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Casorio-Sahin v. Pat's Select Pizza & Grill LLC

United States District Court, D. Maryland

March 13, 2019

CASSONDRA CASORIO-SAHIN, et al. Plaintiffs,
v.
PAT'S SELECT PIZZA & GRILL LLC, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          Richard D. Bennett, United States District Judge

         Plaintiffs, Cassondra Casorio-Sahin ("Casorio-Sahin"), Andres Quintana ("Quintana"), and Jonathan Thomas ("Thomas"), bring this putative class action against Pat's Select Pizza & Grill LLC ("Pat's Select"), Pat's Select Pizza & Grill of Cockeysville, MD, LLC ("Pat's Cockeysville"), Pat's Select Pizza & Grill of Severn, LLC (Pat's Severn"), Pat's Pizza of North East, Inc. ("Pat's Northeast"), Pat's Pizzeria of Aberdeen, LLC ("Pat's Aberdeen"), Pat's Pizza of Oxford, LLC ("Pat's Oxford"), Apostolos' Pizzerias, Inc. ("Apostolos"), "John Doe" Restaurants, Apostolos Kalaitzoglou ("Kalaitzoglou"), and Dimitri Tangalidis ("Tangalidis") (collectively, "Defendants") alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., Maryland Wage and Hour Law ("MWHL"), codified at Md. Code Ann., Labor & Emp. § 3-401 et seq.[1] Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law ("MWPCL"), codified at Md. Code Ann., Labor & Emp. § 3-501 et seq., Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act ("PMWA"), codified at Pa. Cons. Stat. § 333.101 et seq.[2] and Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law ("PWPCL"), codified at Pa. Cons. Stat. § 260.1 et. seq. (Compl, ECF No. 1.) Plaintiffs allege that Defendants failed to pay the minimum wage, overtime, and expense reimbursement as required by the law.

         Currently pending before this Court are two dismissal motions: (1) Defendants, Pat's Select Pizza & Grille of Severn, LLC, and Pat's Pizza of Oxford, LLC's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 18); and (2) Defendants, Pat's Select Pizza & Grill, LLC, Pat's Pizzeria of Aberdeen, LLC, Pat's Select Pizza & Grill of Cockeysville, MD, LLC, and Apostolos' Pizzerias, Inc.'s, Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 19). The parties' submissions have been reviewed, and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons that follow, Defendants' motions shall be DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         In ruling on a motion to dismiss, this Court "accept[s] as true all well-pleaded facts in a complaint and construe[sj them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Wikimedia Found, v. Nat'l Sec Agency, 857 F.3d 193, 208 (4th Cir. 2017) (citing SD3, LLC v. Black & Decker (U.S.) he, 801 F.3d 412, 422 (4th Cir. 2015)). Plaintiffs allege that Kalaitzoglou and Tangalidis own, control, or operate a chain of restaurants commonly known as Pat's Select Pizza & Grill, and similar restaurants, located in Maryland and Pennsylvania. (ECF No. 1 at¶ 1.) Plaintiffs also allege that all the Defendants operate as an integrated enterprise, with joint advertisements, the same website, same logos and trademarks, and marketing the same foods and sendees. (Id. at ¶ 3.) The Plaintiffs are hourly wage employees who have primarily worked either as delivery drivers or in the kitchen. (Id. at ¶ 10.) Plaintiffs allege that they were not paid in accordance with federal and state laws and seek to recover the wages and other damages to which they are entided under the FLSA and applicable state statutes.

         In brief, some of the Plaintiffs' specific complaints include:

• They were not paid the applicable minimum wage when performing work mat was not subject to tipping by patrons, such as sweeping floors, cleaning pans, folding pizza boxes, and painting;
• They personally incurred expenses such as uniform shirts and car and cellphone use for which they were not reimbursed; • They have not been paid time and a half for overtime hours; and
• They were not informed of minimum wage or tip credit requirements and policy.

(ECF No. 1 at ¶¶ 11-18.) Casorio-Sahin alleges that she was employed at Pat's Northeast. (Id. at 11.) Quintana alleges that he was employed primarily at Pat's Northeast and also sometimes worked for Pat's Select in Elkton. (Id. at 13.) Thomas alleges that he was employed at Pat's Northeast and also at Pat's Oxford. (Id. at 14.) Plaintiffs add that delivery drivers at the Northeast location have been tasked to help with deliveries and of her needs at the Oxford location, and employees from Elkton and the Northeast locations have often filled in at Oxford. (Id. at 5.) Also, sometimes employees from Oxford worked at Aberdeen, Northeast and Pasadena locations. (Id.)

         Pat's Select, Pat's Aberdeen, Pat's Cockeysville, Apostolos, Pat's Severn, and Pat's Oxford, (the "Moving Defendants") move to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim against them, specifically that Plaintiffs have failed to adequately allege an employer relationship with them and therefore lack standing to assert the claim against the corporate entities. (ECF Nos. 18, 19.) However, because Plaintiffs have adequately alleged facts, all of which are accepted as true at this stage of the litigation, sufficient to create a plausible inference that Moving Defendants qualify as a joint employer with the non-moving Defendants, Defendants motions shall be DENIED.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that a complaint contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Rule 12(b)(6) 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 United States Supreme Court's opinions in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twmbly,550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal,556 U.S. 662 (2009), require that complaints in civil actions be alleged with greater specificity than previously was required. While a court must accept as true all factual allegations contained in the complaint, legal conclusions drawn from those facts are not afforded such deference, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A complaint must set forth "enough factual matter (taken as true) to ...


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