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Radfar v. Rockville Auto Group LLC

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

June 12, 2018

FARHAD RADFAR, Plaintiff,
v.
ROCKV1LLE AUTO GROUP LLC, et at, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          GEORGE J. HAZEL United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Farhad Radfar, on behalf of himself and others similarly situated, brings this action against his former employer. Defendants Rockville Auto Group. LLC. Tuba Hamedi. and Abdullah Razaq (collectively. "Defendants") for failure to pay overtime and minimum wages as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act. 29 U.S.C. § 201 el seq. ("FLSA") and the Maryland Wage and Hour Law. Md. Code. Ann. Lab. & Empl § 3-501 el seq. ("MWHL"). Now pending before the Court is Plaintiffs Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint. ECF No. 14. and Motion to Conditionally Certify a Collective Action. ECF No. 15.[1] No hearing is necessary. Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the following reasons. Plaintiffs Motion to Amend is denied, in part, and granted, in part, and Plaintiffs Motion to Conditionally Certify a Collective Action is denied.

         I. BACKGROUND [2]

         Defendants operate a car dealership in Gaithersburg. Maryland and "consistently advertised, bought and sold vehicles to vendors and clientele outside of the State of Maryland." ECF No. 14-1 ¶ 6.[3] Plaintiff worked for Defendants from approximately September 2014 to May 2016. Id. ¶ 12. Throughout his employment. Plaintiff alleges that he performed non-managerial and non-exempt work including purchasing parts and vehicles at auction with company funds, transporting vehicles to other lots and between vendors and purchasers, and delivering purchased vehicles to customers. Id. ¶ 13. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants authorized and required Plaintiff to work approximately 55 hours each week but did not pay Plaintiff overtime and minimum wages as required by Federal and State law. Id. ¶ 14. Plaintiff alleges that he was compensated at a standard weekly rate, resulting in the following effective hourly rates: $5.45 per hour from September 2014 through April 2015: $6.36 per hour from April 2015 through August 2015: and $7.27 per hour from August 2015 through May 2016. Id. ¶¶ 17-19.[4] Plaintiff alleges that although he was a long-term employee. Defendants paid Plaintiff as a "1099 employee" and did not classify Plaintiff as a "W-2 employee" or provide him with paystubs and paychecks until January 2016. Id. ¶ 15.

         Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants failed to pay other similarly situated employees ("Putative Plaintiffs") overtime and minimum wages as required by Federal and State law. Id. ¶¶ 24. 26. According to Plaintiff. Defendants exercised a high degree of control over Plaintiffs and Putative Plaintiffs" employment, including hiring, firing, setting wage rates, sending paychecks, determining hours of employment and job duties, and establishing rules and regulations. Id. ¶¶ 28. 29. 31.

         Plaintiff initially brought claims for violations of the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the FLSA and MWHL on behalf of himself (Count 1. III. V-XI) and claims for violations of the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the FSLA on behalf of Putative Plaintiffs (Count III. V). ECF No. 1, [5] Defendants Hamedi and Razaq filed an Answer on November 11. 2016. Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to Amend his Complaint and Motion to Conditionally Certify a Collective Action on December 22. 2017. ECF Nos. 14: 15. Defendants did not file a response in opposition to either Motion, and. on February 5. 2018. Plaintiff filed a Renewed Motion. ECF No. 16. On February 20. Defendants filed a Response in Opposition to Plaintiffs Renewed Motion-sixty days after Plaintiff filed his initial Motions and fifteen days after his Renewed Motion. ECF No. 17.

         II. DISCUSSION

         Pursuant to Local Rule 105.2(a). "all memoranda in opposition to a motion shall be filed within fourteen (14) days of the service of the motion." Defendants did not file a timely memorandum in opposition, seek leave of Court for additional time, or provide any justification for their failure to do so. See H & W Fresh Seafoods, Inc. v. Schulman, 200 F.R.D. 248. 252 (D. Md. 2000) aff d 30 F. App"x 75 (4th Cir. 2002} (noting that because Rule 105.2(a) does not specify the consequence to be administered if the deadline is not met. the Court may decide whether to consider an untimely opposition): Curtis v. Evans, No. DKC 2003-2774. 2004 WL, 1175227. at * 1 (D. Md. May 27. 2004) (granting motion to strike a plaintiffs untimely opposition that fails to "explain the reasons, if any, for his tardy opposition"). Therefore, the Court will not accept Defendants* Opposition in Response. ECF No. 17. and will consider Plaintiffs Motions to be uncontested.

         Although Plaintiffs motions are uncontested, the Court must exercise its judgment before granting them. See. e.g.. Issa v. Comp USA, 354 F.3d 1174. 1178 (10th Cir. 2003) ("even if a plaintiff does not file a response to a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the district court must still examine the allegations in the plaintiffs complaint and determine whether the plaintiff has stated a claim upon which relief can be granted"): Brawn v, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. 226 F.R.D. 526. 527 (M.D. N.C. 2004) (reviewing the merits of an uncontested motion to dismiss "in the interest of justice." even though local rules permitted the court to grant the uncontested motion without further notice). Upon review, the Court finds that the Motions do not meet the requisite legal standards and will be denied.

         A. Motion for Leave to Amend

         Plaintiff moves for leave to amend his Complaint to account "for the lack of rebuttal documentation from the defendant that have occurred since the original complaint was filed." ECF No. 14 at 1. Plaintiffs motion does not make clear what developments necessitate an Amended Complaint, and Plaintiff has not filed "a copy of the amended pleading in which stricken material has been lined through or enclosed in brackets and new material has been underlined or set forth in bold-laced type" as required by the Court's Local Rules so that the Court can easily decipher what additions Plaintiff seeks to make. See Loc. R. 103.6(c) (D. Md. 2016). Regardless, the Court recognizes two substantive changes in Plaintiffs Amended Complaint. First. Plaintiff adds a new claim for breach of contract. ECF No. 14-1 at 22 (Amended Complaint Count XIII). Plaintiff alleges that he lent Defendants $75, 000 pursuant to a promissory note executed in 2009 and seeks recovery of the remaining balance of $44, 000 due on the note. ECF No. 14-1 at 7. Second. Plaintiff adds a new claim entitled "Rockville Auto Group's Misclassification of Its Service Agents as Independent Contractors Deprived Them of Tax Benefits and Other Employee Benefit Rights." EGF No. 14-1 at 8.

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2), plaintiffs may amend their complaint with the court's leave, and "[t]he court should freely give leave when justice so requires." "'[T]he general rule is that leave to amend a complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) should be freely given, unless the amendment would be prejudicial to the opposing party, there has been bad faith on the part of the moving party, or the amendment would have been futile." Steinburg v. Chesterfield Cnty. Planning Comm'n. 527 F.3d 377. 390 (4th Cir. 2008) (citations omitted). Because the Court does not have jurisdiction over Plaintiffs proposed breach of contract claim, the amendment is futile and will be denied as to that added claim.

         The Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiffs breach of contract claim under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 because the claim does not raise a federal question. Nor does the Court have jurisdiction under § 1332-the amount in controversy is less than $75, 000 and the parties do not have complete diversity because both Plaintiff and Defendant Rockville Auto Group. LLC are Maryland citizens. Therefore, the Court may only hear Plaintiffs breach of contract claim if it both has and chooses to exercise supplemental jurisdiction under § 1367. which provides that:

in any civil action of which the district courts have original jurisdiction, the district courts shall have supplemental jurisdiction over all other claims that are so related to claims in the action within such original jurisdiction that they form ...

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