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Camp v. Bimbo Bakeries USA, Inc.,

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

April 3, 2019

David Camp and Keith Hadmack, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs
v.
Bimbo Bakeries USA, Inc. and Bimbo Foods Bakeries Distribution, LLC, Defendants

          Harold L. Lichten, Esq., Matthew Thomson, Esq., Christopher B. Coughlin, Esq., William D. Pandolph, Esq., Michael J. Puma, Esq., Siobhan E. Mee, Esq.

          ORDER

          Steven J. McAuliffe, United States District Judge.

         Pending before the court are several motions for both substantive and procedural relief. The court will address each in turn.

         I. Plaintiffs' Motion to Dismiss Counterclaim.

         In response to plaintiffs' claims that defendants (collectively “Bimbo Bakeries”) improperly classified them as independent contractors, Bimbo Bakeries filed a counterclaim seeking damages for “unjust enrichment.” In it, Bimbo Bakeries assert that:

if the Court finds that Counterclaim Defendants were employees of BFBD or its affiliates (which it should not), it should find that Counterclaim Defendants were enriched as a result of their status as independent contractors, including but not limited to, the revenue they generated and retained by selling certain products to their customers, the profits generated from the sale and/or partial sale of their distribution rights to other IBPs, the revenue generated pursuant to the Advertising Agreements they entered into with BFBD or its predecessor, and the tax deductions they took for the costs of operating their businesses.

         Answer and Counterclaim (document no. 48) at 30 (emphasis supplied). In their memorandum of law (document no. 53), defendants more specifically identify the ways by which they claim plaintiffs were enriched (presumably, unjustly) by virtue of their relationships with Bimbo Bakeries.

Plaintiffs profited from their sales of bakery products that they purchased from BFBD or its affiliates and then sold to their customers at a higher price.
Plaintiffs entered into commercial Advertising Agreements pursuant to which they were paid to advertise brands of certain products created by BFBD or its affiliates on their clothing and vehicles.
Plaintiffs profited by selling portions of their distribution rights, as Plaintiff Camp did on two occasions for a total of nearly $36, 000.
Plaintiffs were able to take tax deductions for costs associated with running their businesses by virtue of their independent contractor status.

Defendants' Objection (document no. 53) at 3.

         That is likely an accurate summary of the benefits plaintiffs realized as a consequence of their relationships with Bimbo Bakeries. Plaintiffs were “enriched” as a result of their efforts to sell Bimbo Bakeries' products. Plaintiffs were also “enriched” as a result of their agreements to perform various advertising services on behalf of Bimbo Bakeries. And, plaintiffs likely were able to avail themselves of various tax deductions available to independent contractors. But, none of that inured to Bimbo Bakeries' detriment. Indeed, Bimbo Bakeries were also “enriched” as a result of their relationships with plaintiffs and benefited financially from plaintiffs' efforts to both advertise and sell Bimbo Bakeries' products. And, by classifying plaintiffs as independent contractors Bimbo Bakeries no doubt avoided substantial employer tax (and perhaps insurance) obligations. That's typically how business relationships work - each side receives some benefit.

         The problem with Bimbo Bakeries' counterclaim is that it fails to plausibly allege how plaintiffs (if properly viewed as employees) were unjustly enriched, at the expense of Bimbo Bakeries. Nor does it plausibly allege that plaintiffs obtained some benefit from Bimbo Bakeries that would be unjust or inequitable for them to retain if they are deemed to have been employees. See generally, Estate of Mortner v. Thompson,170 N.H. 625, 631-32 (2018); Clapp v. Goffstown Sch. ...


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