Hall v. American Mechanical Services of Maryland, L.L.C. et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION Signed by District Judge James C. Cacheris on 1/26/17. Order To Follow (gwalk, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA
KYLE LEIGH MCBARRON HALL,
AMERICAN MECHANICAL SERVICES
OF MARYLAND, LCC, et. al.,
M E M O R A N D U M
O P I N I O N
This matter is before the Court on Defendant American
Mechanical Services of Maryland, LLC (“AMS”) and Defendant Dave
Schellhardt (“Schellhardt”) (collectively, the “Defendants”)
omnibus motion to dismiss, for summary judgment, or, in the
alternative, for a more definite statement.
reasons that follow, the Court will deny all three motions.
Kyle Leigh McBarron Hall (“Plaintiff” or “Hall”)
brings this lawsuit against her former employer, AMS, and its
representative, Mr. Schellhardt, for claims arising under the
Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219a.
following facts are taken from Plaintiff’s Complaint and, for
the purposes of this motion, are presumed true.
From approximately August 2012 until September 2016,
Hall was employed as a dispatcher and clerical worker in an
office operated by AMS in Chantilly, Virginia.
Compl. ¶ 4.
Hall alleges that she was required to work overtime hours for
which she was not compensated.
Id. ¶ 12.
In addition, Hall
claims that Defendants incorrectly recorded her hours of work,
failed to pay her for all of the hours that she worked, and did
not maintain regular pay periods in order to compensate her in a
Id. ¶¶ 15-16.
She also alleges that Defendants
failed to inform her of her FLSA rights.
Id. ¶ 17.
Plaintiff filed the instant Complaint on November 7,
On November 30, 2016, Defendants filed its
Plaintiff filed her opposition on
December 12, 2016 [Dkt. 6], to which Defendants replied on
December 20, 2016 [Dkt. 7].
Oral argument was held on January
This motion is now ripe for disposition.
“A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the
sufficiency of a complaint; importantly, it does not resolve
contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the
applicability of defenses.”
Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin,
980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992) (citation omitted).
Supreme Court has stated that in order “[t]o survive a motion to
dismiss, a [c]omplaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible
on its face.’”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
(quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).
“A claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded factual
content allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
“Determining whether a complaint states a plausible
claim for relief [is] . . . a context-specific task that
requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience
and common sense.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (citations omitted).
While legal conclusions can provide the framework for a
complaint, all claims must be supported by factual allegations.
Based upon these allegations, the court must determine
whether the plaintiff’s pleadings plausibly give rise to an
entitlement to relief.
Legal conclusions couched as
factual allegations are not sufficient, Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555, nor are “unwarranted inferences, unreasonable conclusions,
or arguments,” E. Shore Mkts., Inc. v. J.D. Assocs. Ltd. P’ship,
213 F.3d 175, 180 (4th Cir. 2000).
The plaintiff does not have
to show a likelihood of success; rather, the complaint must
merely allege-directly or indirectly-each element of a “viable
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 562-63.
In assessing the
plaintiff’s complaint, the court must construe it in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff, read the complaint as a whole,
and take the facts asserted therein as true.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
Summary judgment is appropriate only if the record
shows that “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact
and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); see also Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247–48 (1986); Evans v. Techs. Apps.
& Serv. Co., 80 F.3d 954, 958–59 (4th Cir. 1996) (citations
The party seeking summary judgment has the initial
burden of showing the absence of a material fact.
v. Catrett 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986).
A genuine issue of
material fact exists “if the evidence is such that a reasonable
jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
Under Rule 12(e), a party may move for a more definite
statement “if a pleading to which a responsive pleading is
permitted is so vague or ambiguous that a party cannot
reasonably be required to frame a responsive pleading.”
Civ. P. 12(e).
Motions for more definite statements are
generally not favored, however.
See, e.g., Frederick v.
Koziol, 727 F.Supp. 1019, 1021 (E.D. Va. 1990) (denying motion
for more definite statement where court determined that
complaint was not so vague and ambiguous so as to preclude
defendant from framing a responsive pleading).
for more definite statements are “‘designed to strike at
unintelligibility rather than simple want of detail,’” and will
be granted “only when the complaint is so vague and ambiguous
that the defendant cannot frame a responsive pleading.”
Id. (quoting Scarbrough v. R-Way Furniture Co., 105 F.R.D. 90,
91 (E.D. Wis. 1985)); see also Wilson v. United States, 585
F.Supp. 202, 205 (M.D. Pa. 1984); In re Arthur Teacher's
Franchisee Litigation, 92 F.R.D. 398, 406 (E.D. Pa. 1981).
Motion to Dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6)
Defendants’ sole argument in their motion to dismiss
is that Plaintiff’s work is exempt from FLSA requirements
because she was a “bona fide administrative employee” who
managed AMS’s Virginia office and was paid a weekly salary of
“not less than $455.00.”
Def. Mem. in Supp. at 2.
As a result,
Defendants ask this Court dismiss Plaintiff’s Complaint.
Under the FLSA, covered employers must pay their
employees a minimum wage, currently fixed at $7.25 per hour.
U.S.C. § 206(a).
Employers must also pay their employees an
overtime rate of 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for each
hour they work over 40 hours per week.
Id. § 207(a).
