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Jimenez v. JP Morgan Chase & Co.

May 8, 2008

CONCEPCION JIMENEZ, ON BEHALF OF HERSELF AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JP MORGAN CHASE & CO., ET. AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Thomas J. Whelan United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING-IN-PART AND DENYING-IN-PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO RULE 12(b)(6) AND RULE 12(b)(1) (Doc. Nos. 11, 12)

On January 24, 2008 Plaintiff Concepcion Jimenez ("Plaintiff"), on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, commenced this class action against Defendants JP Morgan Chase & Co. et. al. ("JP Morgan" or "Defendants") alleging various violations of federal and state labor laws. (Doc. No. 1.) Pending before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint for failure to state a claim and lack of standing. (Doc. Nos. 11, 12.) The Court takes the matter under submission and without oral argument. See S.D. Cal. Civ. R. 7.1(d)(1). For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS-IN-PART and DENIES-IN-PART Defendants' motion.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Concepcion Jimenez, a California resident, worked as a Loan Officer for Defendants JP Morgan Chase & Co, et. al. (Compl. ¶ 33.) Defendants are a collection of affiliated banks which provide loan products and financial services across the country. (Id. ¶¶ 34--38.)

In summer 2007, Plaintiff's employment with Defendant was terminated. (Mills Decl. Ex. 3 at 10 [hereinafter "Release Agreement"].) In exchange for severance pay and benefits, Plaintiff signed a "Release Agreement" ("Release") that, subject to certain exceptions, released Defendants from any and all claims and waiver protections under federal, state, local and common law. (Id. at 8.) One exception, however, preserved Plaintiff's right to bring a federal Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") claim for Defendants' failure to pay minimum wages or overtime. (Id.)

Under the Release Agreement's terms, Plaintiff agreed not to file a lawsuit on any released claims and promised not to participate in a class or collective action against JP Morgan. (Id. at 8--9.) Furthermore, Plaintiff represented that Defendants had paid all compensation owed to her, including overtime, as of the Release date. (Id.)

Before signing, Defendants allowed Plaintiff forty-five days to consider the Release Agreement, and Plaintiff was offered an additional seven days to revoke acceptance after signing. (Id. at 10.) Plaintiff attested that she signed the Release knowingly and voluntarily, and acknowledged that Defendants advised her to discuss the Release with her own attorney. (Id.)

On January 24, 2008 Plaintiff, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, commenced this class action against Defendants JP Morgan Chase & Co. et. al. alleging various violations of federal and state labor laws. (Doc. No. 1.) Plaintiff alleges that while she worked at JP Morgan, Defendants had a policy and practice of: (1) refusing to pay overtime compensation to Loan Officers who worked in excess of eight hours per day and/or forty hours per week, (2) failing to provide Loan Officers with all required meal and rest breaks, (3) failing to reimburse work-related expenses, (4) failing to maintain accurate records of hours worked and wages paid, and (5) failing to pay all wages upon cessation of employment. (Id. ¶ 9.) Plaintiff seeks damages on her behalf, and also seeks to certify a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure*fn1 23 "opt-out" class action and a FLSA "opt-in" collective action for other "similarly situated" plaintiffs. (Id. Prayer for Relief.)

On April 3, 2008 Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint under Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6), arguing that Plaintiff's Complaint failed to state a claim, that Plaintiff lacked standing, and that the Court lacked jurisdiction to provide Plaintiff with redress. (Doc. No. 12.) On April 22, 2008, per an extension, Plaintiff filed her Opposition brief. (Doc. No. 13.) On May 1, 2008 Defendants filed their Reply. (Doc. No. 17.)

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Rule 12(b)(6) permits the court to dismiss a complaint, or a count therein, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). A motion to dismiss under this rule tests the complaint's sufficiency. See N. Star Int'l v. Ariz. Corp. Comm'n, 720 F.2d 578, 581 (9th Cir. 1983). Dismissal of a claim according to this rule is proper only in "extraordinary" cases. United States v. Redwood City, 640 F.2d 963, 966 (9th Cir. 1981).

A complaint may be dismissed as a matter of law for two reasons: (1) lack of a cognizable legal theory, or (2) insufficient facts under a cognizable theory. Robertson v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 749 F.2d 530, 534 (9th Cir. 1984). As the Supreme Court recently explained, "[w]hile 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 'entitlement to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964 (2007). Rather, the allegations in the complaint "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. at 1964--65. All material allegations in the complaint, "even if doubtful in fact," are assumed to be true, id., and the court must "construe them in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party," Gompper v. VISX, Inc., 298 F.3d 893, 895 (9th Cir. 2002). In other words, the court construes the complaint and all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Walleri v. Fed. Home Loan Bank of Seattle, 83 F.3d 1575, 1580 (9th Cir. 1996).

Rule 12(b)(1) provides that a court may dismiss a claim for "lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter[.]" Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1). Although the defendant is the moving party in a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff is the party invoking the court's jurisdiction. Therefore, the plaintiff bears the burden of proof on the necessary jurisdictional facts. McCauley v. Ford Motor Co., 264 F.3d 952, 957 (9th Cir. 2001).

"Unlike a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a Rule 12(b)(1) motion can attack the substance of a complaint's jurisdictional allegations despite their formal sufficiency, and in so doing rely on affidavits or any other evidence properly before the court." St. Clair v. City of Chico, 880 F.2d 199, 201 (9th Cir. 1989) (citing Thornhill Publishing Co. v. General Tel. & Elec. Corp., 594 F.2d 730, 733 (9th Cir. 1979)); see ...


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