United States District Court, D. Maryland
Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge.
Spencer Brown, Zaire Acquaah, Lijalem Uregeha, Albert Sims,
and Vincent Emmare (collectively, “Plaintiffs”)
bring this putative collective action pursuant to the Fair
Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq.
(“FLSA”), the Maryland Wage and Hour Law, Md.
Code Ann., Lab. & Empl., § 3-401, et seq.
(“MWHL”), and the Maryland Wage Payment and
Collection Law, Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl., §
3-501, et seq. (“MWPCL”) seeking to
recover unpaid wages, statutory damages, and related relief.
(ECF No. 17.)
pending before this Court are (1) Defendants' Motions to
Dismiss Count VII of Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint
in which Plaintiff Brown alleges abusive discharge
(“Defendants' Motions”) (ECF Nos. 22, 37),
(2) Plaintiffs' Motion to Dismiss Rapid Response
Delivery, Inc.'s Counterclaim (“Plaintiffs'
Motion”) (ECF No. 40). The parties' submissions have
been reviewed, and no hearing is necessary. See Loc.
R. 105.6. For the reasons stated below, Defendants'
Motions to Dismiss Count VII in which Plaintiff Brown alleges
abusive discharge (ECF Nos. 22, 37) are GRANTED, and
Plaintiffs' Motion to Dismiss Defendant's
Counterclaim (ECF No. 40) is DENIED.
Rapid Response Delivery, Inc. (“RRD”) operates a
delivery service located in Savage, Maryland and employs
courier drivers to make deliveries in Maryland and
surrounding states. (ECF No. 17 at ¶ 21.) Plaintiffs
work (or worked) as drivers for RRD and were assigned to
drive exclusively for NAPA Auto Parts of Hunt Valley, LLC
(“NAPA”) and Timonium Auto Parts, Inc.
(“TAP”), two of RRD's clients. (Id.
at ¶ 22.) Plaintiffs performed this work at varying
times since April 15, 2013. (Id. at ¶ 23.)
allege that RRD compensated Plaintiffs “a set amount
for each delivery completed dependent on the mileage of the
delivery, ” and no other compensation. (ECF No. 17 at
¶ 25.) NAPA and TAP schedule Plaintiffs to perform the
delivery work from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. from Monday through
Friday, plus at least one 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday
shift per month. (Id. at ¶ 26.) Thus, while
Plaintiffs “regularly work more than 40 hours per week,
” defendants allegedly do not pay Plaintiffs additional
compensation for overtime work and do not pay Plaintiffs the
minimum wage for every hour of work performed. (Id.
at ¶¶ 33-34.)
addition, plaintiff Spencer Brown alleges two individual
claims: first, for retaliation under the FLSA; second, for
abusive discharge in violation of the public policy of the
State of Maryland. (ECF No. 17 at ¶¶ 89-103.) These
claims are unique to Mr. Brown and separate from the putative
class claims. Through these causes of action, Mr. Brown seeks
to hold defendants liable for taking retaliatory, adverse
actions against him based on his filing of the instant
lawsuit-a protected activity under the FLSA and MWHL.
RRD has filed a counterclaim for breach of contract against
Plaintiffs. (ECF No. 34 at 14-18.) RRD alleges that each of
the named Plaintiffs entered into a valid contract with RRD,
the “Independent Contractor Agreement”
(“ICA”), to perform messenger delivery services
for RRD. (Counterclaim, ECF No. 34 at ¶ 3.) The ICA
purports to define the legal relationship between RRD and
each plaintiff as one “of service recipient and
independent contractor.” (Id. at ¶ 4.)
RRD asserts that Plaintiffs' lawsuit against RRD is
“in direct contravention to the express terms of
the” ICA and seeks indemnification for costs and
attorney's fees incurred defending against
plaintiffs' claims. (Id. at ¶¶ 12-14.)
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes
the dismissal of a complaint if it fails to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The
purpose of Rule 12(b)(6) is “to test the sufficiency of
a complaint and not to resolve contests surrounding the
facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of
defenses.” Presley v. City of Charlottesville,
464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006); see also Goines v.
Valley Cmty. Servs. Bd., 822 F.3d 159, 165-66 (4th Cir.
2016). The sufficiency of a complaint is assessed by
reference to the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a)(2), which
provides that a complaint must contain a “short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).
survive a motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a complaint
must contain facts sufficient to “state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl.,
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007); Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009). Under the
plausibility standard, a complaint must contain “more
than labels and conclusions” or a “formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; see Painter's Mill
Grille, LLC v. Brown, 716 F.3d 342, 350 (4th Cir. 2013).
reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court “‘must
accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in
the complaint'” and must “‘draw all
reasonable inferences [from those facts] in favor of the
plaintiff.'” E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.
v. Kolon Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 440 (4th Cir. 2011)
(citations omitted); see Houck v. Substitute Tr. Servs.,
Inc., 791 F.3d 473, 484 (4th Cir. 2015). While a court
must accept as true all the factual allegations contained in
the complaint, legal conclusions drawn from those facts are
not afforded such deference. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(“[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice” to plead a claim); see A Society Without a
Name v. Virginia, 655 F.3d 342, 346 (4th. Cir. 2011).
Defendants' Motions to Dismiss Count VII of