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BOEKEMEIER v. FOURTH UNIVER. SOCIETY IN CITY OF NY

February 15, 2000

RALPH BOEKEMEIER, PLAINTIFF,
V.
FOURTH UNIVERSALIST SOCIETY IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK AND THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF FOURTH UNIVERSALIST SOCIETY IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sprizzo, District Judge.

  MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Ralph Boekemeier, a former employee of defendants the Fourth Universalist Society in the City of New York ("Church") and the Board of Trustees of Fourth Universalist Society in the City of New York ("Board"), brings the instant action against defendants pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA" or the "Act"), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et. seq., for overtime wages for services rendered for the Church in excess of 35 hours per week. Plaintiff also asserts state law claims for breach of contract and for quantum meruit recovery for his services. Pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, defendants move and plaintiff cross-moves for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, plaintiff is granted partial summary judgment and defendant is granted partial summary judgment.

BACKGROUND

A ruling on the instant motions for summary judgment turns primarily upon the extent to which either the Church or plaintiff has engaged in interstate commerce as this term is interpreted by the FLSA. The Church itself is a nonprofit corporation that supplements its income by leasing its facilities and property on a short and long-term basis to individuals and organizations. See Joint Statement of Material Facts As To Which There Is No Genuine Dispute, dated November 13, 1997 ("Jt.Stmnt."), at ¶ 11. In soliciting customers to rent its facilities, the Church performs monthly mass mailings, issues press releases and places advertisements in magazines and on the Internet. Id. at ¶¶ 12-14. Approximately half of the groups that rented space from the Church in 1996 for special events were from a state other than New York. Id. at ¶ 73.

The Church's total income for each fiscal year from 1993 to 1996 surpasses $500,000. As audited, such income can be divided into the categories of rental income, contributions,*fn1 investment income,*fn2 special events income,*fn3 miscellaneous income,*fn4 gain on sale of investments,*fn5 social action committee income,*fn6 and insurance proceeds.*fn7 The following table reflects the amount of income attributable to each such category for the fiscal years in question:

June 1993-June 1994 June 1994-June 1995 June 1995-June 1996
Rental Income $467,912 $481,427 $451,973
Contributions 57,289 41,444 50,690
Investment Income 6,319 6,512 7,008
Special Events 12,087 8,511 9,069
Miscellaneous 3,024 6,718 2,406
Gain on Investment Sales 18,850 (8,982) (1,437)
Social Action Committee 1,123 600 200
Insurance Proceeds 15,520

See Jt. Stmnt. at ¶¶ 5-10.

Limited information is available regarding the extent to which the Church segregated its charitable contributions from its business related income. The parties have stipulated that the Church placed the money it received from its rental activities, contributions and other sources of income into a single, unrestricted fund, and from that fund paid its employees' salaries and other expenses. See id. at ¶ 89. They have also stipulated that according to Board minutes dated November 30, 1994, the Board agreed to supplement Church employees' Christmas bonuses with money that was received in the Church's collection plate, so that the total bonus for such employees equaled $1,000. See id. at ¶ 87.

Plaintiff contends that while employed by the Church, he engaged in interstate commerce by virtue of both his purchases of goods from out-of-state vendors and his work with short and long-term tenants of the Church. Plaintiff commenced employment with the Church in 1990 as an Assistant Building Engineer and retained this position until the termination of his employment on May 14, 1997. See id. at ¶¶ 21-22. As Assistant Building Engineer, plaintiff's job responsibilities included, inter alia, custodial and maintenance work, assisting the Church's short and long-term tenants, and purchasing equipment, cleaning and maintenance supplies. See id. at ¶ 23. For a four month period during his employment, plaintiff temporarily assumed the vacant position of Building Engineer which included similar responsibilities. See id. at ¶ 39.

During times relevant to this litigation, plaintiff purchased custodial supplies and other equipment from five out-of-state vendors. See id. at ¶ 40. The majority of such purchases were for custodial supplies, but on separate occasions plaintiff also purchased a refrigerator, electronics equipment, and a computer from such vendors. See id. at ¶¶ 40-41, 44-46. Plaintiff also claims to have purchased materials from a supplier of plumbing parts from California, but cannot recall the name of the company and is unable to cite any purchases from out-of-state vendors other than those five indicated above. See id. at ¶¶ 40, 43-47.

In sum, the parties have stipulated that plaintiff made between one and four purchases from out-of state vendors in 1992; between three and six such purchases in 1993; between three and four such purchases in 1994; between one and four such purchases in 1995; between two and six such purchases in 1996; and between four and six such purchases from the beginning of 1997 through May 14, 1997, plaintiff's last day of employment with the Church. ...


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