Manning v. City of Scottsboro
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER that the defendant's Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part; it is ORDERED that all claims for exemplary damages are DISMISSED with prejudice and it is further ORDERED that all claims for unpaid wages and overtime allegedly earned prior to 12/7/2009, are DISMISSED as more fully set out in order. Signed by Judge C Lynwood Smith, Jr on 1/30/2013. (AHI )
2013 Jan-30 AM 09:10
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
EMMETT DALE MANNING,
CITY OF SCOTTSBORO,
Civil Action No. CV-12-S-4108-NE
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff, Emmett Dale Manning, filed this case on December 17, 2012,
asserting claims against his former employer, the City of Scottsboro, for failure to pay
overtime in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq.
(“FLSA”).1 The case currently is before the court on defendant’s motion to dismiss.2
Upon consideration of the motion, pleadings, and briefs, the court concludes the
motion is due to be granted in part and denied in part.
I. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b) permits a party to move to dismiss a
complaint for, among other reasons, “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). This rule must be read together with Rule 8(a),
See doc. no. 1 (Complaint).
Doc. no. 5.
which requires that a pleading contain only a “short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). While that
pleading standard does not require “detailed factual allegations,” Bell Atlantic Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 550 (2007), it does demand “more than an unadorned,
the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (citations omitted). As the Supreme Court stated in Iqbal:
A pleading that offers “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” [Twombly,
550 U.S., at 555]. Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders “naked
assertion[s]” devoid of “further factual enhancement.” Id., at 557.
To survive a motion to dismiss founded upon Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), [for failure to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted], a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to “state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.”
Id., at 570. A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference
that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Id., at 556. The
plausibility standard is not akin to a “probability requirement,” but it
asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully. Ibid. Where a complaint pleads facts that are “merely
consistent with” a defendant’s liability, it “stops short of the line
between possibility and plausibility of ‘entitlement to relief.’” Id., at
557 (brackets omitted).
Two working principles underlie our decision in Twombly. First,
the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained
in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals
of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice. Id., at 555 (Although for the purposes of a
motion to dismiss we must take all of the factual allegations in the complaint as true,
we “are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual
allegation” (internal quotation marks omitted)). Rule 8 marks a notable and generous
departure from the hyper-technical, code-pleading regime of a prior era, but it does
not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than
conclusions. Second, only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives
a motion to dismiss. Id., at 556. Determining whether a complaint states a plausible
claim for relief will, as the Court of Appeals observed, be a context-specific task that
requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.
490 F.3d, at 157-158. But where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to
infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged — but
it has not “show[n]” — “that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. Rule Civ. Proc.
In keeping with these principles a court considering a motion to
dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they
are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.
While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they
must be supported by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded
factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then
determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79 (emphasis added).
II. RELEVANT ALLEGATIONS OF PLAINTIFF’S COMPLAINT
Plaintiff, Emmitt Dale Manning, worked as a police officer for the City of
Scottsboro, Alabama, from sometime in June 2004 until approximately July 5, 2012.3
He served as a canine handler in the Police Department’s K-9 Unit from
approximately August of 2007 until his employment ended in July of 2012.4 Plaintiff
was required to house the canine in a kennel outside his home, and he was responsible
Complaint ¶ 6.
Id. ¶ 7.
for the canine at all times.5
Plaintiff’s regular working hours were from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. each day,6
but he also received an extra thirty minutes’ worth of compensation each day for time
spent caring for the canine when he was off duty.7 Plaintiff apparently received that
thirty minutes’ worth of compensation in the form of time off work, because he also
states in his complaint that he was allowed to leave work thirty minutes early each
day “to compensate him for time spent caring for the canine at home.”8 On days
plaintiff was not scheduled to work, he did not receive any compensation for caring
for the canine, despite the fact that the canine was housed in plaintiff’s yard.9
Plaintiff described the amount of time he typically spent caring for the canine
16. On days when he worked, Plaintiff spent approximately
seventy-five (75) minutes caring for the canine while off-duty. Plaintiff
spent approximately thirty (30) minutes exercising the canine,
approximately fifteen (15) minutes feeding the canine and cleaning his
food and water bowls, and approximately thirty (30) minutes spraying
down and cleaning the canine’s kennel.
