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Cooley v. HMR of Alabama, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division

January 22, 2018

JACQUELINE COOLEY, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
HMR OF ALABAMA, INC. d/b/a Robert L. Howard Veterans Home, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This civil action has been filed by 44 individual Plaintiffs[1] who allege in their Amended Complaint that the Defendant, HMR of Alabama, Inc. d/b/a Robert L. Howard Veterans Home (“HMR”), violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219 (the “FLSA”), by failing to pay them straight-time and/or overtime for work they performed during their unpaid lunch periods, and allegedly docking their work hours by 30 minutes for a meal period even if the Plaintiffs did not take a meal break. (Count One). (Doc. 40 at 15-118; ¶¶52-589). The Plaintiffs also allege that the Defendant owes them compensation pursuant to the theories of Quantum Meruit and “Work and Labor Done” (Count Two). (Doc. 40 at 118-127; ¶¶590-625). Count Two is brought as a purported class action pursuant to Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 1 at 20, ¶75).

         This case comes before the Court on the Defendant's Motion To Dismiss (the “Motion”). (Doc. 42). For the reasons stated herein, the Motion will be GRANTED.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The original Complaint, brought by the same Plaintiffs, was filed on August 30, 2016. (Doc. 1). The same FLSA claim appeared in that document in Count One, and the same purported class action “Quantum Meruit/Work and Labor Done” claim was set out as Count Three. In addition, in Count Two of the original Complaint, the Plaintiffs alleged that the Defendant breached an implied contract between themselves and the Defendant. In the original Complaint, the FLSA claims were brought as a collective action pursuant to 29 U.S.C. §§ 207 and 216(b). The collective action aspect of this action has been explicitly dropped in the Amended Complaint. (See doc. 40 at 15).

         On September 22, 2016, the Defendant filed a “Motion To Dismiss or Alternatively to Strike the Class Allegations.” (Doc. 6). On October 28, 2016, this Court ordered that “[d]scovery in the matter, and any requirements of Rule 26(a) and (f), are hereby STAYED until the Court rules on the pending motion to dismiss.” (Doc. 14). However, on November 18, 2016, the Court, upon reconsideration, lifted the stay as to “discovery directed solely to the issue of conditional class certification.” (Doc. 19 at 3).

         The case remained at a relative standstill until, on May 8, 2017, this Court denied the motion to dismiss Count Three, but, upon the Plaintiffs' concession, dismissed Count Two, with prejudice. (Doc. 37 at 22). Finally, after extensive analysis, the Court dismissed Count One, the FLSA claim, without prejudice, noting, in pertinent part:

[I]n order to plausibly state a claim for failure to pay overtime under the FLSA, the Plaintiffs must provide sufficient factual allegations to support a reasonable inference that they worked more than forty hours in at least one workweek and that the Defendant failed to pay the requisite overtime premium for those overtime hours.

(Doc. 37 at 14). The Court also held:

[W]hen a plaintiff alleges that he was required to perform work during periods of time, such as lunch, in which he ordinarily is not compensated, that the plaintiff should, at a minimum, allege the type of compensable work he performed during the meal periods.

(Doc. 37 at 20). The Court granted the Plaintiffs leave to re-file to “cure the pleading deficiencies noted as to Count One.” (Doc. 37 at 22). Hence the Amended Complaint.

         II. STANDARD

         Generally, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require only that the complaint provide “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). However, to survive a motion to dismiss brought under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007) (“Twombly”).

         A claim has facial plausibility “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556) (“Iqbal”). That is, the complaint must include enough facts “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation and footnote omitted). Pleadings that contain nothing more than “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” do not meet Rule 8 standards, nor do pleadings suffice that are based merely upon “labels or conclusions” or “naked assertion[s]” without supporting factual allegations. Id. at 555, 557 (citation omitted).

         Once a claim has been stated adequately, however, “it may be supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint.” Id. at 563 (citation omitted). Further, when ruling on a motion to dismiss, a court must “take the factual allegations in the complaint as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Pielage v. McConnell, 516 F.3d 1282, 1284 (11th Cir. 2008) (citing Glover v. Liggett Group, Inc., 459 F.3d 1304, 1308 (11th Cir. 2006)).

         III. ANALYSIS[2]

         The Defendant argues that

[t]he Plaintiffs have failed to comply with the Court's April 11, 2017, Memorandum Opinion and Order (the “Order”) (Doc. 37) directing them to identify the type of compensable work performed in order to state a claim under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and have failed to allege the essential element of a ...

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