United States District Court, D. Maryland
Lipton Hollander United States District Judge.
McFadden, plaintiff, filed suit against defendants L&J
Waste Recycling, LLC (“L&J”); Lenzie M.
Johnson, III (“Johnson III”); and Lenzie M.
Johnson, Jr. (“Johnson Jr.”), alleging violations
of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), as
amended, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201, et seq.; the
Maryland Wage and Hour Law (“MWHL”), as amended,
Md. Code (2016 Repl. Vol.), §§ 3-401 et
seq. of the Labor and Employment Article
(“L.E.”); and the Maryland Wage Payment and
Collection Law, as amended, L.E. §§ 3-501 et
seq. ECF 1. McFadden has brought his FLSA claim as a
collective action on behalf of all similarly situated
employees of the defendants. ECF 1 ¶¶ 32-47.
and Johnson III filed a “Motion to Dismiss for Failure
to State a Claim or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary
Judgment.” ECF 5. It is supported by a memorandum of
law (ECF 5-1) and two exhibits. ECF 5-2; ECF 5-3. Plaintiff
responded in opposition (ECF 11), supported by exhibits (ECF
11-2 through ECF 11-6), including a Declaration of plaintiff.
See ECF 11-4. Defendants replied. ECF 15. In
addition, Johnson Jr. filed a “Motion to Dismiss for
Failure to State a Claim or, in the Alternative, Motion for
Summary Judgment.” ECF 7. It is supported by a
memorandum of law (ECF 8) and two exhibits (ECF 8-1; ECF
8-2). Plaintiff opposes the motion (ECF 12), supported by
exhibits (ECF 12-2 through ECF 12-4), including his
Declaration. ECF 12-3. Defendant replied. ECF 16.
motions are fully briefed and no hearing is necessary to
resolve them. See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons
that follow, I decline to convert ECF 5 and ECF 7 to motions
for summary judgment. Instead, I shall construe them as
motions to dismiss, and I shall deny both motions.
L&J is “a waste management and recycling company,
” with its principal office located in Baltimore,
Maryland. ECF 1 ¶ 1. L&J is owned and operated by
Johnson Jr. and Johnson III. Id. ¶ 2. McFadden
alleges that he was employed by defendants from approximately
September 2014 to January 14, 2016, in the capacity of
“Plant Foreman.” Id. ¶¶ 6, 7.
In that position, plaintiff “perform[ed] various tasks
related to waste management and recycling.”
Id. ¶¶ 18-19. McFadden's
responsibilities included “starting up machines that
were used daily for sorting and recycling; hand sorting
materials such as wood, paper, stones and putting them in
large cans; and working with four (4) laborers.”
Id. ¶ 19.
“set employee schedules, including those of Plaintiff
and other similarly situated employees.” Id.
¶ 8. They also controlled plaintiff's duties, and
made all decisions relating to the rates and methods of his
pay. Id. ¶¶ 10-14. During plaintiff's
employment, he worked as an hourly employee, and received
“weekly payments reflecting a pay rate of $15 per
hour.” Id. ¶ 21.
and others similarly situated were routinely scheduled to
work more than forty hours per week. Id. ¶ 22.
Plaintiff regularly worked between fifty and sixty hours per
week. Id. But, he claims that he received weekly
payments reflecting “straight time, ” and was not
paid “time and a half for overtime hours worked.”
ECF 1 at 2; see also Id. ¶ 23.
Standards of Review
motions to dismiss are predicated on Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).
ECF 5; ECF 7. In the alternative, defendants moved for
summary judgment under Rule 56. Id.
defendant may test the legal sufficiency of a complaint by
way of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). Goines v.
Valley Cmty, Servs, Bd., 822 F.3d 159, 165-66 (4th Cir.
2016); McBurney v. Cuccinelli, 616 F.3d 393, 408
(4th Cir. 2010), aff'd sub nom. McBurney v.
Young, ___ U.S. ___, 133 S.Ct. 1709 (2013); Edwards
v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999).
A Rule 12(b)(6) motion constitutes an assertion by a
defendant that, even if the facts alleged by a plaintiff are
true, the complaint fails as a matter of law “to state
a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Whether a
complaint states a claim for relief is assessed by reference
to the pleading requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). It
provides that a complaint must contain a “short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” The purpose of the rule is to
provide the defendants with “fair notice” of the
claims and the “grounds” for entitlement to
relief. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
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.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570; see Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009) (“Our decision in
Twombly expounded the pleading standard for
‘all civil actions' . . . .” (citation
omitted)); see also Simmons v. United Mortg. &
Loan Inv., LLC, 634 F.3d 754, 768 (4th Cir. 2011).
But, a plaintiff need not include “detailed factual
allegations” in order to satisfy Rule 8(a)(2).
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Moreover, federal pleading
rules “do not countenance dismissal of a complaint for
imperfect statement of the legal theory supporting the claim
asserted.” Johnson v. City of Shelby, ___ U.S.
