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Tall v. MV Transportation

United States District Court, D. Maryland

October 14, 2014

HESMAN TALL,
v.
MV TRANSPORTATION

MEMORANDUM OPINION

DEBORAH K. CHASANOW, District Judge.

Presently pending and ready for resolution in this Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") case is the motion to dismiss the amended complaint filed by Defendant MV Transportation, Inc. ("MV Transportation" or "Defendant"). (ECF No. 21). The issues have been fully briefed, and the court now rules, no hearing being deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the following reasons, Defendant's motion to dismiss will be granted in part and denied in part.

I. Background

From September 2009 until January 6, 2011, Plaintiff was employed by MV Transportation as a Paratransit Driver/Operator.[1] He was terminated on January 6, 2011. On August 8, 2013, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, brought a complaint against MV Transportation for unpaid wages and overtime under the FLSA, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. (ECF No. 1). Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint on October 10, 2013. (ECF No. 8). On October 17, 2013, Plaintiff moved to strike Defendant's motion to dismiss, which was construed as his opposition. (ECF No. 10). On June 30, 2014, the undersigned issued a memorandum opinion and order granting in part Defendant's motion to dismiss, finding most of Plaintiff's allegations time-barred, but granting Plaintiff twenty-one (21) days to amend his complaint in order to state a claim within the confines of the statute of limitations. (ECF No. 18).

Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on July 15, 2014. (ECF No. 20). Defendant moved to dismiss the amended complaint on August 1, 2014. (ECF No. 21). Plaintiff opposed the motion and Defendant replied. (ECF Nos. 23 & 24).

II. Standard of Review

The purpose of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) is to test the sufficiency of the complaint. Presley v. City of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006). A plaintiff's complaint need only satisfy the standard of Rule 8(a), which requires a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). "Rule 8(a)(2) still requires a showing, ' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 556 n.3 (2007). That showing must consist of more than "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" or "naked assertion[s] devoid of further factual enhancement." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal citations omitted).

At this stage, all well-pleaded allegations in a complaint must be considered as true, Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 268 (1994), and all factual allegations must be construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, see Harrison v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 176 F.3d 776, 783 (4th Cir. 1999) ( citing Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993)). In evaluating the complaint, unsupported legal allegations need not be accepted. Revene v. Charles Cnty. Com'rs, 882 F.2d 870, 873 (4th Cir. 1989). Legal conclusions couched as factual allegations are insufficient, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, as are conclusory factual allegations devoid of any reference to actual events, United Black Firefighters v. Hirst, 604 F.2d 844, 847 (4th Cir. 1979); see also Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009). "[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged, but it has not show[n]... that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 ( quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). Thus, "[d]etermining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will... be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id.

III. Analysis

A. Statute of Limitations

In Plaintiff's initial complaint, he attempted to allege FLSA violations dating back to September 2009. (ECF No. 1). In the original motion to dismiss, Defendant argued that the two-year statute of limitations applied, barring all of Plaintiff's claims. Plaintiff argued that the three-year statute of limitations applied because he pled willful violations of the FLSA. In the June 30, 2014 memorandum opinion, the undersigned concluded that "[even] [i]f the three-year statute of limitations applies, [] many of Plaintiff's claims are still precluded.... To support his FLSA claims, Plaintiff can only rely on allegations from August 8, 2010 to January 6, 2011, the date he was terminated." (ECF No. 18, at 8).

In the amended complaint, Plaintiff "requests that the court consider applying the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 which would allow the complaint to be effective retroactively to the date of the first paycheck." (ECF No. 20, at 1). This Act, which amended Title VII, covers employees who face discrimination in compensation because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e)(3)(A). Nowhere in his original or amended complaint, however, did Plaintiff allege that Defendant discriminated against him in his employment based on his protected status. Plaintiff's request is devoid of any explanation as to why the Act is applicable in his case. Instead, Plaintiff requests that the Act be applied simply to expand the time period for which he can attempt to seek recovery under the FLSA. Furthermore, Plaintiff was granted leave to amend on the limited issues outlined in the June 30, 2014 memorandum opinion, and Plaintiff may not ignore these boundaries in an attempt potentially to plead additional claims outside of his overtime and minimum wage claims. Tall v. MV Transportation, Civ. Action No. DKC 12-2306, 2014 WL 2964279, at *5 (D.Md. June 30, 2014) ("Plaintiff will not, however, be permitted to assert new claims or allege facts outside the scope of the overtime or minimum wage claims he attempted to raise initially.").

B. Overtime Claim

Defendant argues that Plaintiff's amended complaint fails to cure the deficiencies in the original complaint and should be dismissed. (ECF No. 21-1, at 2). In support of the overtime claim, Plaintiff originally asserted that he worked over forty hours a week but was not compensated one and a half times his regular rate of pay. (ECF No. 10, at 9). He stated that he performed tasks "off-the-clock" for which he was not compensated. (ECF No. 1, at 2). In the initial motion to dismiss, Defendant argued that Plaintiff provided "absolutely no facts regarding when this denial of overtime purportedly occurred [] or the approximate[] number of hours of overtime he was allegedly denied." (ECF No. 8-1, at 5-6). Plaintiff submitted with his opposition to Defendant's initial motion to dismiss payroll records reflecting that from August 2010 until January 2011, he worked over forty hours on some weeks. It was not clear, however, whether he was compensated for the additional hours, or which weeks Plaintiff was allegedly denied ...


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