Benefield et al v. Convacare Management Inc et al
ORDER denying 24 Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim without prejudice. Signed by Judge Kristine G. Baker on 5/1/13. (kpr)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
KIMBERLY BENEFIELD, VEATRICE
CHILDRESS, JANIS FRANKS, PENNY HILL.
VICKI KELLER, JENNIFER KIRKER,
CHRISTOPHER MATHIS, KRYSTAL
REEVES, LISA STRAIN, ROSA TAYLOR,
SUSIE TOSH, and AMANDA WHITE, EACH
INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF
OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED
Case No. 4:12-cv-00589 KGB
CONVACARE MANAGEMENT, INC.,
ROLLING HILLS H.C., INC.,
JOEY WIGGINS and JOHN DOES 1-30
Before the Court is a motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ collective action complaint filed by
separate defendant ConvaCare Management, Inc. (“ConvaCare”) (Dkt. No. 24). Plaintiffs filed
their response (Dkt. No. 29). ConvaCare filed its reply (Dkt. No. 34). Plaintiffs bring this action
against ConvaCare for its alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29
U.S.C. § 201, et seq., and the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act, Ark. Code Ann. § 11-4-201, et seq.
ConvaCare moves to dismiss plaintiffs’ claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
For the following reasons, the Court denies ConvaCare’s motion to dismiss without prejudice
(Dkt. No. 24).
In ruling on a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the court
“accept[s] as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint, and review[s] the
complaint to determine whether its allegations show that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Schaaf
v. Residential Funding Corp., 517 F.3d 544, 549 (8th Cir. 2008). All reasonable inferences from
the complaint must be drawn in favor of the nonmoving party. Crumpley–Patterson v. Trinity
Lutheran Hosp., 388 F.3d 588, 590 (8th Cir. 2004). A motion to dismiss should not be granted
merely because the complaint “does not state with precision all elements that give rise to a legal
basis for recovery.” Schmedding v. Tnemec Co., 187 F.3d 862, 864 (8th Cir. 1999). A complaint
need only contain “‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief.’” Id. (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)). “While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff’s obligation to provide
the ‘grounds’ of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief’ requires more than labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Stated differently, the plaintiff must “raise a right to relief
above a speculative level.” Schaaf, 517 F.3d at 549.
When all reasonable inferences from the complaint are drawn in favor of plaintiffs, the
Court finds that plaintiffs have sufficiently stated their claim to survive ConvaCare’s motion to
dismiss. For example, plaintiffs allege that ConvaCare was, together with the other defendants,
plaintiffs’ employer within the meaning of the FLSA, citing 29 U.S.C. § 203(d) (Dkt. No. 1, ¶
26). Plaintiffs allege that ConvaCare, together with the other defendants, created and enforced
company policies and made decisions affecting the wages and hours of its employees (Dkt. No.
1, ¶ 27). Plaintiffs allege that ConvaCare and the other defendants have “the same officers and
owners” and that they had “control over Plaintiffs’ conditions of employment” (Dkt. No. 1, ¶
31). Plaintiffs allege that the personnel and administrative services provided by ConvaCare and
the other defendants include “selecting and hiring administrators, setting wage rates, drafting
operational policies and procedures, drafting resident care policies and procedures, training and
orienting administrative staff, training and orienting nursing staff, in-servicing staff, providing
treasury management services, providing resident care consultation, drafting plans of correction,
processing payroll, monitoring income and expenses, preparing cost reports, and preparing tax
returns” (Dkt. No. 1, ¶ 49). Plaintiffs further allege that the defendants share employees, that
defendants’ skilled nursing facilities do not have separate websites but instead have separate web
pages within ConvaCare’s website, and that defendants operate in other ways so as to “present
themselves publicly as a unified statewide operation through ConvaCare’s website” and that
these employees “move between separate entities as if within division for the same employer”
(Dkt. No. 1, ¶¶ 50-58).
Because the Court must accept as true all factual allegations contained in the complaint at
this stage of the proceeding, the Court denies ConvaCare’s motion to dismiss. Even when the
Court considers the Facility Services Agreement ConvaCare attaches to its motion (Dkt. No. 241) and requests this Court review based on Moses.com Securities, Inc. v. Comprehensive
Software Systems, Inc., 406 F.3d 1052, 1063 n.3 (8th Cir. 2005), the Court concludes the
aforementioned allegations in the complaint raise a right to relief above a speculative level.
Therefore, the Court denies the motion to dismiss.
ConvaCare also requests in its motion that, if the Court denies the motion to dismiss, the
Court direct the parties to conduct discovery on management and relationship issues to determine
the employer-employee status of ConvaCare and plaintiffs prior to the collective action
certification stage to avoid unnecessary cost and delay, if appropriate.
This Court denies
ConvaCare’s request without prejudice. If the parties are unable to reach agreement as to the
scope and sequence of discovery, ConvaCare may submit by motion for this Court’s
consideration a proposed discovery plan addressing these issues.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that ConvaCare’s motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ collective
action complaint is denied (Dkt. No. 24).
SO ORDERED this 30th day of April, 2013.
KRISTINE G. BAKER
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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