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7th Circuit certifies questions for Kansas Supreme Court

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals was unable to determine under Kansas law how that state’s Supreme Court would rule on whether FedEx drivers are employees or independent contractors, so the court sent two certified questions to the Kansas justices.

Current and former drivers for FedEx filed lawsuits across the country claiming to be employees rather than independent contractors under the laws of the states in which they worked and under federal law. The drivers want overtime wages and repayment of costs and expenses they paid while employees.  The lawsuits were consolidated and transferred to U.S. Judge Robert Miller Jr. in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana. Miller used Carlene M. Craig, et al., a case using Kansas law, as the “lead” case.

Miller granted summary judgment to FedEx in Craig and then ruled in FedEx’s favor on summary judgment in the other cases. There are 21 cases on appeal before the 7th Circuit, but the judges, following the lead of the District Court, put the others on hold and focused on Craig.

In a per curiam decision, the judges decided that they could not answer whether the drivers are employees under the Kansas Wage Payment Act. There is conflicting caselaw out of Kansas and the judges are unsure how the Kansas court would rule on the matter.

“This case will have far-reaching effects on how FedEx runs its business, not only in Kansas but also throughout the United States. And it seems likely that employers in other industries may have similar arrangements with workers, whether delivery drivers or other types of workers. Thus, the decision in this case will have ramifications beyond this particular case and FedEx’s business practices, affecting FedEx’s competitors and employers in other industries as well,” the opinion says in Carlene M. Craig, et al. v. FedEx Ground Package System Inc., 10-3115.

The judges sent two certified questions to the Kansas Supreme Court: “Given the undisputed facts presented to the district court in this case, are the plaintiff drivers employees of FedEx as a matter of law under the KWPA?” and “Drivers can acquire more than one service area from FedEx. See 734 F. Supp. 2d at 574. Is the answer to the preceding question different for plaintiff drivers who have more than one service area?”

 

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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