 of the FLSA, or otherwise. The named Plaintiffs are not similarly situated to or otherwise an adequate representative of those who are similarly situated to Plaintiffs, as that term is defined and/or interpreted under the FLSA, 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). 15. This action should not be certified or maintained as a class action. Specifically, Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint fails to state facts sufficient to establish an ascertainable class. Moreover, some or all of the claims alleged by Plaintiffs are neither common to nor typical of those, if any, of the alleged "class" of individual plaintiffs they purport to represent, the existence of which is expressly denied. Furthermore, Plaintiffs are an inadequate representative of some or all of the members of the alleged "class" of individuals plaintiffs they purport to represent, the existence of which is expressly denied. 16. The damages claimed by Plaintiffs and members of the alleged "class" of individuals plaintiffs they purport to represent, the existence of which is expressly denied, are barred because they are speculative and remote. Defendants' First Amended Answer and Affirmative Defenses 10 3 17. Certain of the interests of Plaintiffs and members of the alleged "class" of individuals plaintiffs are in conflict with the interests of some or all of the members of the alleged "class" of individual plaintiffs they purport to represent, the existence of which is expressly denied. 18. Plaintiffs have failed to mitigate their damages. This defense also applies to the claims of some or all of the class of allegedly similarly situated employees. 19. Plaintiffs' claims are barred by the doctrine of laches. This defense also applies to the claims of some or all of the class of allegedly similarly situated employees. 20. Plaintiffs were properly classified under the New Mexico law and were paid all compensation owed to them. This defense also applies to the claims of some or all of the class of allegedly similarly situated employees. 21. Although Defendants deny that Plaintiffs are entitled to overtime, if Plaintiffs are entitled to any overtime, they would be entitled to an overtime premium only, as their salary was intended to compensate them for all hours worked during a workweek. This defense also applies to the claims of some or all of the class of allegedly similarly situated employees. 22. Defendants are entitled to the damage caps and limitations available under the FLSA, the MWA, the U.S. Constitution, the New Mexico Constitution, and any other applicable law. 23. Plaintiffs are exempt from the overtime and wage requirements of the NWA under N.M. Stat. Ann. §50-4-21. This defense also applies to the claims of some or all of the class of allegedly similarly situated employees. 24. Defendants are entitled to an offset of any amount of relief claimed by Plaintiffs based on compensation previously paid by Defendants to Plaintiffs. This defense also applies to the claims of some or all of the class of allegedly similarly situated employees. Defendants' First Amended Answer and Affirmative Defenses 11 3 25. Defendants reserve the right to plead additional defenses should the grounds for those defenses become apparent during the litigation of this case. PRAYER WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, Defendants Colt Oilfield Services, LLC, and Roy (Eddie) Aguilar pray that the Court enter judgment dismissing all relief requested by Plaintiffs with prejudice; that the Court enter judgment in Defendants' favor and against Plaintiffs on all counts; and that the Court award Defendants their costs and attorneys' fees incurred in defending this action and for such other relief to which they are justly entitled. Respectfully submitted, /S/MELISSA MORALES FLETCHER Melissa Morales Fletcher, Of Counsel State Bar No. 24007702 Email: Melissa@themoralesfirm.com THE MORALES FIRM, P.C. 6243 IH-10 West, Suite 132 San Antonio, Texas 78201 Telephone: (210) 225-0811 Facsimile: (210) 225-0821 GOODE CASSEB JONES RIKLIN CHOATE & WATSON, P.C. 2122 North Main Avenue San Antonio, Texas 78212 Tel: (210) 733-6030 Fax: (210) 733-0330 Kyle C. Watson State Bar No. 20971100 Email: watson@goodelaw.com Jenna C. Castleman State Bar No. 24105583 Email: castleman@goodelaw.com ATTORNEYS FOR DEFENDANTS COLT OILFIELD SERVICES, LLC AND ROY (EDDIE) AGUILAR Defendants' First Amended Answer and Affirmative Defenses 12 3 CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE I do hereby certify that on December 11, 2018, I electronically filed the foregoing with the Clerk of the Court using the CM-ECF system, which will send notification of such filing to the following: Jack Siegel Siegel Law Group, PLLC 2820 McKinnon, Suite 5009 Dallas, Texas 75201 /s/ Melissa Morales Fletcher Melissa Morales Fletcher Defendants' First Amended Answer and Affirmative Defenses 13