United States District Court, D. Maryland
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
K. Bredar, Chief Judge.
case has been reassigned to the undersigned following
amendment of the complaint, which resulted in the addition of
two new parties who do not consent to the jurisdiction of a
magistrate judge to conduct all proceedings in the case. Now
pending before the Court is the motion of Defendant Carchex,
LLC ("Carchex"), to dismiss the amended complaint.
(ECF No. 89.) The motion has been briefed. (ECF Nos. 99,
101.) Also pending before the Court is Carchex's motion
to vacate the January 5, 201, 8, order of reference to a
magistrate judge for all proceedings or, alternatively, to
sever Carchex from the case. (ECF No. 91.) That motion has
also been briefed. (ECF Nos. 100, 102.) No. hearing is
required for either motion. Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016).
The motions will be denied.
Standard of Dismissal for Failure to State a
complaint must contain "sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face."' Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Facial plausibility
exists "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged."
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. An inference of a mere
possibility of misconduct is not sufficient to support a
plausible claim. Id. at 679. As the Twombly
opinion stated, "Factual allegations must be enough to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level."
550 U.S. at 555. "A pleading that offers 'labels and
conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.' . . . Nor
does a complaint suffice if it tenders 'naked
assertion[s]' devoid of 'further factual
enhancement."' Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557). Although
when considering a motion to dismiss a court must accept as
true all factual allegations in the complaint, this principle
does not apply to legal conclusions couched as factual
allegations. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
Allegations of the Amended Complaint
case is brought pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act of
1938, as amended, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et
seq., the Maryland Wage and Hour Law, Md. Code Ann.,
Lab. & Empl. §§ 3-401 et seq., and the
Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law, Md. Code Ann., Lab.
& Empl. §§ 3-501 et seq. Plaintiffs
allege they were employed by Defendants, named as National
Auto Inspections, LLC, trading as Carchex
("NAI"); Carchex, LLC ("Carchex"); and
Jason Goldsmith. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 50, 51.) Plaintiffs
all worked from Defendants' call center in Hunt Valley,
Maryland. (Id. ¶ 104.)
are engaged in the sale of vehicle-related insurance
products, including Extended Vehicle Protection Plans
("EVPP"), roadside assistance plans, and
prepurchase inspections. (Id. ¶¶ 43, 44.)
Defendants also provide assistance to customers for
acquisition of car insurance from Defendants' partners.
(Id. ¶ 44.) Defendants' business model is
to own and operate a call center. (Id. ¶ 45.)
During Plaintiffs' employment, they communicated with
consumers in various states for the purpose of making sales.
(Id. ¶ 49.) Each Plaintiff was employed for
various terms as an EVPP Specialist, also known as a Vehicle
Protection Specialist (generally referred to as
"Specialist"); every Plaintiffs specific term of
employment is alleged in the amended complaint. (Id.
¶¶ 52-90.) Defendants controlled Plaintiffs'
tasks, duties, hours, and rates and methods of pay.
(Id. ¶¶ 93-97.)
the products offered by Defendants and their partners,
Plaintiffs made calls to prospective customers and received
calls from prospective customers at the call center.
(Id. ¶ 105.) Outbound calls were generated from
leads provided by direct mail, referrals from Defendants'
partners, and potential customers' requests for
information through Defendants' website. (Id.)
During calls with prospective customers, Plaintiffs were
required to follow scripts developed by Defendants.
(Id. ¶¶ 106, 107.)
compensated Plaintiffs through a complex piece-rate system
that incorporated commissions, bonuses, and deductions.
(Id. ¶¶ 115-128.) The compensation plan
provided no additional compensation during weeks in which
Plaintiffs worked more than forty hours. (Id. ¶
129.) Regarding the hours Plaintiffs worked, the amended
complaint alleges the following:
130. Plaintiffs and other Specialists consistently worked
over forty (40) hours each week. Working overtime was
integral to their employment.
131. Plaintiffs were scheduled to work a minimum of
forty-five (45) hours per week. This was based on working
five (5) nine (9) hour shifts Monday through Friday. Each
shift was to include a one (1) hour break for lunch, however
Plaintiffs and other Specialists routinely worked through
lunch to cover Defendants' phones as well as increase
their sales numbers.
132. Plaintiffs and other Specialists were also scheduled to
work on the weekends. They all had to work at least one (1)
Saturday every three (3) weeks, which was a five (5) to nine
(9) hour shift.
133. During weeks when Plaintiffs and other Specialists were
scheduled to work on Saturdays, they had to work a minimum of
fifty (50) to fifty-four (54) hours per week. Therefore,
Plaintiffs and other Specialists consistently worked between
forty-five (45) and fifty-four (54) hours each week as a
result of their regular schedules.
134. Plaintiffs and other Specialists were scheduled to work
five (5) nine (9) hour shifts Monday through Friday. The
start time for each shift was dependent upon Defendants'
needs. Some Specialists would begin their shifts at 8:00 a.m.
Others would begin at 9:00 a.m. or 10:00 a.m. Some would
begin even later. This resulted in Plaintiffs and other
Specialists working staggered shifts.
135. Due to working staggered shifts, the time that
Plaintiffs' and other Specialists' shifts ended
varied. Depending on the time they actually arrived to work,
Plaintiffs and other Specialists would typically leave work
between 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Due to the ...