McFadden v. Lane, The Town of
ORDER: Defendant's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [ECF # 8 ] is GRANTED. Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Complaint [ECF # 15 ] is DENIED. Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed without prejudice. Signed by the Honorable R. Bryan Harwell on 4/28/2017. (hcic, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
THE TOWN OF LANE,
Civil Action No.: 4:17-CV-00455-RBH
Currently pending before the court is Defendant’s Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
[ECF #8] and Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend Complaint [ECF #15]. Both parties have had the
opportunity to extensively brief the issues raised in the motions, and this Court has thoroughly
considered all pleadings filed in this case.1
Factual Background and Procedural History
On January 11, 2017, Plaintiff Charles McFadden filed this civil action against Defendant
Town of Lane in the South Carolina Court of Common Pleas alleging breach of employment
contract for failure to pay overtime wages, and further seeking treble damages and a declaratory
judgment that Plaintiff is an hourly, non-exempt employee of Defendant. [ECF #1-1].
February 16, 2017, Defendant filed a Notice of Removal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and
1441(a) because it appeared on the face of the Complaint that the claimed violations, based on
the failure to pay overtime wages, arise under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et
Under Local Civil Rule 7.09 (D.S.C.), “hearings on motions may be ordered by the Court in its discretion. Unless
so ordered, motions may be determined without a hearing.” Upon review of the briefs, the Court finds that a hearing
is not necessary.
seq. (the “FLSA”), thereby providing original and removal jurisdiction. Thereafter, on February
28, 2017, Defendant filed a Motion pursuant to Rule 12(c) requesting judgment on the pleadings.
Defendant argues that the FLSA preempts Plaintiff’s action for breach of contract and the claims
under the South Carolina Wage Payment Act. [ECF #8-1, p. 2]. Defendant further argues that the
FLSA does not apply in this case because as an employee working for a public agency employing
less than five employees, Plaintiff is not covered by the FLSA pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 213(b)(20).
[ECF #8-1, p. 5]. Plaintiff filed his reply to the motion on March 29, 2017. [ECF #14]. Within
his reply, Plaintiff concedes that the FLSA is, in fact, the exclusive remedy for overtime pay
claims, and further that the FLSA exempts Plaintiff in his position as the Chief of Police for
Defendant. [ECF #14, p. 1]. Thus, he agrees that Defendant is entitled to the requested relief.
Instead, Plaintiff requests in his reply, and filed contemporaneously with his reply, that this Court
grant a Motion to Amend Complaint to seek relief under the South Carolina Payment of Wages
Act, § 41-10-10 et seq. [ECF #15].
Within Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend his Complaint, he
specifically notes that he does not seek remand to state court. [ECF #15, p. 1].
Standard of Review
Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that, “[a]fter the pleadings are
closed–but early enough not to delay trial–a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.” FED
R. CIV . P. 12(c). The standard for Rule 12(b)(6) motions applies to motions for judgment on the
pleadings, as well. Massey v. Ojaniit, 759 F.3d 343, 353 (4th Cir. 2014). A Rule 12(c) motion
tests the sufficiency of the complaint; it does not resolve the merits of the claim or questions of
fact. Id. (quoting Drager v. PLIVA USA, Inc., 741 F.3d 470, 474 (4th Cir. 2014)).
Rule 15 governs motions to amend a complaint. Under this Rule, at this stage in the
litigation, a party may only amend its pleadings with the opposing party’s written consent or the
court’s leave. FED R. CIV . P. 15(a)(2). The court should freely give leave when justice so requires.
FED R. CIV . P. 15(a)(2). However, a district court may deny a motion to amend a complaint when
the amendment would be: (1) prejudicial to the opposing party; (2) the moving party has acted
in bad faith; or (3) the amendment would be futile. Equal Rights Center v. Niles Bolton Assocs.,
602 F.3d 597, 603 (4th Cir. 2010). Defendant in this case does not consent to Plaintiff’s motion
to amend his Complaint.
Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
Here, Defendant requests this Court grant its Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. The
Plaintiff concedes that given the arguments made by Defendant, Defendant is entitled to the
requested relief. Plaintiff further seeks a dismissal without prejudice, should this Court decide to
grant the motion. This Court’s review of the pleadings, including Plaintiff’s asserted claims and
arguments made by counsel reveal that it would be appropriate to grant this Motion. See Anderson
v. Sara Lee Corp., 508 F.3d 181, 193 (4th Cir. 2007) (discussing the elaborate enforcement
scheme established by the FLSA and preemption of state laws); see generally Nimmons v. RBC
Ins. Holdings (U.S.A.) Inc., No. 6:07-CV-2637, 2007 WL 4571179 (D.S.C. Dec. 27, 2007); Rodall
v. City of Columbia, No. 3:13-207, 2015 WL 178112 (D.S.C. Jan. 14, 2015). This Court thus
grants Defendant’s Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, in light of the further reasoning
regarding Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend Complaint below.
