Court denies motions attacking jury verdict for worker in wage suit

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A federal judge Thursday rejected motions for judgment in its favor or a new trial by employers who lost a jury trial over unpaid wages to a Terre Haute worker.

A jury in December awarded $171,345.76 to Daniel L. Brown, who sued Presstime Graphics Inc., Osler Institute Inc., and owner Joseph Selliken Jr. in December 2013. The total included damages for unpaid overtime Brown worked plus liquidated damages under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and the Indiana Wage Payment Statute.

Brown provided security and maintenance services for the defendants from June 2010 to October 2013. He claimed he turned in timecards reporting he worked 35 hours a week, but he actually was working many more hours, often seven days a week. He claimed supervisors told him to track his overtime separately, and the he would be paid for that time in the future.

The defendants moved under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 50(b) and 59(a) for judgment as a matter of law or a new trial, but District Judge William T. Lawrence denied the motion. Defendants argued in part that Brown wasn’t under the direct supervision of a named defendant, but Lawrence ruled otherwise.

“There was ample evidence at trial to support a finding that the Defendants knew or had reason to know that the Plaintiff was working overtime on a regular basis,” he wrote in Daniel L. Brown v. Presstime Graphics, Inc., et al., 2:13-cv-425. “As the Defendants acknowledge, the law does not permit an employer to avoid paying overtime by remaining willfully ignorant of an employee’s hours.”   

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