Boyle v. City of Pell City
MEMORANDUM OPINION Signed by Chief Judge Karon O Bowdre on 4/24/15. (SAC )
2015 Apr-24 AM 11:11
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
CITY OF PELL CITY,
Case No.: 4:14-cv-1603-KOB
On August 18, 2014, Plaintiff Paul Boyle filed suit against Defendant Pell City, asserting
the following claims: failure to accommodate (Count I); quantum meruit (Count II); unjust
enrichment (Count III); Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) violation (Count IV); disability
discrimination (Count V)1; and breach of contract (Count VI). This matter is now before the
court on Pell City’s “Partial Motion to Dismiss.” (Doc. 15). In that motion, Pell City asserts that
Mr. Boyle’s quantum meruit, unjust enrichment, FLSA, and breach of contract claims should be
As discussed in more detail below, this court will GRANT Pell City’s partial motion to
dismiss and will DISMISS Mr. Boyle’s unjust enrichment, quantum meruit, and breach of
contract claims for failure to comply with the notice requirements of Alabama Code Section 1147-23 and WILL DISMISS Mr. Boyle’s FLSA claims as barred by the applicable statute of
In his Second Amended Complaint, Mr. Boyle incorrectly identifies his disability
discrimination claims as Count IV. See Doc. 13, at 9.
I. Legal Standard
A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss attacks the legal sufficiency of the complaint.
Generally, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require only that the complaint provide “‘a short
and plain statement of the claim’ that will give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff’s
claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)
(quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)). A plaintiff must provide the grounds of his entitlement, but Rule
8 generally does not require “detailed factual allegations.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley, 355 U.S. at 47).
The Supreme Court explained that “[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must
contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting and explaining its decision in
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). When considering whether a claim is plausible, courts are limited to
considering only the pleadings and any exhibits attached to the pleadings. See Tello v. Dean
Witter Reynolds, Inc., 410 F.3d 1275, 1288 (11th Cir. 2005) (abrogated on other grounds);
Universal Express, Inc. v. U.S. S.E.C., 177 Fed. Appx. 52, 53 (11th Cir. 2006). If the court
determines that well-pleaded facts in the complaint, accepted as true, do not state a claim that is
plausible, the claim must be dismissed. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
II. Statement of Facts
In March of 2001, Mr. Boyle was injured will working as a heavy equipment operator for
Pell City. Because Mr. Boyle’s injuries prevented him from continuing to work as a heavy
equipment operator, Pell City transferred Mr. Boyle to a foreman position, which was more
sedentary in nature. Following his transfer to the foreman position, Mr. Boyle continued to be
paid at the heavy equipment operator rate of $15 per hour instead of receiving the typical
foreman position pay of $23 per hour. Although Mr. Boyle did not receive the compensation at
the rate of a foreman, Mr. Boyle continued to work as a foreman until Pell City transferred him
back to the heavy equipment operator position in June of 2012. On August 18, 2014, Mr. Boyle
brought suit against Pell City for failing to pay him $23 per hour for the time he worked as a
foreman beginning in 2005 and continuing until June of 2012.
Mr. Boyle’s state law claims
Mr. Boyle asserts state-law claims against Pell City for breach of contract, quantum
meruit, and unjust enrichment. Under Alabama law, claims against a municipality must be
“presented to the clerk for payment within two years from the accrual of said claim or shall be
barred.” Ala. Code § 11-47-23. Each of Mr. Boyle’s state-law claims stem from the pay Mr.
Boyle received while working as a foreman. As the last date that Mr. Boyle alleges he worked as
a foreman but did not receive foreman pay was in June of 2012, the latest date that Mr. Boyle’s
claims could have accrued was in June of 2012. Under Section 11-47-23, Mr. Boyle was
required to provide notice of his claims to Pell City within two years of that date by June of 2014.
Mr. Boyle, however, did not provide notice to Pell City until he brought suit on August 18, 2014.
