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Martinez v. Asian 328, LLC

United States District Court, District of Columbia

September 6, 2016

EDUARDO DUBON MARTINEZ et al. Plaintiffs,
v.
ASIAN 328, LLC et al. Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          G. MICHAEL HARVEY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment. The motion asks the Court to rule that, as a matter of law, Defendant Ling Zheng was Plaintiffs' “employer” for purposes of their claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq., and the District of Columbia Wage Payment and Collection Law (“DCWPCL”), D.C. Code § 32-1301 et seq. Upon consideration of the parties' briefs and the entire record herein, [1] the Court will grant the motion in part and deny it in part.

         BACKGROUND

         A. Defendant's Response to Plaintiffs' Motion

         As in every motion for summary judgment, Plaintiffs, the movants here, submitted a statement of material facts which they claim support the entry of partial summary judgment against Defendants. See Pl. Mot., Statement of Material Facts (“SOF”) [Dkt. 58-1]. In their opposition, Defendants attached a “Statement of Genuine Issues of a Material Fact That Are in Dispute.” Opp. at 3.[2] The one-page document contains three numbered paragraphs which Defendants claim explain the facts in dispute in this case that prevent the entry of partial summary judgment at this time. See Id. Those three disputes of fact are, in Defendants' view:

(1) Whether the Defendants were involved in interstate commerce, during the times alleged in the Plaintiffs' complaint.
(2) Whether the Defendants had $500, 000.00, in gross annual business, during the times alleged in the Plaintiffs' complaint.
(3) Whether all of the Plaintiffs were employed, with the Defendants, during the times alleged in their complaint.

Id. None of these paragraphs cite to any evidence whatsoever.

         By failing to address Plaintiffs' asserted statements of material fact, and by failing to provide any evidence whatsoever supporting their own purported disputes of fact, Defendants have conceded each and every fact asserted by Plaintiffs. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e) (failing to properly address a fact permits the court to find that the fact is undisputed for purposes of the summary-judgment motion); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1) (requiring the party opposing summary judgment to provide citations to record evidence supporting their asserted disputes of fact); L. Civ. R. 7(h) (“In determining a motion for summary judgment, the Court may assume that facts identified by the moving party in its statement of material facts are admitted, unless such a fact is controverted in the statement of genuine issues filed in opposition to the motion.”); Laningham v. U.S. Navy, 813 F.2d 1236, 1241 (D.C. Cir. 1987) (the party opposing summary judgment “may not rest upon mere allegation or denials of his pleadings but must present affirmative evidence showing a genuine issue for trial”).

         Accordingly, the undisputed facts set forth below are drawn from Plaintiffs' statement of material facts and from the record evidence Plaintiffs submitted in connection with their motion.

         B. Undisputed Facts

         Defendant Asian 328, LLC, through its owner, Defendant Zheng, operates a Washington, D.C. restaurant known as “Asia 54.” Am. Compl. ¶¶ 6-10. Plaintiffs worked for Defendants as kitchen laborers, which included duties such as cleaning, dishwashing, and basic food preparation. Id. ¶¶ 11, 12, 24, 25, 36, 37. Plaintiffs filed this action pursuant to the FLSA and DCWPCL, alleging that although they worked significant overtime hours, Defendants failed to pay them overtime wages. Id. ¶¶ 19, 20, 28, 29, 40, 41. Plaintiffs claim that Defendants owe them approximately $39, 000.00 in unpaid wages. See Id. ¶¶ 22, 34, 43.

         The facts relevant to the resolution of Plaintiffs' motion are straightforward. At all relevant times, Defendant Zheng was the sole owner and member of Defendant Asian 328, LLC. Pl. Mot., Ex. A ¶ 1; Pl. Mot., Ex. B. 8:9-21. Zheng averred that her former co-defendant and a co-worker at Asia 54, Cai Chen, is merely an employee, not an officer, of the company. Pl. Mot., Ex. A ¶ 4. In her capacity as owner and sole member, Zheng exercised exclusive control over the operations of Asia 54. See Id. ¶ 2; Pl. Mot., Ex. B 9:14-10:4. For instance, Zheng alone had the power to hire and fire restaurant employees, set their work schedules, and set their rates of pay. Pl. Mot., Ex. A ¶ 2; Pl. Mot., Ex. B 9:4-10:4, 31:2-8. Because most or all employees were paid in cash, she was also the person to physically hand employees their wages. See Pl. Mot., Ex. B ΒΆ 21:19- 22:20. Indeed, Zheng wielded such ...


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