About 75 delivery drivers, who work for Portland-based Oakhurst Dairy, have won a preliminary legal skirmish in their battle to recover more than $10 million in damages they claim are owed them for unpaid overtime.

According to court documents, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston on Monday reversed a U.S. District Court ruling that supported Oakhurst’s contention that it did not have to pay the drivers for overtime.

The Appeals Court rejected the company’s argument that its drivers were not entitled to overtime because of an exemption in Maine law for workers who handle and store perishable foods. “If the drivers engage only in distribution and not in any of the stand-alone activities (the exemption covers) the drivers fall outside of the exemption’s scope and thus within the protection of the Maine overtime law,” the Court said in its March 13th opinion.

Attorneys for the drivers argued that each driver worked an average of 12 overtime hours per week from 2008 through 2014.

They said the drivers’ next step will be to request that the court certify their class-action suit under Maine law.


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