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Andresen v. International Paper Co.

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

May 23, 2013

JARED ANDRESEN, ET AL.
v.
INTERNATIONAL PAPER COMPANY, ET AL.

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

CHRISTINA A. SNYDER, District Judge.

Proceedings: (In Chambers:) DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS (filed May 6, 2013) [Dkt. No. 15].

I. INTRODUCTION

The Court finds this motion appropriate for decision without oral argument. Fed.R.Civ.P. 78; Local Rule 7-15. Accordingly, the hearing date of June 3, 2013, is vacated, and the matter is hereby taken under submission.

On February 13, 2013, plaintiffs Jared Andresen, Yeghia Bekiarian, and John Duffy filed suit against defendants International Paper Company, d/b/a Container the Americas ("IP") and Does 1-50 in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Defendant IP removed the action to this Court on March 22, 2013. Dkt. No. 1. Plaintiffs are former employees of defendant who allege that defendant has deprived them of severance pay, vested vacation wages, and commissions they accrued during their employment. Plaintiffs filed the operative First Amended Complaint ("FAC") on April 22, 2013, asserting claims for: (1) failure to pay vested vacation wages upon termination; (2) failure to pay wages, including commissions earned and/or owed; (3) violation of California waiting period penalties, Labor Code § 203; (4) violation of California unfair competition law, Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 et seq.; (5) violation of California record-keeping provisions, Labor Code § 226; (6) breach of contract; and (7) breach of contract based on promissory estoppel.

On May 6, 2013, defendant filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Dkt. No. 15. Plaintiffs opposed the motion on May 16, 2013, and defendant filed a reply on May 20, 2013. After considering the parties' arguments, the Court finds and concludes as follows.

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs allege the following facts in support of their claims. All three plaintiffs began their employment as full-time sales representatives with a company called Crocket Containers. Plaintiff Andresen began his employment in or about 1977; plaintiff Duffy in or about 1986; and plaintiff Bekiarian in or about 1972. FAC ¶¶ 7, 9-10. In 1990, a company by the name of Temple-Inland acquired Crocket Containers. Id . ¶ 7. In 2012, IP acquired Temple-Inland, at which time plaintiffs became employees of defendant. Id.

Plaintiffs Andresen and Duffy allege that they were wrongfully deprived of commissions on sales they achieved in 2012 before their departure from IP. Plaintiff Andresen was supposed to receive commissions related to sales with customer Grimway Enterprises; Duffy was supposed to receive a commission on his sales to a number of specific entities. Id . ¶¶ 11-14. Although both plaintiffs made sales to their respective target companies while at IP, neither received their commissions despite numerous complaints to management and human resources. Id . ¶ 17. Andresen alleges he is owed approximately $22, 000 in commissions; Duffy alleges that he is owed $8, 000. Id . ¶ 16.

In addition, all three plaintiffs allegedly were afforded paid vacation days pursuant to defendant IP and its acquired companies' vacation policies. Id . ¶ 18. As a result of these policies, plaintiffs acquired a substantial amount of vested vacation time for which they seek payment. Based upon the vacation accrual policy set forth in IP's employee handbook, plaintiff Andresen accrued 2, 671 hours of vested and unused vacation time; Bekiarian accrued 5, 680 hours of vested and unused vacation time; and Duffy accrued 2, 836 hours of vested and unused vacation time. Id . ¶¶ 19-22. No plaintiff has received compensation for their accrued vacation time, which they claim amounts to $300, 000 for Andresen and Duffy and $780, 000 for Bekiarian. Id . ¶¶ 23-25.

III. LEGAL STANDARD

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the legal sufficiency of the claims asserted in a complaint. "While 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 Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). "[F]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id.

In considering a motion pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a court must accept as true all material allegations in the complaint, as well as all reasonable inferences to be drawn from them. Pareto v. F.D.I.C. , 139 F.3d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1998). The complaint must be read in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors , 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001); Parks Sch. of Bus., Inc. v. Symington , 51 F.3d 1480, 1484 (9th Cir. 1995). However, "[i]n keeping with these principles a court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009); Moss v. United States Secret Service , 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009) ("[F]or a complaint to survive a motion to dismiss, the non-conclusory factual content, ' and reasonable inferences from that content, must be plausibly suggestive of a claim entitling the plaintiff to relief.") (citing Twombly and Iqbal); Sprewell , 266 F.3d at 988; W. Mining Council v. Watt , 643 F.2d 618, 624 (9th Cir. 1981). Ultimately, "[d]etermining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will... be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Iqbal , 129 S.Ct. at 1950.

Furthermore, unless a court converts a Rule 12(b)(6) motion into a motion for summary judgment, a court cannot consider material outside of the complaint (e.g., facts presented in briefs, affidavits, or discovery materials). In re American Cont'l Corp./Lincoln Sav. & Loan Sec. Litig. , 102 F.3d 1524, 1537 (9th Cir. 1996), rev'd on other grounds sub nom Lexecon, Inc. v. Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach , 523 U.S. 26 (1998). A court may, however, consider exhibits submitted with or alleged in the complaint and matters that may be judicially noticed pursuant to Federal Rule of ...


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