On January 26, 2016, the Delaware Bankruptcy Court denied Debtors Noble Logistics Inc., et al.’s (“Debtors” or “Noble Logistics”) motion for summary judgment on their objections to the claims filed by Richard Maximo individually, and on behalf of the Putative Class.  The claims were filed in the amounts of $188,014.13, and $61,292,607.17, respectively (the “Maximo Claims”). A link to the opinion can be found here.

The Maximo Claims are based upon a complaint alleging that Maximo and other members of the Putative Classes were working or had previously worked for Aspen (one of the Debtors’ affiliates) as “Delivery Drivers.” It further alleges that Maximo and other class members were mischaracterized as “independent contractors” by Aspen, and, therefore, were deprived of “premium overtime compensation,” minimum wages, and other protections and benefits to which they would have been entitled if treated as traditional employees.  Maximo asserts Aspen committed multiple violations of the California Labor Code and the California Business and Professions Code.

The Court walked through the analysis of explaining the shifting burdens of proof both on a summary judgment motion, and for establishing proofs of claim in general.  The Court found that genuine issues of material fact clearly existed regarding the Maximo Claims:

[I]ncluding whether the Class members had the right to control and the discretion as to the manner of performance of their services, whether the Class members could complete the route without the Debtors’ direction or supervision, what skills were required, the length of time for which the services were performed, and whether the work was part of the Debtors’ regular business, among other things. Based on the record before the Court, it would be impossible to make such factual determination without developing the evidentiary record.

Accordingly, the Court denied Debtors’ motion for summary judgment as to the Maximo Claims, without prejudice.

Carl D. Neff is a partner with the law firm of Fox Rothschild LLP.  You can reach Carl at (302) 622-4272 or at cneff@foxrothschild.com.