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Court orders more proceedings on laborer’s pay

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The Boone Superior Court will need to take another look at a man’s lawsuit against R.L. Turner Corporation that claimed he was underpaid by the company for labor he provided on two public works projects, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.

In William Wressell v. R.L. Turner Corporation, 06A01-1301-PL-5, William Wressell claimed that while he was paid properly for work he performed as a classified skilled cement mason under the Common Construction Wage Act, he actually performed other tasks as a skilled carpenter or skilled laborer and should have received a higher wage and higher fringe benefits for that work.

Wressell worked for RLTC for nearly a year on two projects – one at Purdue University and one at Indiana University. He filed his lawsuit alleging underpayment after receiving authorization from the Office of the Indiana Attorney General to pursue his claims in court.
 
RLTC and Wressell both moved for summary judgment. The Boone Superior Court ruled in favor of RLTC.

At issue in the appeal is the trial court’s striking of certain portions of an affidavit from Monte Moorhead, a field auditor with the Indiana Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division. The affidavit included statements about how fringe benefits are classified and that employer expenses that are part of its regular overhead costs of doing business or are for the primary benefit of the employer are not treated by the IDOL as employee fringe benefits. The trial court concluded that paragraphs 12-18 on the fringe benefits were irrelevant and legal conclusions.

But the Court of Appeals disagreed, finding the paragraphs in question to be “unquestionably relevant,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote. “Whether IDOL considers a certain type of payment to be a fringe benefit strikes us as evidence that would be quite helpful to the factfinder in characterizing that payment, and therefore relevant.”

The judges also held that Moorhead’s averments regarding IDOL policy and whether it treats certain types of payments as fringe benefits do not constitute legal conclusions.

There are genuine issues of material fact regarding Wressell’s job classification on the jobs and whether Wressell was sufficiently paid for fringe benefits, the judges held, so they remanded for further proceedings. The COA judges also denied RLTC’s request for appellate attorney fees.

 

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