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Weigele v. FedEx Ground Package System

November 15, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Janis L. Sammartino United States District Judge


Presently before the Court is Defendant FedEx Ground Package System, Inc.'s motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' second amended complaint. (Doc. No. 284.) Also before the Court are Plaintiffs' opposition and Defendant's reply.*fn1 (Doc. Nos. 286, 287.) Having fully considered the parties' arguments and the law, the Court GRANTS Defendant's motion to dismiss.


The parties in this case are well aware of the factual background of this matter. The Court's Order granting Plaintiff Michael Weigele's motion for class certification described the relevant factual background, which the Court repeats here in relevant part.

Defendant FedEx ("FedEx") operates a ground package delivery system throughout the United States. Plaintiffs, former FedEx managers, allege that Defendant[] improperly classified them as exempt from overtime pay because they spent the majority of their time conducting non-managerial (non-exempt) tasks, including package handling. Plaintiffs also argue that since they were in fact non-exempt employees, they were improperly denied meal and rest breaks during their tenure.

FedEx's operations involve unloading inbound packages, sorting, moving to outbound docks and ports, and loading onto vans and trailers for delivery. There are two divisions at FedEx: the Ground Division, consisting of Satellite and Hub facilities, and the Home Delivery division, which are either stand-alone facilities, or are co-located with Ground Division Satellites.

At both Ground Satellite and Ground Hub facilities there are Senior Managers who are in charge of the entire operation. There are also Sort Managers that serve as assistant managers for the Senior Manager. Next, there are Dock Service Managers, that serve essentially as assistants to the Sort Mangers, and work directly with hourly-paid Package Handler employees. At the Home Delivery facilities, there are no Sort Managers, but there are Dock Service Managers that report directly to the Senior Managers.

As of March 2005, FedEx handled 2.66 million packages per day and had grown 16% year over year. Given this large volume, Defendant[] [has] created standardized policies, procedures, standards, manuals, task lists, work flow processes[,] and engineering for many of the elements of their operation. For example, Defendant[] [has] created training manuals on handling packages, loading vans, increasing production[,] and handling time cards. Defendant[] [has] conducted studies on their operations that have concluded "Too much of our management's time is spent loading" and "Focus is to free up Managers from loading." Defendant[] [has] also uniformly classified management positions, including . . . Dock Service Managers, as exempt from overtime compensation.

Plaintiffs allege that due to corporate's productivity goals, understaffing, tight hourly budgets allocated towards package handlers, high turnover of hourly employees, absenteeism, and equipment failures, their primary duty was package handling--a non-exempt activity. Plaintiffs also allege that they were forced to miss meal and rest breaks in violation of California law. (Doc. No. 111, at 1--3 (citations omitted).)

On February 12, 2008, the Court certified five classes of FedEx employees. (Id.) On October 8, 2009, Plaintiffs Weigele, Tessa Bishop, and Jose Vallardes filed a first amended complaint. (Doc. No. 204 (FAC).) On April 5, 2010, the Court decertified the four remaining*fn2 classes in light of the Ninth Circuit's decisions in In re Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Overtime Pay Litigation, 571 F.3d 953 (9th Cir. 2009) and Vinole v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 571 F.3d 935 (9th Cir. 2009). (Doc. No. 265 (Decertification Order).) On August 4, 2010, the Court granted Plaintiffs Weigele, Bishop, and Vallardes's motion for leave to file a second amended complaint. (Doc. No. 279.) Plaintiffs filed their second amended complaint on August 11, 2010. (Doc. No. 281 (SAC).)

Plaintiffs' SAC asserts the same five causes of action as the original complaint and the FAC. (Compare SAC ¶¶ 24--41, with FAC ¶¶ 30--47, and Doc. No. 1 (Compl.) ¶¶ 29--46.) The SAC differs from the FAC in two material ways. First, in light of the Court's Decertification Order, the SAC contains no class allegations or class action references. (See SAC.) Second and especially relevant to the instant motion, the SAC names eighteen additional individual Plaintiffs (the added Plaintiffs).*fn3 (See id. ¶ 10.) Plaintiffs allege that the added Plaintiffs have "elected to pursue their claims in this action individually based upon the common facts that they were employed as 'Dock Service Managers,' in California for the Defendant at various periods since May 2002." (Id.)


Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits a party to raise by motion the defense that the complaint "fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted," generally referred to as a motion to dismiss. The Court evaluates whether a complaint states a cognizable legal theory and sufficient facts in light of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a), which requires a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Although Rule 8 "does not require 'detailed factual allegations,' . . . it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, - U.S. -, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). In other words, "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." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). "Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders 'naked assertion[s]' devoid of 'further factual enhancement.'" Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). Rule 8 "does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions." Id. at 1950.

"To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). A claim is facially plausible when the facts pled "allow[] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). That is not to say that the claim must be probable, but there must be "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. Facts "'merely consistent with' a defendant's liability" fall short of a plausible entitlement to relief. Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). Further, the Court need not accept as true "legal conclusions" contained in the complaint. Id. This review requires context-specific analysis involving the Court's "judicial experience ...

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