United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Jeffrey Alker Meyer Judge.
many years, plaintiff Sophan Chhum worked for a wealthy woman
who owned a small animal farm in Connecticut. For the last
years of the woman’s life until she died at the age of
99, she trusted plaintiff to live on the farm and to take
care of her numerous farm animals.
the woman passed away, plaintiff filed this lawsuit against
her estate to claim that under the Fair Labor Standards Act
(FLSA) he should have been paid overtime for the hours that
he worked in excess of 40 hours per week while living on the
farm. Defendant has moved for summary judgment on the ground
that plaintiff’s work fit within the
“agricultural exemption” to the FLSA. I agree,
and therefore I will grant defendant’s motion for
Bedford owned a small farm known as “Nyala Farm”
in Easton, Connecticut, some miles away from where Bedford
lived in Westport, Connecticut. The small farm had a
farmhouse, stables, and other outbuildings.
first started working at Bedford’s farm in 1993. From
1993 until March 2010, plaintiff commuted to the farm from
his home in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and there he assisted
another person who lived on the farm as resident caretaker.
In March 2010, the resident caretaker passed away, and
Bedford asked plaintiff to move to the farm to assume the
resident caretaker’s responsibilities. Plaintiff
agreed, and he lived there until December 2014 when the farm
was sold shortly after Bedford passed away.
the time that plaintiff lived there, Nyala Farm housed
between three and five retired racehorses, a mule, a donkey,
two llamas, two cows, about twenty chickens, ten ducks,
twenty pigeons, and a dog. There was also a 1, 000 pound pig
that had belonged to the former caretaker.
fed the animals twice a day, took the livestock from the
stable to the pasture for exercise, sprayed the horses with
fly spray, groomed the horses, and checked on the horses at
night. Plaintiff also drove a truck owned by Bedford to buy
food and other supplies for the livestock and other animals.
He oversaw the animals’ medical care, calling and
assisting the veterinarian as needed. Every day, he called
Bedford to report how her animals were doing.
also maintained the farm grounds, including shoveling snow,
cutting the grass, trimming the trees, and whacking the
weeds. He repaired fences and the farmhouse as needed. He was
assisted in these tasks by an hourly worker who worked about
40 hours a week. Otherwise, plaintiff or his wife had to
remain at the farm almost constantly because of the demands
of caring for the animals.
principles governing a motion for summary judgment are well
established. Summary judgment may be granted only if
“the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as
to any material fact and the movant is entitled to a judgment
as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also
Tolan v. Cotton, 134 S.Ct. 1861, 1866 (2014) (per
curiam). “A genuine dispute of material fact
exists for summary judgment purposes where the evidence,
viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, is
such that a reasonable jury could decide in that party's
favor.” Zann Kwan v. Andalex Grp. LLC, 737
F.3d 834, 843 (2d Cir. 2013). The evidence adduced at the
summary judgment stage must be viewed in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party and with all ambiguities
and reasonable inferences drawn against the moving party.
See, e.g., Tolan, 134 S.Ct. at 1866;
Caronia v. Philip Morris USA, Inc., 715 F.3d 417,
427 (2d Cir. 2013). All in all, “a judge’s
function at summary judgment is not to weigh the evidence and
determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether
there is a genuine issue for trial.” Tolan,
134 S.Ct. at 1866.
FLSA requires that an employer pay an employee overtime for
hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week if an employee
either “is engaged in commerce or in the production of
goods for commerce, ” or “is employed in an
enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of goods
for commerce.” 29 U.S.C. §
207(a)(1). But an employee who works in
“agriculture” for a small agricultural operation,
however, is exempt from these overtime requirements. 29
U.S.C. § 213(a)(6)(A).
The FLSA, in turn, defines the term “agriculture”
broadly to include:
farming in all its branches and among other things includes .
. . the raising of livestock, bees, fur-bearing animals, or
poultry, and any practices (including any forestry or
lumbering operations) performed by a farmer or on a farm as