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Scali-Warner v. N&TS Group Corp.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

March 12, 2019

FABIA SCALI-WARNER
v.
N&TS GROUP CORPORATION, et al.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          DEBORAH K. CHASANOW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Presently pending and ready for resolution in this employment case are (1) the motion to dismiss amended complaint (ECF No. 16) filed by Defendants N&TS Group Corporation (“N&TS”), Claudio Novebaci, Stefania Federici, and Valerio Masenzani (“Defendants”), (2) the motion for leave to file second amended complaint (ECF No. 19) filed by Plaintiff Fabia Scali-Warner (“Plaintiff”), and (3) the motion to dismiss second amended complaint (ECF No. 20) filed by Defendants. The issues have been fully briefed, and the court now rules, no hearing being deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the following reasons, the motion for leave to file second amended complaint will be denied, the motion to dismiss second amended complaint will be denied as moot, and the motion to dismiss amended complaint will be granted. Plaintiff will be granted 21 days within which to file a proposed third amended complaint, properly delineating her claims and articulating sufficient facts to establish liability for the individual defendants.

         I. Background

         A. Factual Background[1]

         “N&TS is a company that provides electronic payment processing services technology to corporations.” (ECF. No. 19-1, at 1). Plaintiff was employed as a “Client Liaison and represented N&TS throughout the United States.” (Id.). Pursuant to a “written contract, ” Plaintiff was paid $250.00 per-day “for eight hours' work for market developing[.]” (Id., at 3). In addition, Plaintiff translated documents for N&TS at the rate of $0.11 per-word, “a standard rate in the industry.” (Id.). “Plaintiff left her work with N&TS in December 2017.” (Id., at 2). “On or around December 15, 2017, Plaintiff sent an invoice for translation to Defendant N&TS in the amount of $10, 885.71.” (Id., at 4). Plaintiff alleges that N&TS “failed to respond” and did not “pay for the translating work.” (Id., at 3-4). Plaintiff contends that Defendants did not pay her minimum wage or overtime.

         B. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff commenced this action in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County on April 10, 2018. Defendants filed a notice of removal in this court on June 28, 2018. (ECF No. 1). All four Defendants filed individual motions to dismiss on July 6, 2018. (ECF Nos. 3-7). On July 20, 2018, Plaintiff filed an opposition in response to the motions to dismiss and an amended complaint. (ECF Nos. 11 & 12). On August 13, 2018, a paperless order was issued denying Defendants' individual motions to dismiss as moot. (ECF No. 17). Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint on August 10, 2018. (ECF No. 16). Plaintiff responded on August 24, 2018 (ECF No. 17) and also filed a motion for leave to file second amended complaint (ECF No. 19). Defendants filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's second amended complaint on September 7, 2018. (ECF No. 20). Plaintiff responded on September 21, 2018. (ECF No. 21).

         Plaintiff asserts the following claims against all Defendants: (1) violation of the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law (“MWPCL”) (count I); (2) failure to pay minimum wage and overtime in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) (count II); and (3) failure to pay overtime in violation of the Maryland Wage and Hour Law (“MWHL”) (count IV). (Id., at 5-8). Plaintiff also asserts a breach of contract claim against Defendant N&TS (count III). (Id., at 6).

         For the reasons that follow, leave to file the second amended complaint will be denied, thus mooting the motion to dismiss the second amended complaint. The first amended complaint, which is even less detailed, also fails to state a claim and will be dismissed. Plaintiff will be granted one final opportunity to file a third amended complaint.

         II. Analysis

         A. Second Amended Complaint

         After the right to amend as a matter of course expires, “a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Rule 15(a)(2) provides that courts should “freely give leave [to amend] when justice so requires, ” and commits the matter to the discretion of the district court. See Simmons v. United Mortg. & Loan Inv., LLC, 634 F.3d 754, 769 (4th Cir. 2011). Refusal of such leave, without a justifying reason, is not only an abuse of discretion, but is “inconsistent with the spirit of the Federal Rules.” Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). Denial of leave to amend should occur only “when 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 be futile.” Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 242 (4th Cir. 1999) (emphasis omitted) (quoting Johnson v. Oroweat Foods Co., 785 F.2d 503, 509 (4th Cir. 1986)). Determinations of futility under Rule 15(a) are governed by the standard for motions to dismiss. Classen Immunotherapies, Inc. v. King Pharms., Inc., 403 F.Supp.2d 451, 459 (D.Md. 2005).

         A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the complaint. Presley v. City of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006). In evaluating the complaint, unsupported legal allegations need not be accepted. Revene v. Charles Cnty. Comm'rs, 882 F.2d 870, 873 (4th Cir. 1989). Legal conclusions couched as factual allegations are insufficient, Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009), 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.

         Although Defendants have not been prejudiced given the early stage at which Plaintiff sought leave to amend her complaint to include claims of unpaid overtime, leave to amend will be denied because both the proposed second ...


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