17. On days Plaintiff was off-duty he spent approximately two
(2) hours of unpaid time caring for the canine. Plaintiff spent
Id. ¶ 15.
Id. ¶ 11.
Id. ¶ 12.
Complaint ¶ 13.
Id. ¶ 14.
approximately seventy-five (75) minutes on training, obedience and
exercise, approximately fifteen (15) minutes feeding the canine and
cleaning his food and water bowls, and approximately thirty (30)
minutes spraying down and cleaning the canine’s kennel.
18. Once a week Plaintiff spent approximately sixty (60) to
ninety (90) minutes of unpaid time cleaning the canine’s outside kennel
with bleach and water. During this time Plaintiff also changed out the
cedar shavings that lined the canine’s kennel.
19. Once a week Plaintiff spent approximately sixty (60) to
ninety (90) minutes of unpaid time cleaning the canine’s car kennel with
bleach and water. Plaintiff also vacuumed the canine’s hair out of the
patrol car during this time.
20. Once every two weeks Plaintiff spent approximately two
(2) hours of unpaid time bathing and brushing the canine.
21. Once a month Plaintiff spent approximately fifteen (15)
minutes of unpaid time administering the canine’s medication.10
Defendant knew that plaintiff was caring for the canine while off-duty, but it
nevertheless “willfully refused to pay Plaintiff for this compensable time.”11 Plaintiff
also frequently complained to his commanding officers — including Sergeant David
Hancock, Captain Barry Capps, Sergeant Gary Shavers, and Lieutenant Daniel Pierce
— that thirty minutes of compensation each day was not enough for the amount of
off-duty time he spent caring for the canine.12 Despite plaintiff’s complaints,
Id. ¶¶ 16-21.
Id. ¶ 26.
Id. ¶ 27.
“[d]efendant willfully refused to pay Plaintiff for the time he worked in excess of
forty (40) hours a week.”13 Defendant also “willfully violated the FLSA by failing
to pay Plaintiff an overtime premium rate of pay for work he performed in excess of
forty (40) hours a week.”14
Based on those factual allegations, plaintiff asserts that defendant
willfully violated the FLSA by failing to keep accurate records showing
all the time it permitted or required Plaintiff to work, which resulted in
the denial of compensation, either at a regular rate or an overtime
premium rate for all time worked in excess of forty (40) hours in a
workweek, as required by the FLSA.15
Plaintiff also asserts that defendant “willfully violated the FLSA by permitting or
requiring Plaintiff to perform work in excess of forty (40) hours a week without
paying him any overtime compensation for this time.”16
As relief for defendant’s alleged violations, plaintiff requests: a declaratory
judgment that defendant has violated his rights under the FLSA; damages, including
compensation for unrecorded overtime work plus interest, post-judgment interest,
liquidated damages, and exemplary damages; and litigation costs, including attorney’s
fees and expert fees.17
Complaint ¶ 28.
Id. ¶ 29.
Id. ¶ 31.
Id. ¶ 32.
Id. at 6-7 (Prayer for Relief).
Defendant first asserts that plaintiff’s claim for exemplary damages should be
dismissed because such damages are not recoverable under the FLSA. See, e.g.,
Bolick v. Brevard County Sheriff’s Dept., 937 F. Supp. 1560, 1566 (M.D. Fla. 1996)
(“Punitive and emotional damages are not available under the FLSA.”) (citations
omitted). Plaintiff concedes this point in his response brief.18 Accordingly, all claims
for exemplary damages will be dismissed.
Statute of Limitations and Willfulness
The statute of limitations on FLSA claims generally is two years, but it
increases to three years for claims involving willful violations. 29 U.S.C. § 255(a).
Defendant asserts that plaintiff has not adequately alleged claims for willful
violations of the FLSA, and that the statute of limitations therefore cannot be
extended to three years. Thus, according to defendant, all claims for compensation
earned prior to December 17, 2010 — or two years before the December 17, 2012
filing date — are time-barred.19
Doc. no. 8 (plaintiff’s brief), at 1-2 (“Plaintiff agrees to voluntarily dismiss his claim
for exemplary damages, as he is in agreement that they are not recoverable in this case.”).