Motion to Amend Complaint
Plaintiff has requested this Court allow him to amend his Complaint to seek relief pursuant
to the South Carolina Payment of Wages Act, § 41-10-10 et seq. While Plaintiff acknowledges
that his overtime wage claims are preempted by the FLSA, he argues that he can still seek
compensation for “additional pay for hours he worked, over and above his regular eight hour
shifts” pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. §§ 41-10-40, 41-10-50 and 41-10-80. [ECF #15, p. 1].
Defendant responds that despite the altered nomenclature, Plaintiff still seeks to recover for the
alleged failure to pay him overtime, and further, that other than requesting the relief under South
Carolina law, the remainder of his causes of action remain the same. [ECF #16, p. 1].
Additionally, Defendant argues that Plaintiff fails to make a valid claim for additional
compensation because he does not assert a violation of any legal authority. [ECF #16, pp. 1-2].
A review of the proposed amended complaint reveals that Plaintiff replaced the term
“overtime” with “extra hours worked” over the prescribed eight hours. [ECF #15-1, p. 1]. Also,
he does not appear to seek “overtime” as compared to page 5, paragraph 11 of his original
Complaint seeking pay at “one and one-half times” his regular pay rate, and as further alleged at
page 5, paragraph 15. [ECF #1-1].
In any event, this Court finds a more fundamental problem with Plaintiff’s Complaint given
his concession that a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings should be granted as to the asserted
claims in his original Complaint, which appear to be premised under the overtime pay requirement
provisions of the FLSA. Plaintiff now seeks to amend the Complaint to bring all claims under
the South Carolina Payment of Wages Act, which if permitted, would require this Court to
exercise supplemental jurisdiction purely over a state law claim with no federal claims. This case
was removed by Defendant on the basis that this Court has original jurisdiction over this case
pursuant to the fact “it appears upon the fact of the Complaint that this action arises under . . .
the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq.” By virtue of the fact that, with Plaintiff’s
concession in his reply to Defendant’s motion [ECF #14], this Court is granting the Motion for
Judgment on the Pleadings as to any claims brought by Plaintiff under the FLSA because it is
inapplicable under these facts, and in any event would preempt state law, this Court no longer has
original jurisdiction over this lawsuit based on a federal question presented to the Court and
declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction to the extent it could do so. Furthermore, both
Plaintiff and Defendant are South Carolina residents, and the pleadings do not otherwise allege
that the amount in controversy is satisfied. Thus, this Court does not have diversity jurisdiction
to hear these claims, either.
In other words, it would be futile for Plaintiff to amend his
While conceivably this Court could deny the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, and
allow Plaintiff to amend the Complaint to bring purely “state law” claims against this Defendant,
given the arguments of the parties, this Court feels it is proper to dismiss the action without
prejudice. To the extent this Court could conceivably exercise supplemental jurisdiction over these
claims because they were initially pled as claims under the FLSA, this court declines to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3). Plaintiff’s acknowledges that his
causes of action as presently pled are not cognizable under the FLSA, which was the basis for
removal, and at best, after amendment he may be able to plead and prove a “state law” claim.
Accordingly, this Court denies Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend Complaint to assert purely state law
claims against this Defendant based on these facts and procedural posture.
The Court has thoroughly reviewed the entire record, including the pleadings, Defendant’s
Motion to Dismiss, Plaintiff’s response to the motion, Defendant’s reply, and the applicable law.
For the reasons stated above, and based on Plaintiff’s concession in his reply to Defendant’s
Motion [ECF #14, p. 1], Defendant’s Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [ECF #8] is
Furthermore, this Court has thoroughly reviewed Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend
Complaint and Defendant’s response to said motion.
For the reasons state above, Plaintiff’s
Motion to Amend Complaint [ECF #15] is DENIED. Plaintiff’s Complaint is dismissed without
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Florence, South Carolina
April 28, 2017
s/ R. Bryan Harwell
R. Bryan Harwell
United States District Judge
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