S.D.Fla.: “Offensive” Collateral Estoppel Appropriate Where Defendant’s Exemption Argument Previously Rejected By 11th Circuit

Schulman v. Southern Shuttle Services Inc.

Defendant, a company which provides bus shuttle transportation to and from airports for a fee filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that Plaintiffs were exempt under the so-called taxicab exemption to the FLSA of § 213(b)(17).  Plaintiffs, drivers for Defendant, opposed the motion, primarily by pointing to a recent decision by the 11th Circuit, which held such drivers not to be taxi cab exempt.

In denying Defendant summary judgment the Court stated:

“[We] find that offensive collateral estoppel is appropriate. Defendant, Southern Shuttle, has previously litigated unsuccessfully the issue of whether it qualifies for the taxicab exemption. See Abel v. Southern Shuttle Services, Inc., 2008 WL 5047626 (11th Cir. Nov.28, 2008. The Eleventh Circuit held that, while Defendant’s airport shuttle vans share some characteristics with taxicabs, they are not “taxicabs” under the narrow interpretation required of an FLSA exemption. Id. Since Defendant received a “full and fair” opportunity to litigate its taxicab exemption claim in the Abel action, the law of collateral estoppel leads inescapably to the conclusion that Defendant is collaterally estopped from relitib Exemption, Collateral Estoppel, Summary Judgmentgating the question of whether it qualifies for the taxicab exemption under the FLSA. See Blonder-Tongue Laboratories, 402 U.S. at 328. The Court is unconvinced that the factual distinctions alleged between this case and Abel v. Southern Shuttle Services, Inc. (07-80584-KLR) are sufficient to prevent the exercise of collateral estoppel here.”

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