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Napert v. Gov't Emples. Ins. Co.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

July 22, 2014


Page 238

For Michael R. Napert, Plaintiff: Sonja L. Deyoe, LEAD ATTORNEY, Law Offices of Sonja L. Deyoe, Providence, RI.

For Government Employees Insurance Company, Defendant: Andrea L. Martin, Lawrence P Murray, Burns & Levinson LLP, Boston, MA.

Page 239


F. Dennis Saylor IV, United States District Judge.

This is a claim under the Massachusetts wage and hour laws. Jurisdiction is based on diversity of citizenship. Plaintiff Michael Napert worked as an adjuster for defendant Government Employees Insurance Company (" GEICO" ). He alleges that GEICO intentionally failed to pay him his earned hourly wages as required by the Massachusetts Wage Act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, § 148, and intentionally failed to pay him overtime wages as required by the Massachusetts Fair Minimum Wage Act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151, § 1A.

GEICO has moved for summary judgment, contending that Napert's position is exempt from the requirements of the Massachusetts wage and overtime laws. For the following reasons, that motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

I. Background

A. Factual Background

The following facts are undisputed or construed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.

In the summer of 2004, Michael Napert began working for GEICO as an auto-damage adjuster. (Def. SMF ¶ 1). According to a compensation memorandum, GEICO agreed to pay Napert an annual salary of $58,000 and a premium wage for every hour he worked over 38.75 hours per week. (Compensation Mem., Pl. SMF, Ex. B). He was required to obtain approval for any overtime compensation. ( Id. ). However, GEICO was obligated to compensate him for any overtime hours that he reported, regardless of whether he received prior approval. ( Id. ).

Page 240

As an auto-damage adjuster, Napert settled automobile damage claims through negotiations with GEICO policyholders, claimants, and repair facilities. (Def. SMF ¶ 11). He also negotiated prices for repairs and replacement parts. ( Id. ).

When settling claims, Napert traveled to automobile repair shops in New England to assess the damage to vehicles allegedly damaged by an accident. ( Id. ¶ 13). After examining the vehicle and speaking to the claimant, he would determine how much damage the vehicle suffered, whether the damage was actually caused by an accident, how much of the vehicle's damage existed before the accident, and whether the vehicle should be considered a total loss. ( Id. ¶ ¶ 8, 9, 15).[1] He did so using his judgment, training, and experience. ( Id. ¶ ¶ 16, 18, 23). He did not speak to any witnesses to the accident other than the claimant. (Pl. SMF ¶ 13).

GEICO issued Napert a laptop with a database and software to assist him in appraising the damage to a vehicle. (Def. SMF ¶ 7). After making an assessment, he would input the figures into the database. (Pl. SMF ¶ 8). The software would then aggregate the cost of the damage. ( Id. ). Napert would then tell the claimant the amount the database said the claim was worth. (Napert Dep. at 83). If the claimant had proof that any of his figures were incorrect, he could fix those errors. ( Id. at 82-87). Each appraisal took, on average, an hour to complete. ( Id. at 120).

Napert also sometimes adjusted the figures to increase the settlement amount if a claimant complained. ( Id. at 124-25). On at least one occasion, his supervisor reprimanded him for doing so and told him that he could not arbitrarily change the figures in the database. ( Id. ).

Napert was authorized to settle insurance claims without approval for any amount up to $15,000. (Def. SMF ¶ 22, 29). He was able to print checks from GEICO to claimants up to that limit. ( Id. ¶ ¶ 29-30). He was also authorized to declare a vehicle a total loss without approval. ( Id. ¶ 24). If he did declare that a vehicle was a total loss, he was authorized to take possession of and have the vehicle towed, and reimburse the claimant. ( Id. ¶ 25). He was responsible for negotiating and paying towing and storage charges on GEICO's behalf for total-loss vehicles. ( Id. ¶ 26). He was also responsible for negotiating the reimbursement price for total-loss vehicles. ( Id. ¶ 31).

Napert's supervisor at GEICO was Justin Koestler. ( Id. ¶ ¶ 12). Koestler oversaw Napert's overall performance, but was not typically involved in his day-to-day decisions. (Def. SMF ¶ 35). Koestler traveled with Napert on his trips to examine vehicles about once a month. ( Id. ¶ 14). Koestler also required him to keep a log of all the work that he had performed and send him an e-mail every time he finished a claim. (Napert Dep. at 104, 115).

Napert's job also involved keeping track of rental cars insured with GEICO through the company's Automated Rental Management System, printing out claim-related documents and mailing them to GEICO customers, making phone calls to set up appointments, and planning travel to and from appointments. (Pl. SMF ¶ ¶ 5, 6, 14, 16). He drove between fifteen to eighteen hours a week for his job. ( Id. ¶ 4).

According to Napert, he worked overtime due to those various obligations. ( Id.

Page 241

ΒΆ 19). He repeatedly clashed with his supervisor when he worked overtime without prior ...

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