Missing an Oxford Comma could be costly

A lawsuit, a ruling, and a 'missing' comma

(NEWS CENTER) -- Have you ever wondered why you had to spend so much of your childhood class time learning proper grammar in English class? We're about to give you millions of reasons why you should've paid close attention.

In 2014, dozens of Maine truck drivers sued Oakhurst Dairy for over $10 million in damages for unpaid overtime. This week, the U.S. Court of Appeals sided with the drivers, ruling that they were eligible for overtime — all because of a missing comma.

Jeffrey Neil Young is the lawyer who represented the drivers. He says it was this clause that caused the drivers to bring a suit:

The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of:

(1) Agricultural produce;
(2) Meat and fish products; and
(3) Perishable foods

It's a list of things Oakhurst would not pay overtime for.

"There was no comma after the word shipment," said Young. "The driver's position was that the statute was never intended to exempt people who were engaged in distribution, it was meant to exempt people who were packing for distribution."

A big difference, and one Oakhurst might now have to pay for, big time. Since drivers won their appeal and were found eligible for overtime, the case can now be heard in a lower court.

The moral of the story according to Young?

"Always listen to your English teacher."

Copyright 2017 WCSH


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