Case: Rosalino Perez-Benites v. Candy Brand LLC

1:07-cv-01048 | U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas

Filed Date: June 7, 2007

Closed Date: 2013

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On June 7, 2007, attorneys with the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a class action lawsuit in the U. S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas on behalf of about 2,700 Mexican migrant workers who entered the United States with H-2A visas and harvested and packed tomatoes and performed other agricultural work in Bradley County, Ark., from 2002 to 2007. Plaintiffs alleged that the employers violated the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. by failing to pay …

On June 7, 2007, attorneys with the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a class action lawsuit in the U. S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas on behalf of about 2,700 Mexican migrant workers who entered the United States with H-2A visas and harvested and packed tomatoes and performed other agricultural work in Bradley County, Ark., from 2002 to 2007. Plaintiffs alleged that the employers violated the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. by failing to pay the prevailing wage and overtime wages, and not reimbursing workers for travel, visa and hiring fees. Plaintiffs sought money damages, injunctive relief and class certification.

Defendants included former employers Candy Brand, LLC, and Arkansas Tomato Shippers, LLC, and several individual supervisors. Defendants initially responded by filing a motion for more definite statement. The trial court denied that motion. Perez-Bemotes v. Candy Brand, LLC, 2007 WL 4189499 (W.D.Ark. Nov 21, 2007).

On December 9, 2007, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint to include a statement about the grounds of jurisdiction over a class action claim. On October 13, 2008, the Court (Judge Harry F. Barnes) granted plaintiffs' conditional motion to certify a class and motion requesting information of potential class members from defendants. 2008 WL 4809105. After discovery, on March 23, 2010, the Court granted class certification for the plaintiffs, designating two classes. The first class included "all nonsupervisory workers employed by Defendants any time between 2003 and the date of judgment in this matter who were employed pursuant to H-2A temporary work visas;" and the second included "all nonsupervisory workers employed in the Defendants' packing shed operations at any time between 2003 and the date of the judgment in this matter--irrespective of visa status--who did not receive overtime pay during workweeks when they worked more than forty (40) hours." 267 F.R.D. 242. The defendants tried to appeal this decision, though permission for interlocutory appeal was denied by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Following class certification, the Court approved a stipulated dismissal as to defendant Dale McGinnis, though none of the other business defendants were dismissed.

On August 30, 2010, the Court dismissed individual and joint motions for summary judgment by the defendants, allowing plaintiffs more time for discovery.

The Court found that defendants were legally deemed employers for the H-2A guestworkers, and did not qualify for an exemption from paying overtime. The Court also held that defendants, in accordance with the FLSA, were required to reimburse plaintiffs for travel expenses if they brought plaintiffs' income below minimum wage, during the first work week. According to the employment contract, defendants were also required to reimburse plaintiffs for daily travel expenses and to pay plaintiffs overtime. Accordingly, on May 20, 2011, the Court denied defendants' numerous motions for summary judgment, and granted plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment related to violations of the FLSA and H-2A employment contracts, as well as their motion for summary judgment on the issue of employer status and liability of defendants. 2011 WL 1978414. The Court denied defendants' motion for reconsideration of the matter the next month. Following the grant of summary judgment for the plaintiffs, the Court instructed the parties to submit briefs regarding whether defendants mitigated damages by providing housing, whether defendants were liable for other expenses not presented in the motions for summary judgment, and whether plaintiffs were entitled to attorney fees pursuant to the FLSA.

A jury trial was set for January 23, 2012. Before this date, however, the parties reached a settlement agreement and the Court granted a motion for preliminary approval of a proposed class action settlement. The settlement agreement required the defendants to pay plaintiffs $1,212,500 in damages and attorney fees; it also provided terms for how to handle breach of payment and administration of the settlement agreement. Later that year, defendants breached the settlement agreement, and on September 4, 2013, the Court entered judgment against the defendants, requiring payment in the amount of $790,625 with an interest rate of 5%, with interest building from January 1, 2012 until paid. Additional attorney fees were to be calculated at the time of collection.

Summary Authors

Dan Dalton (12/7/2007)

Maurice Youkanna (7/29/2014)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4128758/parties/perez-benites-v-candy-brand-llc/


Judge(s)

Barnes, Harry F. (Arkansas)

Dawson, Robert Toombs (Arkansas)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Benjamin-Gomez, Arlen S (Alabama)

Bowen, Martin W. (Arkansas)

Rosenbaum, Jennifer J. (Alabama)

Tuddenham, Edward J. (New York)

Werner, Daniel (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Burnett, John L. (Arkansas)

Clark, Andrew L. Sr. (Arkansas)

Davidson, Jerry Paul (Arkansas)

Judge(s)

Barnes, Harry F. (Arkansas)

Dawson, Robert Toombs (Arkansas)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Benjamin-Gomez, Arlen S (Alabama)

Bowen, Martin W. (Arkansas)

Rosenbaum, Jennifer J. (Alabama)

Tuddenham, Edward J. (New York)

Werner, Daniel (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Burnett, John L. (Arkansas)

Clark, Andrew L. Sr. (Arkansas)

Davidson, Jerry Paul (Arkansas)

Dowden, James F. (Arkansas)

Hashem, Hani W. (Arkansas)

Knoepp, James Melvin (Georgia)

Lapointe, Michelle R. (Georgia)

Moore, Michael S. (Arkansas)

