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Quinn v. Dermatech Research, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division

August 9, 2019

PAUL QUINN and PDQ GROUP, INC., Plaintiffs,
v.
DERMATECH RESEARCH, LLC, LORI JACOBUS, and DENNIS YOUNG, Defendants.

          ORDER

          SUSAN C. BUCKLEW, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This cause comes before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to Amend. (Doc. No. 62). Defendant Lori Jacobus opposes the motion. (Doc. No. 65). As explained below, the motion is granted.

         I. Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2) provides that leave to amend should be freely given when justice so requires. Because of the liberal policy allowing amendments embodied in Rule 15(a), “a court should deny leave to amend a pleading only when: (1) the amendment would be prejudicial to the opposing party; (2) there has been bad faith or undue delay on the part of the moving party; or (3) the amendment would be futile.” Taylor v. Florida State Fair Authority, 875 F.Supp. 812, 814 (M.D. Fla. 1995)(citing Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)).

         Since this motion was filed the day after the deadline to move to amend, the motion would normally be analyzed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b)(4)'s good cause standard. However, the delay was caused by Plaintiffs' counsel's serious illness, so the Court will review the motion under Rule 15(a)'s standard.

         II. Background

         Plaintiffs filed this case on May 16, 2018. Plaintiff Paul Quinn is the sole owner of Plaintiff PDQ Group, Inc. (“PDQ”). Defendant Dermatech Research, LLC (“Dermatech”) is a beauty-focused technology company.

         In their complaint (Doc. No. 1), Plaintiffs allege that Quinn and/or his company, PDQ, was hired by Dermatech. Quinn began working at Dermatech in August of 2013, where he held the position of Vice President of Sales with a starting salary of $70, 000. Quinn reported to Dermatech executives, Defendants Lori Jacobus and Dennis Young. Quinn's salary was structured to increase to $100, 000 after three months, to $120, 000 after six months, and to $125, 000 after nine months of employment.

         Plaintiffs contend that Defendants stopped paying them wages/amounts due under their contract with Dermatech, and after Quinn complained, Dermatech fired him in August of 2016. As a result, Plaintiffs assert seven claims in their complaint: (1) violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”); (2) retaliation in violation of the FLSA; (3) violation of the Florida Minimum Wage Act (“FMWA”); (4) violation of the California Labor Code;[1] (5) breach of contract; (6) unjust enrichment; and (7) breach of fiduciary duties. This Court has federal question subject matter jurisdiction due to the FLSA claims; the Court does not have diversity subject matter jurisdiction over this case.[2] (Doc. No. 7).

         Plaintiffs served Defendants, and Dermatech and Young have not responded to the complaint. As a result, the Clerk entered default against them. (Doc. No. 34, 38). Default was initially entered against Jacobus, but she moved to vacate the default and has moved to dismiss the claims against her. (Doc. No. 18, 50, 52). In response to Jacobus' motion to dismiss, Plaintiffs filed the instant motion to amend.

         III. Motion to Amend

         Plaintiffs move to amend the complaint in order to assert additional allegations for existing claims, to add three new defendants for which Plaintiffs recently learned of facts to support Plaintiffs' claims against them, and to add two additional claims. Specifically, the proposed amended complaint contains the following nine claims against all six defendants (Dermatech, Young, Jacobus, Hall Simeroth, Kim Wellin, and Scott Davis): (1) violations of the FLSA's minimum wage and overtime provisions; (2) FLSA retaliation; (3) violation of the FMWA; (4) violation of the California Labor Code; (5) breach of contract; (6) unjust enrichment; (7) breach of fiduciary duties; (8) violation of Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act; and (9) violation of California's unfair competition law.

         Jacobus makes many arguments regarding why leave to amend should be denied, all of which this Court rejects. Only the following four arguments require elaboration from the Court.

         First, Jacobus argues that Quinn is an independent contractor, and therefore, his FLSA, FMWA, and California Labor Code claims fail. Whether Quinn was an employee or independent contractor is a disputed issue of fact, and therefore, ...


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