Thus, Mr. Boyle failed to provide notice to Pell City within two years as required by Section 1147-23.
Mr. Boyle argues that although his claims would be barred under Section 11-47-23, his
claims are not subject to Section 11-47-23 because his claims are for a preexisting contractual
debt. See Hood v. City of Birmingham, 562 So. 2d 164, 165 (Ala. 1990). In support of this
position, Mr. Boyle cites the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision in Hood, in which the Court
held that Section 11-47-23 does not apply to “contractual obligation[s] known to and
acknowledged by the city.” Id. Mr. Boyle’s reliance on Hood, however, is misplaced.
To demonstrate that his claim falls outside Section 11-47-23, Mr. Boyle’s claims must be
based upon a preexisting contractual obligation that Pell City acknowledged owing Mr. Boyle.
Mr. Boyle, however, failed to allege in his complaint either the existence of a contract giving
rising to a preexisting debt or that Pell City acknowledged owing Mr. Boyle the contractual debt.
Instead of amending his complaint to remedy these deficiencies, Mr. Boyle alleges for the first
time in his response to Pell City’s partial motion to dismiss both the existence of a contract
between himself and Pell City, and that Pell City acknowledge owing him a debt. Mr. Boyle also
attached two exhibits to his response in support of these new allegations.
This court, however, may not consider the new allegations contained in Mr. Boyle’s
response nor the attached exhibits because, absent certain exceptions that are inapplicable here, a
court is limited in ruling on a motion to dismiss to considering only “the allegations within the
four-corners of the complaint, and any documents attached thereto.” Lawrence v. Goldberg, No.
06-21952-Civ, 2008 WL 10665425, at 1* (S.D. Fla. 2008) (citing Bickley v. Caremark Rx, Inc.,
461 F.3d 1325, 1329 (11th Cir. 2006)).
Mr. Boyle’s failure to allege in his complaint either the existence of a contract or that Pell
City acknowledged owing him a debt prevents this court from considering those allegations.
Because Mr. Boyle fails to allege facts under which his state-law claims would not be subject to
the notice provision of Section 11-47-23, his state-law claims are barred and are due to be
Mr. Boyle’s FLSA Claim
Mr. Boyle’s FLSA claim is based on Pell City’s alleged failure to pay Mr. Boyle for
overtime he worked between 2005 and June of 2012. Under the FLSA, actions to recover unpaid
overtime compensation must be brought within two years after the cause of action accrued unless
the claims are “willful.” See 29 U.S.C. § 255(a). “Willful” violations of the FLSA are subject to
a three-year statute of limitations. See 29 U.S.C. § 255(a). A violation of the FLSA is “willful”
where the employer knew its conduct violated the statute or acted with reckless disregard as to
whether its conduct was prohibited under the statute. See Reich v. Dept. of Conservation &
Natural Res., State of Ala., 28 F.3d 1076, 1084 (11th Cir. 1994).
In the present case, Mr. Boyle fails to allege facts in his complaint that would give rise to
the inference that Pell City knew it was violating the FLSA or acted with reckless disregard. Mr.
Boyle attempts to overcome this deficiency by alleging in his response that Pell City acted
“willfully” in violating the FLSA. However, as discussed above, this court may only consider the
allegations on the “face of the complaint” when deciding whether dismissal is appropriate under
Rule 12(b)(6). See Tello, 410 F.3d at 1288. Because Mr. Boyle fails to allege in his complaint
that Pell City willfully violated the FLSA, Mr. Boyle’s FLSA claim is subject to the two-year
statute of limitations. As Mr. Boyle failed to bring suit within two years of the date his FLSA
claim accrued, his FLSA claim is due to be dismissed
For the reasons discussed above, this court will GRANT Pell City’s partial motion to
dismiss and will DISMISS WITHOUT PREJUDICE Mr. Boyle’s FLSA claim, breach of contract
claim, quantum meruit claim, and unjust enrichment claim.
Done and ordered this 24th day of April, 2015.
KARON OWEN BOWDRE
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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