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Rodriguez v. Carrot Express Midtown, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

December 30, 2019




         THIS CAUSE is before the Court upon Defendants Carrot Express Midtown, LLC (“Carrot Express Midtown”) and Milop, LLC's (“Milop”) (collectively, “Defendants”)[1] Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. [8] (“Motion”). Plaintiff Paula Rodriguez (“Plaintiff”) filed a Response in Opposition to the Motion, ECF No. [13] (“Response”), to which Defendants replied, ECF No. [15] (“Reply”). The Court has reviewed the Motion, all opposing and supporting submissions, the record in this case, and the applicable law, and is otherwise fully advised. For the reasons explained below, Defendants' Motion is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff initiated this action on June 27, 2019, in the Circuit Court of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit in and for Miami-Dade County, Florida, asserting claims against Carrot Express Midtown, Milop, and Carrot Express collectively for violations of the overtime and retaliation provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201, et seq. (“FLSA”). ECF No. [1-2] at 8-13 (“Complaint”). On November 27, 2019, Defendants removed the action to federal court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). See generally ECF No. [1].

         The Complaint's sole allegation with regard to any of the named Defendants in this action, set forth in the “Juruisdiction and Venue” section, is that “Defendant, CARROT EXPRESS MIDTOWN, LLC, a Florida Limited Liability Company, having a place of business in Miami-Dade County, Florida, where Plaintiff worked for Defendant, and at all times material hereto was and is engaged in interstate commerce.” ECF No. [1-2] ¶ 4. No. specific allegations as to Milop or Carrot Express are presented anywhere in the Complaint. See generally Id. Rather, the remainder of the allegations in the Complaint reference “Defendants” collectively, without any further distinction. See generally id.

         The Complaint alleges that Plaintiff “performed work for Defendants . . . from on or about September 2018 to on or about February 18, 2019.” Id. ¶ 7. Plaintiff worked in excess of forty hours per week and “performed an average of [five] hours or more of overtime each week for Defendants.” Id. ¶¶ 8, 10. Defendants failed to compensate Plaintiff at the required minimum wage and/or overtime rate for all hours worked in excess of forty hours in a single week, which Plaintiff continuously complained about. Id. ¶¶ 9, 11. “General Manager, Sebastian (LNU) stated ‘We know it's illegal but that's just how we do it here. If you don't like it, we can just cut your hours to forty.” Id. ¶ 12. Plaintiff was ultimately terminated on or about February 18, 2019, in retaliation for her complaints about Defendants' lack of correct overtime payment. Id. ¶ 13.

         Plaintiff's Complaint asserts two counts, each of which are asserted against Carrot Express Midtown, Milop, and Carrot Express: Count I (FLSA Wage & Hour Violation) and Count II (FLSA Retaliation Violation). See generally Id. Further, despite incorporating the general factual allegations into each Count asserted, the Complaint does not set forth any factual allegations with regard to Milop or Carrot Express. See generally id.

         In the instant Motion, Defendants seek dismissal of Plaintiff's Complaint, arguing that it fails to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Alternatively, Defendants move for a more definite statement pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e).


         A. Motion to Dismiss Under Rule 12(b)(6)

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 requires that a pleading 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”). In the same vein, a complaint may not rest on “‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (alteration in original) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). “Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. These elements are required to survive a motion brought under Rule 12(b)(6) that requests dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         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. Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Fla. v. S. Everglades Restoration All., 304 F.3d 1076, 1084 (11th Cir. 2002). 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, in considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, “may consider only the complaint itself and any documents referred to in the complaint which are central to the claims.” Wilchombe v. TeeVee Toons, Inc., 555 F.3d 949, 959 (11th Cir. 2009) (citing Brooks v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Fla., Inc., 116 F.3d 1364, 1369 (11th Cir. 1997)); see also Maxcess, Inc. v. Lucent Techs., Inc., 433 F.3d 1337, 1340 n.3 (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 ...

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