___, 135 S.Ct. 346, 346 (2014) (per curiam).
the rule demands more than bald accusations or mere
speculation. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; see
Painter's Mill Grille, LLC v. Brown, 716 F.3d 342,
350 (4th Cir. 2013). If a complaint provides no more than
“labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action, ” it
is insufficient. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Rather,
to satisfy the minimal requirements of Rule 8(a)(2), the
complaint must set forth “enough factual matter (taken
as true) to suggest” a cognizable cause of action,
“even if . . . [the] actual proof of those facts is
improbable and . . . recovery is very remote and
unlikely.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556 (internal
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); Kendall v.
Balcerzak, 650 F.3d 515, 522 (4th Cir. 2011), cert.
denied, ___ U.S. ___, 132 S.Ct. 402 (2011); Monroe
v. City of Charlottesville, 579 F.3d 380, 385-86 (4th
Cir. 2009), cert. denied, 559 U.S. 992 (2010). But,
a court is not required to accept legal conclusions drawn
from the facts. See Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265,
286 (1986). “A court decides whether [the pleading]
standard is met by separating the legal conclusions from the
factual allegations, assuming the truth of only the factual
allegations, and then determining whether those allegations
allow the court to reasonably infer” that the plaintiff
is entitled to the legal remedy sought. A Society Without
a Name v. Virginia, 655 F.3d 342, 346 (4th. Cir. 2011),
cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 132 S.Ct. 1960 (2012).
general, courts do not “resolve contests surrounding
the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of
defenses” through a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. Edwards
v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999).
The purpose of the rule is to ensure that defendants are
“given adequate notice of the nature of a claim”
made against them. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555- 56
(2007). But, “in the relatively rare circumstances
where facts sufficient to rule on an affirmative defense are
alleged in the complaint, the defense may be reached by a
motion to dismiss filed under Rule 12(b)(6).”
Goodman v. Praxair, Inc., 494 F.3d 458, 464 (4th
Cir. 2007) (en banc); accord Pressley v. Tupperware Long
Term Disability Plan, 533 F.3d 334, 336 (4th Cir. 2009);
see also U.S. ex rel. Oberg v. Penn. Higher Educ.
Assistance Agency, 745 F.3d 131, 148 (4th Cir. 2014).
However, because Rule 12(b)(6) “is intended [only] to
test the legal adequacy of the complaint, ”
Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac R.R. Co. v.
Forst, 4 F.3d 244, 250 (4th Cir. 1993), “[t]his
principle only applies . . . if all facts necessary to the
affirmative defense ‘clearly appear[ ] on the face of
the complaint.'” Goodman, 494 F.3d at 464
(quoting Forst, 4 F.3d at 250) (emphasis added in
limited exceptions, a court may consider documents beyond the
complaint without converting the motion to dismiss to one for
summary judgment. Goldfarb v. Mayor & City Council of
Baltimore, 791 F.3d 500, 508 (4th Cir. 2015). A court
may properly consider documents that are “explicitly
incorporated into the complaint by reference and those
attached to the complaint as exhibits . . . .”
Goines, 822 F.3d at 166 (citations omitted); see
U.S. ex rel. Oberg, 745 F.3d at 136 (quoting Philips
v. Pitt Cty Memorial Hosp., 572 F.3d 176, 180 (4th Cir.
2009)); Anand v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, 754 F.3d
195, 198 (4th Cir. 2014); Am. Chiropractic Ass'n v.
Trigon Healthcare, Inc., 367 F.3d 212, 234 (4th Cir.
2004), cert. denied, 543 U.S. 979 (2004);
Phillips v. LCI Int'l Inc., 190 F.3d 609, 618
(4th Cir. 1999). See Goldfarb, 791 F.3d at 511.
relevance here, a court may also “consider a document
submitted by the movant that was not attached to or expressly
incorporated in a complaint, so long as the document was
integral to the complaint and there is no dispute about the
document's authenticity.” Goines, 822 F.3d
at 166 (citations omitted). To be “integral, ” a
document must be one “that by its ‘very
existence, and not the mere information it contains, gives
rise to the legal rights asserted.'” Chesapeake
Bay Found., Inc. v. Severstal Sparrows Point, LLC, 794
F.Supp.2d 602, 611 (D. Md. 2011) (citation omitted) (emphasis
Johnson Jr. (ECF 5-2) and Johnson III (ECF 8-2) submitted
affidavits. The affidavits explain, inter
alia, the circumstances of plaintiff's employment,
but do not by their “‘very existence . . . give
rise to the legal rights asserted.'” See
Chesapeake Bay Found., 794 F.Supp.2d at 611 (citation
omitted). Accordingly, these exhibits are not integral to the
Complaint and cannot be considered in support of
defendants' motions to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).
See Goldfarb, 791 F.3d at 511.
submitted identical declarations as exhibits to both of his
oppositions. See ECF 11-4; ECF 12-3. The
declarations are consistent with, and also amplify, the facts
alleged in the Complaint. See id. However, they are
not integral to the ...