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Wendy Dobbins, Individually and On Behalf of Persons Similarly v. Scriptfleet

February 23, 2012

WENDY DOBBINS, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF PERSONS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SCRIPTFLEET, INC., A FLORIDA CORPORATION, F/K/A NETWORK EXPRESS, AND XYZ ENTITIES 1-10, FICTITIOUS NAMES OF UNKNOWN LIABLE ENTITIES, DEFENDANTS.



ORDER

This cause comes before the Court on Defendant Scriptfleet, Inc.'s ("Scriptfleet") Motion to Dismiss under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and 8(a). (Doc. No. 20). Plaintiff Wendy Dobbins ("Dobbins") filed a response in opposition to the motion. (Doc. No. 31). For the reasons stated herein, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

I. Background

On October 11, 2011, Dobbins filed her Amended Class Action Complaint (Doc. No. 10) for overtime compensation and other relief under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq. ("FLSA"), and also under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, Fla. Stat. Ann. §§ 501.201 et seq. ("FDUTPA"). In her Amended Class Action Complaint, Dobbins alleges the following: Dobbins worked for Defendants as a courier from approximately August 2007 until July 2011. Her duties included driving and delivering various goods for Defendants' customers and completing all necessary paperwork associated with such deliveries. Although Dobbins was an employee of Defendants, Defendants misclassified her and other couriers as independent contractors.

In Count I, Dobbins asserts that as a result of this misclassification, she and other couriers were deprived of overtime wages in violation of the FLSA. In Count II, Dobbins asserts that Defendants' conduct of misclassifying her and other couriers as independent contractors caused them to suffer deductions and incur expenses under federal and state law that would not have occurred had they been properly classified as employees. As a result, such misclassification constituted an unconscionable or deceptive act or practice in the conduct of trade or commerce in violation of the FDUTPA. In Count III, also under the FDUTPA, Dobbins requests the Court declare Defendants to be in violation of FDUTPA and to enjoin Defendants from continuing to misclassify their employees as independent contractors.

II. Standard of Review

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires a pleading to contain a short and plain statement of the claim showing the pleader is entitled to relief in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citation omitted). Although Rule 8 does not require a claimant to set out in detail the facts upon which he bases his claim, "it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, __, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009).

To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must allege sufficient facts, accepted as true, to state a plausible claim for relief. Id. Where a complaint contains well-pleaded facts, if those facts "do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct," the complaint stops short of plausibility and does not show the plaintiff is entitled to relief. Id. at 1950. Furthermore, while the Court must assume that all of the factual allegations in the complaint are true, this assumption is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Id. at 1949. The door to discovery will not open for a plaintiff "armed with nothing more than conclusions." Id. at 1950.

III. Discussion

On November 14, 2011, Defendant Scriptfleet filed the instant Motion to Dismiss in which it asserts multiple grounds for dismissal. First, Scriptfleet argues that Dobbins failed to plead sufficient facts to establish jurisdiction under the FLSA, to establish an employment relationship under the FLSA, or to state a claim for unpaid overtime wages under the statute. Furthermore, Scriptfleet argues the Dobbins does not have standing to assert a claim under FDUTPA because Dobbins is not a consumer, because no trade or commerce has taken place between Scriptfleet and Dobbins, and because the damages sought by Dobbins are not recoverable under the statute.

A. Sufficiency of the Pleading Under the FLSA

In Count I, Dobbins alleges that Defendants violated the FLSA by mischaracterizing her and other couriers as independent contractors rather than as non-exempt employees, thereby depriving them of overtime pay. In its motion, Scriptfleet argues that Dobbins has supported this claim with "nothing more than boilerplate recitations of legal elements and conclusory assertions of liability," and therefore has failed to plead sufficient facts to state a claim under the FLSA.

Specifically, Scriptfleet first argues that Dobbins did not plead sufficient facts to establish the jurisdictional prerequisite of interstate commerce under the FLSA. Scriptfleet contends that Dobbins must plead facts that establish jurisdiction, and "must do more than assert a rote legal conclusion" concerning jurisdiction.

Here, Dobbins alleges that she was employed by Scriptfleet or its subsidiaries as a courier. (Doc. No. 10, ¶ 3-4). She alleges that Scriptfleet was "engaged in interstate commerce or in the production of goods for commerce as defined in 29 U.S.C. § 203(r) and 203(s)." (Doc. No. 10, ¶ 13). Based upon information and belief, Dobbins also alleged that "the annual gross sales volume of each of the Defendants was in excess of $500,000.00 per annum." (Doc. No. 10, ¶ 13). She also alleges that she and others similarly situated were "individually engaged in commerce." (Doc. No. 10, ¶ 14).

The Court concludes that these allegations are sufficient at this stage of the litigation to demonstrate the jurisdictional prerequisite of interstate commerce. "[T]he requirements to state a claim of a FLSA violation are quite straightforward." Sec'y of Labor v. Labbe, 319 F. App'x 761, 763 (11th Cir. 2008). "The elements that must be shown are simply a failure to pay overtime compensation and/or minimum wages to covered employees and/or failure to keep payroll records in accordance with the act." Id. At this stage of the proceeding, ...


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