Defendant’s brief actually states that the relevant date is December 21, 2010, not
December 17, 2010. The court assumes that is a typographical error, as plaintiff’s complaint
undeniably was filed on December 17, 2012. Plaintiff also does not appear to dispute that the
statute of limitations is three years at most, and he consequently is not seeking damages for any
Defendant asserts that plaintiff’s allegations of willful violations of the FLSA
are too conclusory to survive a motion to dismiss. Plaintiff uses the word “willfully”
several times in his complaint. He states that defendant “willfully refused to pay
Plaintiff for . . . compensable time,”20 “willfully refused to pay Plaintiff for the time
he worked in excess of forty (40) hours a week,”21 “willfully violated the FLSA by
failing to pay Plaintiff an overtime premium rate of pay for work he performed in
excess of forty (40) hours a week,”22 “willfully violated the FLSA by failing to keep
accurate records showing all the time it permitted or required Plaintiff to work,”23 and
“willfully violated the FLSA by permitting or requiring Plaintiff to perform work in
excess of forty (40) hours a week without paying him any overtime compensation for
this time.”24 Defendant asserts that these allegations do not “satisfy the requirement
of showing that the employer knew or showed reckless disregard for whether its
conduct was prohibited by the statute.”25 Defendant also asserts that plaintiff’s
violations occurring prior to December 17, 2009. See doc. no. 8, at 2 (“Plaintiff is entitled to a
three year statute of limitations due to Defendant’s willful violation of the FLSA. Plaintiff filed
his complaint on December 17, 2012, establishing the start of the relevant liability period as
December 17, 2009.”).
Complaint ¶ 26 (emphasis supplied).
Id. ¶ 28 (emphasis supplied).
Id. ¶ 29 (emphasis supplied).
Id. ¶ 31 (emphasis supplied).
Id. ¶ 32 (emphasis supplied).
Doc. no. 6 (defendant’s brief), at 6.
acknowledgment that he was allowed to take off thirty minutes each day to
compensate him for time spent caring for the canine demonstrates “an intent on the
part of the defendant to comply with a requirement that canine handlers be
compensated for time caring for the animal.”26
Finally, defendant points out
plaintiff’s failure to allege that he ever formally requested any compensation for
hours on a time sheet for which he was not paid.
The court does not agree with defendant that these deficiencies are fatal to
plaintiff’s claim of a willful violation. Defendant is correct that, “[t]o show a willful
violation of the FLSA[,] Plaintiff must show ‘that the employer either knew or
showed reckless disregard for the matter of whether its conduct was prohibited by the
statute.’” Cohen v. Allied Storage Buildings, Inc., 554 F. Supp. 2d 1331, 1335 (S.D.
Fla. 2008) (quoting McLaughlin v. Richland Shoe Co., 486 U.S. 128, 130 (1988))
(alterations supplied). Even so, plaintiff has alleged sufficient facts to satisfy that
burden at the pleading stage. Specifically, he alleges that defendant knew he was
performing work while off-duty, but failed to compensate him for that work.27 He
also alleges that he frequently complained to his commanding officers that he was not
being adequately compensated for his canine care duties.28 Finally, he alleges that
Complaint ¶ 26.
Id. ¶ 27.
defendant failed to keep accurate records of the time he worked, which suggests that
defendant may have been willfully blind to whether he was owed overtime pay.29
These allegations are sufficient to state a claim that defendant knew or showed
reckless disregard for whether its conduct was in violation of the FLSA.
Because plaintiff has adequately pled a claim for willful violations of the
FLSA, the three-year statute of limitations governing willfulness claims will apply,
and plaintiff will be permitted to pursue claims for compensation allegedly earned
from December 17, 2009 forward.30
IV. CONCLUSION AND ORDERS
In accordance with the foregoing, defendant’s motion to dismiss is GRANTED
in part and DENIED in part. It is ORDERED that all claims for exemplary damages
are DISMISSED with prejudice. It is further ORDERED that all claims for unpaid
wages and overtime allegedly earned prior to December 17, 2009 are DISMISSED.
DONE this 30th day of January, 2013.
United States District Judge
Id. ¶ 31.
If, of course, the evidence later demonstrates that plaintiff cannot sustain his claim for
willful violations of the FLSA, the two-year statute of limitations will apply, and plaintiff will
only be permitted to recover for injuries sustained after December 17, 2010.
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