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Delbert Sturm, An Individual v. Cb Transport

June 28, 2012

DELBERT STURM, AN INDIVIDUAL,
RICHARD D. FERGUSON, AN INDIVIDUAL, DWAYNE YOLK, AN INDIVIDUAL,
STAN DALRYMPLE, AN INDIVIDUAL,
OCTAVIO CRUZ, JR., AN INDIVIDUAL, SANTOS REYES, AN INDIVIDUAL, JASON MILLER, AN INDIVIDUAL, PAT STEPHEN GUNN, AN INDIVIDUAL, CHRIS HOLMAN, AN INDIVIDUAL, AND JOHN DOES 1-20,
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CB TRANSPORT, INC., A FOREIGN CORPORATION,
DEFENDANT.



MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Before the Court is Defendant CB Transport, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint, brought under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). The parties have had an opportunity to submit briefs, and the matter is now ripe for the Court's review. Having reviewed the parties' briefs and the records as a whole, the Court finds that the pertinent facts and legal contentions are sufficiently presented in the parties' written materials, and that oral argument would not assist in the resolution of this matter. Therefore, under Dist. Idaho L. Rule 7.1, the Court will decide Defendant's motion without oral argument. After carefully considering the parties' arguments and relevant legal authorities, Defendant's motion will be denied, as further explained below.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Nine current and former employees of Defendant CB Transport, Inc. ("CB") filed suit against their employer for violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") in Idaho state court on October 31, 2011. Plaintiffs amended their complaint on February 17, 2012. CB removed the case to this Court on March 6, 2012, on the grounds that the complaint arises under federal law, and filed its motion to dismiss on March 14, 2012.

In the amended complaint, Plaintiffs allege that they are current or former employees of CB whose primary duties are or were to transport milk from dairies located in Idaho to milk processing plants also located in Idaho. CB allegedly is in the business of transporting unprocessed milk from Idaho dairy farms to milk processing plants. Plaintiffs drove the vehicles to and from the processing facilities.

Plaintiffs contend that, between September 1, 2009, and the present date, they were paid hourly and, in "several instances," they worked in excess of forty hours per week while performing truck driving services for CB. Plaintiffs allege that CB is required to pay overtime wages in accordance with the FLSA and Idaho law, but failed to do so for those hours worked in excess of forty hours in a work week. Plaintiffs seek damages in the form of their unpaid wages found due and owing under Idaho's wage claim act, Idaho Code § 45-615 et. seq., or alternatively under the FLSA.

CB moves to dismiss Plaintiffs' amended complaint on the grounds that it does not state a claim upon which relief can be granted because Plaintiffs do not plead enough factual matter to give rise to a claim under the FLSA. In addition, CB claims that the allegations in the amended complaint do not sufficiently plead factual matter to refute CB's claimed exemption to the FLSA under the Motor Carrier Act. CB claims also that Plaintiffs do not plead sufficient facts to establish willfulness, which is required to apply the three year statute of limitations instead of the default two year limitations period. Finally, CB contends that Plaintiffs' state law claims are either preempted by the FLSA, or barred by the six month statute of limitations contained in Idaho Code § 45-614.

ANALYSIS

1.Legal Standard

In reviewing a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), all allegations of material fact are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Thompson v. Davis, 295 F.3d 890, 895 (9th Cir.2002). However, a complaint, or portions thereof, will be dismissed if the plaintiff cannot establish "any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 562 (2007); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly with approval). A complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss "does not need detailed factual allegations ... but requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atlantic Corp., 550 U.S. at 555 (internal citations omitted). "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Id. The complaint must plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570. "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

2.Dismissal of Plaintiffs' Complaint Is Not Warranted

The FLSA regulates minimum wage, overtime pay, equal pay, and child labor, and prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who exercise their rights under the FLSA. Section 207 of the FLSA provides that no employer "shall employ any of his employees who in a workweek is engaged in commerce ... or is employed in an enterprise engaged in commerce ... for a workweek longer than forty hours unless such employee receives compensation" for hours worked in excess of forty hours "at a rate not less than one and one half times" the rate at which he is regularly employed. 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1). The requirements to state a claim under FLSA are, therefore, quite straightforward.

Contrary to CB's argument that Plaintiffs' allegations are conclusory and therefore do not meet the pleading standard under Iqbal, Federal courts have held that, despite Iqbal, extensive pleading is not required in the context of an FLSA claim. See Hellenberg v. Integrated Deicing Servs., LLC, No. 10-CV-11364, 2011 WL 317733 *2 (E.D. Mich. Feb. 1, 2011) (and cases cited therein). The Court disagrees with CB's argument. The amended complaint alleges that Plaintiffs were or still are employed by CB and paid on an hourly basis, they worked overtime in excess of forty hours per week from September 1, 2009, and they have been denied overtime pay for those hours worked in excess of forty hours in a workweek on numerous occasions. Plaintiffs have stated sufficient facts to constitute a cause of action under the FLSA against CB. Uriarte v. City of Calexico, No. 10-cv-498, 2011 WL 2015215 *1 (S.D. Cal. May 23, 2011) (finding on the same type of pleading that plaintiff stated a cause of action under the FLSA).

CB next argues that the amended complaint does not contain sufficient facts refuting the application of the Motor Carrier Act exemption under the FLSA. The Motor Carrier Act exemption, 29 U.S.C. § 213(b)(1), exempts employers from the FLSA overtime requirements if the employer can establish that a driver can reasonably be expected to drive across state lines; or that drivers hauled goods in "the practical continuity of movement" in interstate commerce. Watkins v. Ameripride Serv., 375 F.3d 821, 825-26 (9th Cir. 2004). See also Shoemaker v. United Parcel Serv., ...


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