Smith v. Louie's Wine Dive Overland Park, LLC, et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER denying 15 Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint. Signed by District Judge John W. Lungstrum on 02/09/2017. (ses)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF KANSAS
Case No. 16-cv-2661-JWL
Louie’s Wine Dive Overland Park, LLC et al.,
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Plaintiff filed this lawsuit against defendants Louie’s Wine Dive Overland Park, LLC;
Louie’s Wine Dive Management Co., LLC; and Louie’s Wine Dive Parent, LLC alleging that
defendants terminated her employment and otherwise subjected her to disparate treatment on the
basis of her race and/or in retaliation for complaining about race discrimination in violation of
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and 42 U.S.C. § 1981.
This matter is presently before the court on defendants Louie’s Wine Dive Management Co.,
LLC and Louie’s Wine Dive Parent, LLC’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (doc. 15). As will be explained, the motion
The court will grant a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim when a plaintiff’s
factual allegations fail to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
The complaint need not contain detailed factual
allegations, but a plaintiff’s obligation to provide the grounds of entitlement to relief requires
more than labels and conclusions; a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will
not do. See id. at 555. The court must accept the facts alleged in the complaint as true, even if
doubtful in fact, see id., and view all reasonable inferences from those facts in favor of the
plaintiff, see Tal v. Hogan, 453 F.3d 1244, 1252 (10th Cir. 2006). Viewed as such, the
“[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
Louie’s Wine Dive Management Co., LLC and Louie’s Wine Dive Parent, LLC move to
dismiss the complaint on the grounds that plaintiff has failed to sufficiently allege that these two
defendants were ever plaintiff’s employer as required for liability under Title VII. Defendants
concede that plaintiff has alleged in her complaint that the three defendant-entities were “single
employers of Plaintiff with substantial interrelation of operations, common management, and
common control over personnel practices, centralized control of labor operations, and common
ownership and/or financial control.” See Knitter v. Corvias Military Living, LLC, 758 F.3d
1214, 1226–27 (10th Cir. 2014) (Under the single employer test, two entities can be found to
effectively constitute a single employer if they are an “integrated enterprise.” To make that
determination, courts “generally weigh four factors: (1) interrelations of operation; (2) common
management; (3) centralized control of labor relations; and (4) common ownership and financial
control.”). Nonetheless, defendants assert that this allegation is conclusory and that plaintiff, at
this juncture, is required to allege specific facts supporting her theory of liability against these
The motion is denied. In addition to her general allegations concerning the four-factor
test reiterated by the Circuit in Knitter, plaintiff alleges that the entities share a principal place of
business and registered office; that the entities together operated the place of business where
plaintiff worked; and that all three entities employed plaintiff at that location. Considering the
fact-intensive nature of the single-employer issue, see Bristol v. Board of County
Commissioners of the County of Clear Creek, 312 F.3d 1213, 1221 (10th Cir. 2002), the court
concludes that plaintiff should be able to explore in discovery the single-employer issue.
Discovery may reveal that the parties are insufficiently intertwined to hold these defendants
liable, but plaintiff has pleaded sufficient factual material to survive the motion to dismiss.
Anderson v. Finley Catering Co., 2016 WL 6440358, at *3-4 (E.D. Penn. Oct. 28, 2016)
(denying Rule 12(b)(6) motion on single-employer issue where plaintiff did not allege specific
facts but generally alleged four factors pertinent to single-employer test; precise contours of
employment relationship could only be established by “careful factual inquiry” requiring
discovery); Creech v. P.J. Wichita, LLC, 2016 WL 4702376, at * (D. Kan. Sept. 8, 2016)
(complaint that referenced four factors of single-employer test and further alleged combined
offices and shared policies was sufficient to withstand Rule 12(b)(6) motion).1
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED BY THE COURT THAT defendants’ motion to
dismiss plaintiff’s complaint (doc. 15) is denied.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
The only Rule 12(b)(6) case that defendants cite in support of their motion is Johnson v. Hix
Corp., 2015 WL 7017374 (D. Kan. Nov. 10, 2015). That case is distinguishable because the
plaintiff generally alleged a joint-employer relationship but failed to identify any relationship
whatsoever between the two non-related corporate entities and failed to allege that the moving
defendant even had the authority to terminate her employment. Here, clearly some relationship
exists among the three named defendants and plaintiff has alleged facts pertinent to the singleemployer test.
Dated this 9th day of February, 2017, at Kansas City, Kansas.
s/ John W. Lungstrum
John W. Lungstrum
United States District Judge
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