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Pinto v. The Reserve at Opelika

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

November 27, 2018

ARTURO PINTO, Plaintiff,
v.
THE RESERVE AT OPELIKA, et al, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          DAVID A. BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, Arturo Pinto, sues Defendants, The Reserve at Opelika; Brookhaven Management Group, LLC; Joshua Lapides; St. Jean Clermont TIC, LLC; and St. Jean, TIC II, LLC, [1] in an eight-count Amended Complaint alleging discrimination based on race and national origin, retaliation, violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and state law wage claims. (Doc. 32). Before the court are Motions to Dismiss filed by the Defendants. (Docs. 33, 42). The matters have been fully briefed by the parties, and the court heard argument on September 25, 2018.[2] For the reasons that follow, the court grants the motions to dismiss (Docs. 33, 42) and allows Plaintiff leave to amend as set forth below.

         I. Jurisdiction

         The jurisdiction of the court is invoked pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1343(4), 2201 and 2202 and pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq. St. Jean Clermont TIC, LLC and St. Jean, TIC II, LLC (the "St. Jean Defendants") contest personal jurisdiction.

         II. Background and Statement of Facts[3]

         Plaintiff, Arturo Pinto, is a Hispanic male born in Honduras and employed by one or more of the Defendants to work as a carpenter at a location in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, beginning in July 2015. (Doc. 32, ¶¶ 17-19). He alleges that Defendant, The Reserve at Opelika, is an Alabama corporation and that Brookhaven Management Group, LLC d/b/a The Reserve at Opelika ("Brookhaven") is a New Jersey company doing business in the State of Alabama. Id. ¶¶ 11-12. Both entities employ more than fifteen employees. Id. Defendant Joshua Lapides is the owner of Brookhaven and was responsible for supervising the day-to-day activities of Plaintiff while he worked for Defendants in Louisiana and Alabama. Id. ¶ 13. Plaintiff alleges the St. Jean Defendants are registered in Delaware but do business in the State of Alabama and employ more than fifteen employees. Id.¶¶ 14-15.

         For a period of time in 2015 and/or 2016, Plaintiff lived in an apartment complex in Baton Rouge, Louisiana owned by the St. Jean Defendants while he worked for Defendants. Id. ¶¶ 20-21. Defendant Lapides was employed by the St. Jean Defendants to supervise Plaintiff and other employees. Id. ¶ 22. Plaintiff worked as a carpenter for Defendants in Louisiana and Alabama. Id. ¶ 24. On January 4, 2016, Lapides transferred Plaintiff from Louisiana to an apartment in Opelika, Alabama, which was owned by The Reserve at Opelika and operated by Brookhaven. Id. ¶ 25. As part of the transfer, Defendants promised Plaintiff an increase in his hourly rate, a $100.00 per week per diem, and a rent-free apartment. Id. ¶¶ 42, 44, 46. According to Plaintiff, Defendants did not provide any of the benefits promised. Id. ¶¶ 43, 45, 48.

         Defendants assigned job duties to Plaintiff such that he worked alone and apart from the other workers. Id. ¶ 49. Plaintiff complained to Saul Williams about his workload, the difference in his pay and benefits compared to African-American employees, and his isolation issues.[4] Id. ¶ 52. He was the only Hispanic employed by Defendants. Id. ¶ 50. Plaintiff worked continuously for Defendants under the supervision of Lapides. Id. ¶ 29. Defendants terminated Plaintiff on March 3, 2016. Id. ¶ 30. Shortly after Plaintiffs termination, Defendants placed a non-Hispanic male in Plaintiffs former position. Id. ¶ 32.

         In an eight-count amended complaint, Plaintiff sues Defendants for violations of Title VII (Counts 1 and 2) and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (Counts 3 and 4) on the basis of race and national origin, for Title VII (Count 5) and Section 1981 (Count 6) retaliation claims, and for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (Count 7) and unpaid wages (Count 8). (Doc. 32). He seeks injunctive, equitable, and monetary relief. Id. at 17-18.

         The St. Jean Defendants move to dismiss the amended complaint arguing that no allegations establish they are Plaintiffs employer under the FLSA, Title VII, or Section 1981. These Defendants dispute the court's personal jurisdiction over them or that venue is proper because they do not transact business in Alabama, do not employ individuals in Alabama, do not own real estate in Alabama, and do not maintain an office in Alabama, . Additionally, they claim that Plaintiff has failed to satisfy the administrative prerequisites to assert a Title VII claim. Procedurally, these Defendants claim that the amended complaint suffers from the same deficiencies of being a shotgun pleading as the initial complaint in that Plaintiff fails to identify which factual allegations and claims are directed to which Defendants. (Doc. 33).

         The Reserve at Opelika, Brookhaven and Lapides also move to dismiss the amended complaint arguing The Reserve at Opelika is not a proper entity to be sued, the amended complaint is untimely, Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies, the Plaintiffs amended complaint is legally deficient, Plaintiff fails to allege these Defendants employed him for purposes of his FLSA and state law wage claims, and Plaintiffs shotgun allegations make it impossible for Defendants to decipher which allegations are being asserted against which Defendants. (Docs. 42, 43). Plaintiff filed responses in opposition and Defendants replied. (Docs. 45-47, 57).

         III. Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 provides that a complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The pleader must allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "Retailed factual allegations" are not required, but mere "labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" are not enough. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). On a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a court "accept[s] the allegations in the complaint as true and construes] them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Hill v. White, 321 F.3d 1334, 1335 (11th Cir. 2003).

         IV. ...


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