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Silveira v. Beard

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

June 6, 2013

CARLOS SILVEIRA, GEOREGETTE PICKETT, and CHARLES HUGHES, as individuals and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
JEFFREY A. BEARD, in his official capacity as the Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and DOES 2 through 10, inclusive, Defendants.


ANTHONY W. ISHII, District Judge.

This is a collective action under 29 U.S.C. ยง 201 et seq., the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), brought by Plaintiffs against Defendant Jeffrey Beard ("Beard") in his official capacity as the Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR"). Plaintiffs complain about the calculation of wages and the retention of overtime wages by Beard. Plaintiffs pray for an injunction for the return of money to Plaintiffs, and for declaratory relief that Beard violated the FLSA. The operative complaint is the First Amended Complaint ("FAC"). Beard now moves to dismiss and strike the FAC. For the reasons that follow, the motion to dismiss will be granted.


From the FAC, Plaintiffs are or were employed by Beard in various correctional peace officer classifications at prisons in either Corcoran or Lancaster, California. By virtue of the terms of their employment and the FLSA, Plaintiffs were entitled to receive overtime pay. During certain weeks, Plaintiffs worked and were paid compensation for overtime. However, Beard allegedly wrongfully deducted and withheld from Plaintiffs' pay some of the overtime that was worked and earned. Beard conceded that the overtime was worked and earned by reflecting such amounts on the Plaintiffs' pay stubs. Beard has refused to return the overtime wages to Plaintiffs. Beard also has refused to correctly calculate the regular pay rate by not including non-discretionary pay (e.g. bonuses, fitness pay, and education pay) paid to Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs allege that they seek prospective relief in the form of enjoining and instructing Beard to release Plaintiffs' property and requiring Beard to properly calculate the regular rate of pay.


Rule 12(b)(1)

Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)allows for a motion to dismiss based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction. See Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 12(b)(1). It is a fundamental precept that federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Vacek v. United States Postal Serv. , 447 F.3d 1248, 1250 (9th Cir. 2006). Limits upon federal jurisdiction must not be disregarded or evaded. Owen Equipment & Erection Co. v. Kroger , 437 U.S. 365, 374 (1978). "It is presumed that a cause lies outside this limited jurisdiction, and the burden of establishing the contrary rests upon the party asserting jurisdiction." Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. , 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994); Vacek , 447 F.3d at 1250. Rule 12(b)(1) motions may be either facial, where the inquiry is confined to the allegations in the complaint, or factual, where the court is permitted to look beyond the complaint to extrinsic evidence. Wolfe v. Strankman , 392 F.3d 358, 362 (9th Cir. 2004); Safe Air For Everyone v. Meyer , 373 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 2004); Savage v. Glendale Union High School Dist. No. 205 , 343 F.3d 1036, 1040 n.2 (9th Cir. 2003). When a defendant challenges jurisdiction "facially, " all material allegations in the complaint are assumed true, and the question for the court is whether the lack of federal jurisdiction appears from the face of the pleading itself. See Wolfe , 392 F.3d at 362; Meyer , 373 F.3d at 1039. However, courts do not accept the truth of legal conclusions merely because they are cast in the form of factual allegations. Doe v. Holy See , 557 F.3d 1066, 1073 (9th Cir. 2009). When a defendant makes a factual challenge "by presenting affidavits or other evidence properly brought before the court, the party opposing the motion must furnish affidavits or other evidence necessary to satisfy its burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction." Meyer , 373 F.3d at 1039; Savage , 343 F.3d at 1039 n.2. The court need not presume the truthfulness of the plaintiff's allegations under a factual attack. Wood v. City of San Diego , 678 F.3d 1075, 1083 n.2 (9th Cir. 2011).

Rule 12(b)(6)

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a claim may be dismissed because of the plaintiff's "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) may be based on the lack of a cognizable legal theory or on the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory. Conservation Force v. Salazar , 646 F.3d 1240, 1242 (9th Cir. 2011); Johnson v. Riverside Healthcare Sys. , 534 F.3d 1116, 1121 (9th Cir. 2008). In reviewing a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), all allegations of material fact are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Faulkner v. ADT Sec. Servs. , 706 F.3d 1017, 1019 (9th Cir. 2013); Johnson , 534 F.3d at 1121. However, the Court is not required "to accept as true allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences." Willson v. Hewlett-Packard Co. , 668 F.3d 1136, 1145 n. 4 (9th Cir. 2012); Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors , 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001). To "avoid a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal, "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009); see Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal , 129 S.Ct. at 1949. The Ninth Circuit has distilled the following principles from Iqbal and Twombly:

First, to be entitled to the presumption of truth, allegations in a complaint or counterclaim may not simply recite the elements of a cause of action, but must contain sufficient allegations of underlying facts to give fair notice and to enable the opposing party to defend itself effectively. Second, the factual allegations that are taken as true must plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief, such that it is not unfair to require the opposing party to be subjected to the expense of discovery and continued litigation.

Starr v. Baca , 652 F.3d 1202, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011). If a motion to dismiss is granted, "[the] district court should grant leave to amend even if no request to amend the pleading was made...." Henry A. v. Willden , 678 F.3d 991, 1005 (9th Cir. 2012). However, leave to amend need not be granted if amendment would be futile or if the plaintiff has failed to cure deficiencies despite repeated opportunities. See Mueller v. Aulker , 700 F.3d 1180, 1191 (9th Cir. 2012); Telesaurus VPC, LLC v. Power , 623 F.3d 998, 1003 (9th Cir. 2010).


Defendant's Argument

Beard argues that the entire complaint should be dismissed due to Eleventh Amendment immunity. The FLSA does not waive sovereign immunity for suits by private individuals, and California has not chosen to waive its immunity. Although Plaintiffs attempt to invoke Ex parte Young for both injunctive and declaratory relief, the attempt fails. With respect to the injunctive relief, Plaintiffs are really seeking monetary damages for past violations of the FLSA. Plaintiffs are seeking an injunction that requires California to pay money for the past overtime hours worked. Because Plaintiffs are seeking compensation for a past injury, the injunctive relief is retrospective and outside of Ex parte Young. With respect to the declaratory relief, Plaintiffs seek a declaration that Beard "violated the FLSA." However, Ex parte Young does not permit declarations that merely declare a past violation of federal law. Because the requested declaration is retrospective, declaratory relief is unavailable. Finally, the "wrongfully withheld" property exception to sovereign immunity does not apply because this case is not about property that was seized by California pursuant to a statutory scheme or through unconstitutional acts. Instead, Plaintiffs are making claims for restitution, which is indistinguishable from a claim for simple monetary damages.

Additionally, Plaintiffs do not have standing to seek prospective injunctive relief under the FLSA. Injunctive relief under the FLSA may only be obtained by the Secretary of Labor.

Finally, former employees do not have standing to obtain prospective relief because they will not suffer future wage loss. Because Carlos Silveira ...

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