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Matthews v. Adjusterman, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

December 29, 2017

ALEXANDRA MATHEWS, Plaintiff,
v.
ADJUSTERMAN, LLC, and MICHAEL E. KLAVAN, Defendants.

          ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS

          BETH BLOOM UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         THIS CAUSE is before the Court upon Defendants' ADJUSTERMAN, LLC, and MICHAEL E. KLAVAN (collectively “Defendants”) Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint and or Motion for a More Definite Statement, ECF No. [3] (“Motion”). The Court has carefully reviewed the Motion, all opposing and supporting materials, the record in this case and the applicable law, and is otherwise fully advised. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Alexandra Mathews (“Plaintiff”) originally filed this action in the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit in and for Broward County, Florida. See ECF No. [1-1]. Thereafter, Defendants removed this action to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and filed this Motion. ECF Nos. [1] and [3]. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint alleges that Plaintiff entered into a written Public Adjuster Apprentice Contract (“contract”) with Adjusterman, LLC (“Adjusterman”) for employment. ECF No. [1-1] at ¶ 5. After they executed the contract, Plaintiff claims the parties agreed to orally amend the contract, requiring that “she would be paid 20% of all collections on all matters that she worked upon.” ECF No. [1-1] at ¶ 6. Plaintiff further alleges she worked in excess of forty hours per week and has not been compensated at all for her work. Id.

         Based on these allegations, the Amended Complaint alleges “Breach of Written Contract (as Amended)” against Adjusterman in Count I, unjust enrichment against Adjusterman in Count II, violation of the Florida Minimum Wage Act in Count III, and violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) in Count IV. See ECF No. [1-1]. In the Motion, Defendants seek dismissal of all claims in the Amended Complaint or alternatively a more definite statement. ECF No. [3]. Plaintiff's Response in opposition and Defendants' Reply timely followed. ECF Nos. [17] and [26]. The Motion is now ripe for review.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         a. Motion to Dismiss

         A pleading in a civil action 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). Although a complaint “does not need detailed factual allegations, ” it must provide “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (explaining that Rule 8(a)(2)'s pleading standard “demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation”). Nor can a complaint rest on “‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557 (alteration in original)).

         When reviewing a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), a court, as a general rule, must accept the plaintiff's allegations as true and evaluate all plausible inferences derived from those facts in favor of the plaintiff. See Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Fla. v. S. Everglades Restoration Alliance, 304 F.3d 1076, 1084 (11th Cir. 2002); AXA Equitable Life Ins. Co. v. Infinity Fin. Grp., LLC, 608 F.Supp.2d 1349, 1353 (S.D. Fla. 2009). However, this tenet does not apply to legal conclusions, and courts “are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; see Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Thaeter v. Palm Beach Cty. Sheriff's Office, 449 F.3d 1342, 1352 (11th Cir. 2006). Moreover, “courts may infer from the factual allegations in the complaint ‘obvious alternative explanations, ' which suggest lawful conduct rather than the unlawful conduct the plaintiff would ask the court to infer.” Am. Dental Ass'n v. Cigna Corp., 605 F.3d 1283, 1290 (11th Cir. 2010) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 682). A court considering a Rule 12(b) motion is generally limited to the facts contained in the complaint and attached exhibits, including documents referred to in the complaint that are central to the claim. See Wilchombe v. TeeVee Toons, Inc., 555 F.3d 949, 959 (11th Cir. 2009); Maxcess, Inc. v. Lucent Techs., Inc., 433 F.3d 1337, 1340 (11th Cir. 2005) (“[A] document outside the four corners of the complaint may still be considered if it is central to the plaintiff's claims and is undisputed in terms of authenticity.”) (citing Horsley v. Feldt, 304 F.3d 1125, 1135 (11th Cir. 2002)).

         b. Motion for a More Definite Statement

         Under Rule 12(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “a party may move for a more definite statement of a pleading to which a responsive pleading is allowed but which is so vague or ambiguous that the party cannot reasonably prepare a response.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e). Since courts have liberally construed the pleading standard under Rule 8(a), “a short and plain statement” will be enough, unless upon motion it is shown that the pleading “is so ambiguous that a party cannot reasonably” respond. Betancourt v. Marine Cargo Mgm't, Inc., 930 F.Supp. 606, 608 (S.D. Fla. 1996). “Most courts disfavor the use of Rule 12(e), ” and “motions for a more definite statement should not be used as a means of discovery.” Royal Shell Vacations, Inc. v. Scheyndel, 233 F.R.D 629, 630 (M.D. Fla. 2005).

         III. DISCUSSION

         a. Breach of Contract

         Seeking dismissal of Plaintiff's breach of contract claim, Defendants argue that Plaintiff's claim fails to properly plead that an oral modification to the written contract occurred.[1] ECF Nos. [3] and [26]. To state a breach of contract claim, a plaintiff must plead the existence of a contract, a material breach, and damages. Vega v. T-Mobile USA, Inc., 564 F.3d 1256, 1272 (11th Cir. 2009). In this case, Plaintiff indeed pled the existence of a written contract, but she also pled the existence of an oral modification to that same written contract. See ECF No. [1-1] at ¶ 6. It is the latter that she claims was breached. Id. at ...


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