Thomas, F. Mattison (Alaska)

Young, H. Wayne Jr. (Arkansas)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket (PACER)

Sept. 4, 2013 Docket
1-1

Complaint - Class Action

June 7, 2007 Complaint
32

Order

2007 WL 4189499

Nov. 21, 2007 Order/Opinion
40

First Amended Complaint - Class Action

Nov. 30, 2007 Complaint
66

Order [Certifying Collective Action]

2008 WL 4809105

Oct. 31, 2008 Order/Opinion
173

Memorandum and Order [Certifying Class]

267 F.R.D. 242

March 23, 2010 Order/Opinion
175

Order [Dismissing All Claims Against Dale McGinnis]

March 31, 2010 Order/Opinion
185

Mandate [Denying Permission to File Interlocutory Appeal]

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

May 20, 2010 Order/Opinion
223

Order [Denying Motions for Summary Judgment]

Aug. 30, 2010 Order/Opinion
252

Memorandum Opinion and Order [Granting Plaintiffs' Motions for Summary Judgment]

2011 WL 978414

May 20, 2011 Order/Opinion

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4128758/perez-benites-v-candy-brand-llc/

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link
194

RECAP
196

PACER
198

PACER
199

RECAP
200

PACER
201

RECAP
203

RECAP
204

RECAP
253

PACER
32

ORDER denying Defendants' 17 Motion for More Definite Statement. Signed by Honorable Harry F. Barnes on November 21, 2007. (mfr)

Nov. 21, 2007 RECAP
66

ORDER granting 59 Conditional Motion to Certify Class. Signed by Honorable Harry F. Barnes on October 31, 2008. (cnn)

Oct. 31, 2008 RECAP
173

MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Honorable Harry F. Barnes on March 23, 2010. (cnn)

March 23, 2010 RECAP
195

1 Exhibit A

View on PACER

2 Exhibit B

View on PACER

3 Exhibit C

View on PACER

4 Exhibit D

View on PACER

5 Exhibit E

View on PACER

6 Exhibit F

View on PACER

7 Exhibit G

View on PACER

8 Exhibit H

View on PACER

9 Exhibit I

View on PACER

March 23, 2010 RECAP
202

1 L.R. 56.1 Response to Statement of Facts

View on PACER

March 23, 2010 PACER
174

ORDER granting 68 Motion to Certify Class; certified in two classes. Signed by Honorable Harry F. Barnes on March 23, 2010. (cnn)

March 23, 2010 RECAP
175

ORDER approving re 169 Notice of Voluntary Dismissal as to separate defendant Dale McGinnis; Claims against Dale McGinnis are dismissed with prejudice. Signed by Honorable Harry F. Barnes on March 31, 2010. (cnn)

March 31, 2010 RECAP
252

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER denying 194 Motion for Summary Judgment; denying 197 Motion for Partial Summary Judgment; denying 198 Amended Motion for Summary Judgment; granting 203 Motion for Partial Summary Judgment; granting 205 Motion for Summary Judgment; Status Conference being held 5/20/11 to discuss remaining issues for trial. Signed by Honorable Robert T. Dawson on May 20, 2011. (cnn)

May 20, 2011 RECAP
283

ORDER granting 279 Motion Final Approval of Class Action Settlement and Entry of Final Judgment; Case dismissed with prejudice subject to terms of settlement agreement. Signed by Honorable Robert T. Dawson on April 9, 2012. (cnn)

April 9, 2012 RECAP
287

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS re 284 MOTION For Entry of Judgment Against Randy Clanton, Candy Brand, LLC, and Arkansas Tomato Shippers, LLC for Breach of Settlement Agreement filed by Rosalino Perez-Benites. Objections to R&R due by 12/10/2012. Signed by Honorable Barry A. Bryant on November 21, 2012. (jn)

Nov. 21, 2012 RECAP
291

ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS re 287 ; granting 284 Motion for Entry of Judgment for Breach of Settlement Agreement. (proceedings against separate defendant Randy Clanton remain subject to bankruptcy stay). Signed by Honorable Robert T. Dawson on September 4, 2013. (cnn)

Sept. 4, 2013 RECAP
292

JUDGMENT in favor of plaintiffs against separate defendamts Arkansas Tomato Shippers, LLC, Candy Brand, LLC in the amount of $790,625.00; interest at the rate of 5.00% from 1/1/12 until paid; in addition to costs and attorney fees to be calculated at the time judgment is collected. Signed by Honorable Robert T. Dawson on September 4, 2013. (cnn)

Sept. 5, 2013 RECAP

State / Territory: Arkansas

Case Type(s):

Immigration and/or the Border

Special Collection(s):

Private Employment Class Actions

Key Dates

Filing Date: June 7, 2007

Closing Date: 2013

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Class of nonsupervisory workers employed by Candy Brand LLC who are either employed based on H-2A work visas, or otherwise work in the packing shed operations without overtime pay after working over 40 hours, since 2003 until the time of judgment in this litigation.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

Southern Poverty Law Center

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Candy Brand LLC, Private Entity/Person

Arkansas Tomato Shippers, LLC, Private Entity/Person

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Monetary Relief

Non-settlement Outcome

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Attorneys fees

Damages

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Litigation

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Amount Defendant Pays: $1,212,500

Issues

Immigration/Border:

Employment

Temporary foreign workers program