FLSA’s requirements do not apply, however, to exempt employees,
including those employed in “a bona fide administrative
Id. § 213(a)(1).
Such employees are defined as
those who are “compensated on a salary or fee basis at a rate of
not less than $455 per week,” “whose primary duty is the
performance of office or non-office manual work directly related
to the management or general business operations of the employer
or the employer’s customers,” and “whose primary duty includes
the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect
to matters of significance.”
29 C.F.R. § 541.200.
In order to survive a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff
must allege that: (1) she was employed by the defendant, (2) the
defendant and its employees, including the plaintiff, were
engaged in interstate commerce, and (3) plaintiff was not
compensated for all hours worked during each work-week at a rate
equal to or greater than the applicable minimum wage or, with
respect to overtime, plaintiff was not compensated at a rate of
1.5 times her regular rate for each hour worked in excess of 40
hours per work-week.
See Chao v. Rivendell Woods Inc., 415 F.3d
342, 348 (4th Cir. 2005).
Plaintiff argues that she has pled
sufficient facts to survive Defendants’ 12(b)(6) motion to
This Court agrees.
In the instant case, Plaintiff’s Complaint includes
factual allegations with regards to each element of a properly
pled FLSA claim.
The Complaint asserts that Hall was employed
by AMS, that AMS engaged in interstate commerce, that Hall was
not compensated for all the hours she worked for AMS over a
four-year period, and that she was not an exempt employee.
Compl. ¶¶ 4, 10-11, 12-15, 19-23.
protestations to the contrary, that is all that is required at
this early stage.
See Stratton v. Farmers Produce Co., 134 F.2d
825, 827 (8th Cir. 1943) (finding that whether an employee is
exempt from the FLSA cannot be resolved at the pleading stage);
see also McLaughlin v. Boston Harbor Cruise Lines, Inc., 419
F.3d 47, 53 (1st Cir. 2005) (finding that dismissal on questions
of exempt status under 12(b)(6) is only appropriate “where it is
crystal clear under established law” that the exemption applies
under the FLSA); Moran v. GTL Constr., LLC, 2007 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 55098, at *4-8 (S.D.N.Y. 2007) (holding that the
determination as to whether a plaintiff is an exempt employee
cannot be decided “as a matter of law and based solely on
information from Plaintiff's complaint.”).
Thus, the Court
finds that Plaintiff has stated a plausible claim for relief
under the FLSA.
Accordingly, the Court will deny Defendants’
motion to dismiss.
Motion for Summary Judgment under Rule 56
Defendants’ next argument is that Plaintiff’s exempt
status entitles them to “judgment as a matter of law.”
Mem. in Supp. at 4.
In support of this position, Defendants
assert that Plaintiff was paid on a salary basis, starting at
$35,000 per year and ending at approximately $41,000 per year.
Declaration of David Schellhardt (“Schellhardt Decl.”) [Dkt. 31] ¶ 3.
When filing its reply brief, Defendants included a copy
of Plaintiff’s full payroll report from her time at AMS,
alleging that she had received the same gross salary every week
for the past four years, with the exception of increases in pay.
Exh. 2 [Dkt. 7].
Defendants also claim that Plaintiff’s job
duties required her to use discretion and independent judgment,
further establishing her exempt status.
For example, Hall
followed up to ensure customers paid for AMS’s services, relayed
jobsite assignments to employees, and tracked job completion.
Due to her exempt status, Defendants request that this
Court grant their motion for summary judgment.
Although motions for summary judgment can be filed at
any time during a case until 30 days after discovery has ended,
see Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a), Defendants’ motion here is premature.
It was filed without the benefit of discovery as well as without
the aid of proper argument and evidentiary support to meet the
movant’s burden of proof.
Thus, the Court will deny Defendants’
Motion for a More Definite Statement under Rule
Finally, Defendants ask this Court to order Plaintiff
to file an Amended Complaint addressing the precise timeframes
during which she contends Defendants allegedly violated the
FLSA, as well as whether she intends to pursue an equitable
Def. Mem. in Supp. at 10.
that, without such information, they cannot appropriately assert
a statute of limitations defense.
In her opposition, Plaintiff argues that a week-byweek calculation of unpaid wages is not yet possible, as the
bulk of the documentary evidence remains in the Defendants’
Opp. at 10-11.
Plaintiff also points out that such
matters are better addressed during discovery.
Id. at 11.
Here, Plaintiff’s Complaint contains sufficient facts
to put Defendants on notice as to the possible timing of her
It sets forth a specific four-year period for possible
FLSA violations: August 2012 to September 2016.
Compl. ¶ 4.
alleges that she worked hours for which she was not compensated,
that her hours were incorrectly recorded to avoid paying her
overtime, that she was not paid in a timely fashion, and that
Defendants failed to inform her or misled her regarding to FLSA
Id. ¶¶ 12-17.
Construed as a whole, Plaintiff’s
Complaint has provided sufficient detail to provide Defendants
with notice of the allegations upon which her claims are based.
Accordingly, the Court will deny Defendants’ motion for a more
For the reasons set forth above, the Court will deny
Defendants’ motion to dismiss.
The Court will also deny
Defendants’ motion for summary judgment.
Finally, the Court
will deny Defendants’ motion for a more definite statement.
An appropriate order will follow.
January 26, 2017
James C. Cacheris
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
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