Bautista v. El Coyote Mex Restaurant, Inc et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION and ORDER; the Defendants motion to dismiss is denied without prejudice; Plaintiff is ordered to file an amended complaint on or before June 10, 2014; Defendants may renew their motion to dismiss in response to the amended complaint; Defendants motion to stay discovery is denied as moot. Signed by Judge C Lynwood Smith, Jr on 05/30/14. (SPT )
2014 May-30 AM 10:12
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
EL COYOTE MEX
RESTAURANT, INC. and
Civil Action No. CV-14-S-458-NE
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff, Ricardo Bautista, filed this case on March 14, 2014, asserting claims
against his employer, El Coyote Mex Restaurant, Inc. (“El Coyote”), and an
individual named Armando Ortega, who apparently is the owner of El Coyote, for
violations 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 defendants’ motion to dismiss,2
and motion to stay discovery pending resolution of the motion to dismiss.3 Upon
consideration of the motion, pleadings, and briefs, the court concludes that the motion
to dismiss should be denied without prejudice to defendants’ right to re-file a similar
motion, but only after plaintiff files an amended complaint, and assuming the
See doc. no. 1 (Complaint).
Doc. no. 8.
Doc. no. 10.
allegations of that amended complaint merit another motion to dismiss. Defendants’
motion to stay will be denied as moot.
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),
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. 8(a)(2).
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, Ricardo Bautista, has been employed by defendants since June of
2011, and he continued to be employed by defendants when he filed his complaint on
March 14, 2014.4 Plaintiff asserts that defendants have committed two violations of
the FLSA: i.e., for failure to pay him for all hours worked, in violation of 29 U.S.C.
§ 206, and failure to pay overtime, in violation of 29 U.S.C. § 207.
To support his first claim, plaintiff offers the following allegations:
13. The plaintiff Ricardo Bautista, has not been paid for all of the
hours he has worked; specifically the plaintiff has not been compensated
for his labor, either at the minimum rate or the premium overtime rate
under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
14. The defendants El Coyote Mex Restaurant, Inc. and Armando
Ortega, have willfully failed to comply with the minimum wage
provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206, specifically
by failing to pay the plaintiff, Ricardo Bautista, for the hours he labored
for the defendants’ benefit.5
He also alleges:
17. The defendants, El Coyote Mex Restaurant, Inc. and
Armando Ortega, have willfully failed to compensate the plaintiff for
hours worked during the period of their [sic] employment.
18. The plaintiff was not exempt from the protections of the Fair
Labor Standards Act.
Complaint ¶ 11.
Id. ¶¶ 13-14.
19. The defendants, El Coyote Mex Restaurant, Inc. and
Armando Ortega, by such failure, have willfully violated the minimum
wage provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206.6
To support his second claim, plaintiff alleges that defendants “have willfully
failed to comply with the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29
U.S.C. § 207, specifically by failing to pay the plaintiff, Ricardo Bautista, at the
premium overtime rate for each hour over forty each week he worked.”7 He also
21. The defendants, El Coyote Mex Restaurant, Inc. and
Armando Ortega, willfully failed to compensate the plaintiff at the
premium overtime rate for all hours worked above forty in each work
22. The plaintiff was not exempt from the protections of the Fair
Labor Standards Act.
23. The defendants, El Coyote Mex Restaurant, Inc. and
Armando Ortega, by such failure, have willfully violated the overtime
provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 207.8
As damages, plaintiff requests
[a]ll amounts of wages that the plaintiff should have received
under the Fair Labor Standards Act but for the defendants, El Coyote
Mex Restaurant, Inc. and Armando Ortega, [sic] willful violation of
their rights, plus an equal amount in liquidated damages pursuant to the
Id. ¶¶ 17-19 (alteration supplied).
Id. ¶ 15.
Id. ¶¶ 21-23.
Fair Labor Standards Acts [sic], 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) . . . .9
Defendants argue that, because plaintiff has failed to adequately allege a willful
violation of the FLSA, his claims are limited by the ordinary two-year statute of
limitations governing FLSA claims, not the three-year statute governing willful
violations of the FLSA. See 29 U.S.C. § 255(a) (setting forth the two-year statute of
limitations for ordinary FLSA claims and the extended three-year statute for willful
To establish willfulness, plaintiff must show that defendants “‘either knew or
showed reckless disregard for the matter of whether [their] conduct was prohibited
by the statute.’” Ojeda-Sanchez v. Bland Farms, LLC, 499 F. App’x 897, 902 (11th
Cir. 2012). (quoting McLaughlin v. Richland Shoe Co., 486 U.S. 128, 133 (1988))
(alteration supplied). “Neither negligence, nor even unreasonable conduct, is
sufficient to prove willfulness.” Ojeda-Sanchez, 499 F. App’x at 902-03 (citing Allen
v. Board of Public Education for Bibb County, 495 F.3d 1306, 1324 (11th Cir.
2007)). Plaintiff has pled no facts tending to prove defendants’ knowledge or
reckless disregard for the illegality of their conduct. In fact, plaintiff has done
nothing more than include various forms of the word “willful” in its allegations.
Id. at 5 (damages clause) (alterations supplied).
Such conclusory allegations are insufficient to satisfy plaintiff’s burden to plead
Rather than dismissing plaintiff’s willfulness claims and limiting his FLSA
claims to violations that fall within the ordinary two-year statute of limitations,
however, the court will give plaintiff one opportunity to cure his pleading deficiencies
through the filing of an amended complaint.
IV. CONCLUSION AND ORDERS
In accordance with the foregoing, defendants’ motion to dismiss is DENIED
without prejudice. Plaintiff is ORDERED to file an amended complaint on or before
June 10, 2014. Defendants may renew their motion to dismiss in response to the
amended complaint, if necessary. Defendants’ motion to stay discovery is DENIED
DONE this 30th day of May, 2014.
United States District Judge
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