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Magalhaes v. Lowe's Home Ctrs., Inc.

United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts

March 10, 2014, Decided

Civil Action No. 13-10666-DJC

Opinion

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

CASPER, J.

I. Introduction

This is a putative class action in which the named plaintiff and proposed class representatives (collectively, "Plaintiffs") allege that the defendant Lowe's Home Center, Inc. ("Lowe's") misclassified Plaintiffs as independent contractors in violation of Mass. Gen. L. c. 149 § 148B ("Section 148B"). Plaintiffs have now moved for class certification. D. 26. For the reasons set forth below, their motion is DENIED.

II. Factual Background 1

Lowe's is a home improvement retailer that operates 1,715 stores  [*2] in the U.S., with twenty-seven stores in Massachusetts. D. 27 at 2. In its 2012 SEC Form 10-K, Lowe's stated that it offers "installation services through independent contractors in many of our product categories [including] Flooring, Millwork and Cabinets & Countertops." Id. When a customer purchases a product and desires an installation, Lowe's subcontracts the installation to one of its installers. D. 28 at 7. Since 2006, Magalhaes was part of this operation, installing window shades and blinds for Lowe's as a "Legacy" or "Type 1" installer. D. 27 at 7. Lowe's classified Magalhaes as an independent contractor. Id. Consequently, Magalhaes paid self-employment taxes, carried his own worker's compensation and liability insurance and did not receive health insurance, life insurance, sick pay and a 401(k) savings plan from Lowe's. Id. at 8. During his retention process, Magalhaes was interviewed by a Lowe's Area Installation Manager. Id. He also submitted to a background check as a condition of his contract with Lowe's. Id.

Magalhaes operates his installations through the company Shades In Place, Inc. ("Shades In Place"), of which he is the President. D. 28 at 10. Shades In Place focuses  [*3] on the sale of high end window treatments and installations. Id. Magalhaes started the company in 2006 and incorporated it in 2011. Id. He has two employees and leases 1,000 square feet of office and showroom space. Id. at 11. Shades In Place owns two vehicles that bear its company logo, owns its own tools, operates its own website and engages in its own advertising. Id. It also maintains its own bank accounts and carries its own insurance. Id. at 11. Magalhaes concedes that he scheduled all of his own jobs (even when Lowe's was the source of work), determined which of his employees would perform the work and how much each employee would get paid. Id. Magalhaes had the right to turn down work and did so regularly. Id. at 12.

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2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30320 *

ROGER MAGALHAES, on behalf of himself and others similarly situated, Plaintiff, v. LOWE'S HOME CENTERS, INC., Defendant.

Prior History: D'Italia v. Lowe's Home Ctrs., Inc., 2012 Mass. Super. LEXIS 412 (Mass. Super. Ct., Dec. 5, 2012)

CORE TERMS

installers, employees, Prong, class action, class member, independent contractor, class certification, predominate, common issue, individualized, interaction, flooring, general contractor, proposed class, commonality, contractors, contracts, parties, cases, indemnification, impracticable, Plaintiffs', indemnify, Shades, varies

Civil Procedure, Special Proceedings, Class Actions, Certification of Classes, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Allocation, Prerequisites for Class Action, General Overview, Labor & Employment Law, Employment Relationships, Independent Contractors, Governments, Courts, Common Law, Judicial Officers, Judges, Discretionary Powers, Judicial Discretion, Numerosity, Commonality, Class Members, Named Members, Typicality, Adequacy of Representation, Predominance