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Chambers v. Groome Transportation of Alabama, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Eastern Division

December 12, 2014

NETTIE CHAMBERS, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
GROOME TRANSPORTATION OF ALABAMA, INC., et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

W. KEITH WATKINS, Chief District Judge.

Before the court is a Motion to Dismiss Individual Defendants (Doc. # 7), filed by Defendants Harold V. Groome, Jr., Harold V. Groome III, and Christopher Groome ("individual Defendants"), pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2) and (b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiffs do not oppose the dismissal of their claims against the individual Defendants for alleged violations of the Workers' Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 2101-09 ("WARN Act"), but they contend that they have pleaded sufficient facts to support the exercise of personal jurisdiction over the individual Defendants and to state a claim for relief against the individual Defendants for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-19. (Doc. # 18, at 1.) After careful consideration of the arguments of counsel, the relevant law, and the Complaint's allegations, the court finds that the motion to dismiss is due to be granted in part and denied in part.

I. JURISDICTION AND VENUE

Subject-matter jurisdiction is proper pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and venue is not contested. This opinion addresses the court's personal jurisdiction over the individual Defendants.

II. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

A. Rule 12(b)(2)

A Rule 12(b)(2) motion tests the court's exercise of personal jurisdiction over a defendant. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2). In this case, Plaintiffs bear the burden of "establish[ing] a prima facie case of personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant." Madara v. Hall, 916 F.2d 1510, 1514 (11th Cir. 1990). The allegations in the Complaint are presumed true because they are uncontroverted by evidence. See id.

B. Rule 12(b)(6)

When evaluating a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the court must take the facts alleged in the complaint as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Resnick v. AvMed, Inc., 693 F.3d 1317, 1321-22 (11th Cir. 2012). To survive Rule 12(b)(6) scrutiny, "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 Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "[F]acial 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." Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

III. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs are former employees of Groome Transportation of Alabama, Inc., which had contracted with Auburn University to provide shuttle bus services for its students. Plaintiffs worked as shuttle bus drivers, transporting students within Auburn's city limits, principally on Auburn University's campus, beginning prior to April 2012 and continuing until July 2013 when Groome Transportation closed its area plant. (Compl. ¶ 16.)

On April 2, 2014, Plaintiffs filed this action against Groome Transportation and the individual Defendants. The Complaint contains two counts. In Count One, which alleges violations of the FLSA, Plaintiffs contend that from approximately April 1, 2012, to November 30, 2012, Groome Transportation did not adequately compensate them for hours worked in excess of forty hours per week. See 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1) (requiring that employees who work in excess of forty hours per week be compensated "at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate at which he is employed"). Plaintiffs seek unpaid overtime wages in a collective action under the FLSA. In Count Two, Plaintiffs bring a claim under the WARN Act, individually and as representatives of a proposed class, alleging that Groome Transportation failed to give the minimum sixty-day written notice to its employees as required by the WARN Act. Plaintiffs seek all relief available under the WARN Act, including sixty days back pay.

Defendant Groome Transportation responded to the Complaint with a motion to compel arbitration. A prior Order denied that motion as to twenty of the forty-five Plaintiffs and granted the motion as to twenty-five Plaintiffs. This action against Groome Transportation and the individual Defendants for alleged violations of the WARN Act and the FLSA proceeds, therefore, as to twenty Plaintiffs.[1]

Pending is the individual Defendants' motion to dismiss the WARN Act and FLSA claims. The individual Defendants invoke Rule 12(b)(2) and (b)(6), and ...


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