SYDNEY A. and PATRICIA A. TerMORSHUIZEN Plaintiffs
SPURWINK SERVICES, INC. Defendant
Attorneys for Plaintiffs: Guy Loranger, Esq. Danielle
Campbell, Esq. Law Office of Guy D. Loranger.
Attorney for Defendant: Graydon Stevens, Esq. Kelly Remmel
ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant Spurwink
Services, Inc. ["Spurwink"] is before the court,
together with the opposition of Plaintiffs Sydney A. and
Patricia A. TerMorshuizen, and Spurwink's reply
Plaintiffs are spouses who were formerly employed by Spurwink
as a live-in therapeutic couple whose duties required them to
stay for 10 days and 11 nights at a time at one of the group
homes operated by Spurwink for its clients. The legal issue
presented in this case is whether the Plaintiffs are entitled
to additional overtime pay during their overnight stays at
the group home.
Sydney and Patricia TerMorshuizen are husband and wife, and
were employed by Defendant Spurwink between September 2011
and December 2016. Defendant Spurwink is a licensed,
nonprofit mental health agency that provides services for
children, adolescents and adults with emotional or behavioral
disturbances and/or developmental disabilities. Plaintiffs
worked as a live-in "therapeutic couple" at a group
home serving up to three Spurwink clients at any given time.
Most of the clients who resided at the group home while
Plaintiffs worked there were between 11 and 16 years old, and
required significant care and attention due to emotional,
behavioral or development issues.
primary responsibility as a therapeutic couple was to reside
with the clients in a home-like, safe and comfortable
environment while supporting individual treatment plans for
clients. Plaintiffs' work schedule generally began at 8
p.m. Monday of a given week and continued until 10 a.m. of
the Friday of the following week, with 11 consecutive
overnights at the residence. They had their own bedroom in
the home and were required to remain on premises overnight.
There were "baby monitors" in the clients'
bedroom with a receiver in Plaintiffs' bedroom, so that
Plaintiffs were able to hear sounds from the clients'
bedrooms during sleep hours, and were thus able to respond to
a client during the night if necessary.
Plaintiffs' daily schedule included up to eight hours of
unpaid "sleep time" between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. each
overnight and breaks of several hours each on each full day
of their 10-day shift except for the Saturday-Sunday falling
at the midpoint of each 10-day shift. All other time was paid
at a specified hourly rate.
relevant times, Spurwink's practice regarding
compensation for interrupted sleep time was to pay Plaintiffs
for interruptions only if an interruption involved attending
to a client. If the Plaintiffs' sleep was interrupted to
the point that Plaintiffs were able to get less than five
hours of sleep that night, the Plaintiffs were paid for the
entire eight hours of sleep time.
policy regarding unpaid sleep time is meant to track the
federal Department of Labor standards for payment of sleep
time codified at 29 C.F.R. § 785.23.
Plaintiffs acknowledge that they have been compensated for
all interruptions of their sleep that were eligible for
compensation under Spurwink's policy. See
Plaintiffs' Response to Defendant's Statement of
Material Facts No. 29. However, Plaintiffs contend that there
were many more sleep interruptions for which they were not
compensated, because Spurwink would not permit them to record
time associated with a sleep interruption unless it involved
responding to a client.
contend that they routinely suffered sleep deprivation for
which they were not compensated when they were awakened
during sleep time but were not required to respond to a
client. They say that due to the baby monitors and due to the
construction of the residence, they were regularly awakened
or prevented from falling asleep by sounds and movement in
the clients' bedrooms that did not require them to get
out of bed and attend to a client.
response contends that nothing in state or federal law
required Spurwink to compensate Plaintiffs for interruptions
of their sleep if the Plaintiffs did not attend to a client
during the period of the interruption, as long as the
Plaintiffs could get at least five hours of sleep.
function of a summary judgment is to permit a court, prior to
trial, to determine whether there exists a triable issue of
fact or whether the question[s] before the court [are] solely
... of law." Bouchard v. American Orthodontics,
661 A.2d 1143, 44 (Me. 1995).
of fact must be viewed in a light most favorable to the
non-moving party-Plaintiff in this case. Thus, for purposes
of Spurwink's motion, the court takes as true and
established the Plaintiffs assertions that they were often
awakened from sleep by noises that did not require them to
get out of bed and attend to a client, and also that they
were not regularly able to get a good night's sleep due
to frequent interruption of sleep by sounds made by clients.
"summary judgment is appropriate when the portions of
the record referenced in the statements of material fact
disclose no genuine issues of material fact and reveal that
one party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Currie v. Indus. Sec, Inc., 2007 ME 12, ¶ 11,
915 A.2d 400. "A material fact is one that can affect
the outcome of the case, and a genuine issue exists when
there is sufficient evidence for a fact finder to choose
between competing versions of the fact." Lougee
Conservancy v. City-Mortgage, Inc., 2012 ME 103, ¶
11, 48 A.3d 774 (quotation omitted).
single-count complaint alleges that Defendant failed to pay
them for all hours worked, and that Defendant's failure
to pay violates the overtime pay provision of Maine statute,
26 M.R.S. § 664(3), and entitles Plaintiff to actual,
liquidated and punitive damages, attorney fees and costs, as
well as interest.
The Maine Overtime Payment Law
parties agree that there is no Maine Law Court precedent that
defines whether, and under what criteria, an employee who is
required to spend the night at the employer's premises is
entitled to be paid for sleep time or interruptions to sleep
time. However, the United States District Court has recently
addressed issues very similar to those raised in this case.