MIAMI – The U.S. District Court for Southern District of Florida recently denied a lawn maintenance company's motion for relief from final judgment in a case that alleged the company failed to pay overtime wages in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
In a Nov. 29 filing, Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrea M. Simonton denied the motion for relief from final judgment requested by M.I. Quality Lawn Maintenance and its owner, Mitchell Igelko. M.I. Quality was sued by five former employees, including Edel Leon and Javier Gonzalez, for allegedly failing to pay overtime wages.
The court ruling that M.I. Quality "failed to demonstrate that they were unable to present their case fully and fairly due to the alleged improper actions of plaintiffs"; M.I. Quality has "failed to demonstrate that the judgment was obtained by “fraud on the court” as required to invoke the court’s inherent powers. The court also denied a request to have attorneys' fees paid by the plaintiffs.
M.I. Quality filed a motion for relief alleging that judgment was obtained through fraud and Leon’s provided perjurious testimony at trial. According to the filing, M.I. Quality "had reason to believe that Edel Leon may have obtained employment shortly after his termination, the defendants had the capability to fully and fairly prepare and present their case notwithstanding plaintiffs Leon and Kelly’s arguable misconduct, i.e. perjury."
According to the filing, M.I. Quality argued that whenever their attorneys sought information regarding when Leon began working for Perrine Rentals, Leon and Kelly Phillips, a plaintiff in the original suit, would provide perjurious answers. Leon began working for Perrine in August 2009 court affidavits show.
M.I. Quality argued that as a result, prior to the trial in this case, they did not have evidence that Leon began working at Perrine Rentals as early as three days after being terminated by M.I. Quality. Thus, M.I. Quality argued that they did not have sufficient evidence of Leon’s fraud "until they obtained the bank statements and payroll checks in the subsequent litigation that reflected that Leon began working for Lance Cooper at Perrine Rentals much earlier than testified to by both Leon and Phillips at trial and in discovery."
Attorneys for Leon and Gonzales filed an amended complaint alleging that not only was M.I. Quality in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act for failing to pay them overtime, but they additionally alleged that the company retaliated by firing them as a result, also in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
According to the filing, Gonzales was awarded $23,180 in damages for net loss of wages and benefits and $25,000 in damages for emotional pain and anguish by a jury in July 2012. Leon was also awarded $22,900 in damages for net loss of wages and benefits and $25,000 in damages for emotional pain and anguish.
In February 2013, the court entered a final judgment in the amount of $71,360 for Gonzales and $70,800 for Leon.