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Kellgren v. Petco Animal Supplies, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. California

June 6, 2014

ERIK KELLGREN, Individually and on Behalf of All Other Persons Similarly Situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
PETCO ANIMAL SUPPLIES, INC., et al., Defendants.

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFF'S FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT [DOC. 21-1.]

M. JAMES LORENZ, District Judge.

Pending before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). ( MTD [Doc. 21-1]; Reply [Doc. 27].) Plaintiffs oppose. ( Opp'n [Doc. 25].) The Court found this motion suitable for determination on the papers submitted and without oral argument in accordance with Civil Local Rule 7.1(d.1). ( December 2, 2013 Order [Doc. 24].) For the following reasons, the Court DENIES Defendants' motion.

Also pending before the Court is Plaintiff's fully briefed motion for equitable tolling. ( Equitable Tolling Mot. [Doc. 28-1].). For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's motion.

I. BACKGROUND

According to the Complaint, Plaintiff Erik Kellgren worked for Defendants Petco Animal Supplies, Inc. And Petco Holdings, Inc. ("Petco") from approximately 2007 until October 2010. ( Compl. ¶ 9.) During this time, Mr. Kellgren worked as an assistant store manager at various locations in Illinois. ( Id. ) The gravamen of Mr. Kellgren's Complaint was that during his and the collective action members' employment at Petco, Petco failed to properly compensate Mr. Kellgren and the collective action members for overtime work they performed. (Compl. ¶¶ 51, 52.) The only cause of action in the Complaint is for violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"). ( Id. ¶¶44-58.)

On April 10, 2013, Petco moved to dismiss the Complaint on a number of gounds. ( Previous MTD [Doc. 3-1].) First, Petco argued that Kellgren's Complaint was subject to a two-year statute of limitations because he had failed to adequately plead a "willful violation" of the FLSA. ( Id. 6-9.) Therefore, according to Petco, Kellgren's FLSA claim was time-barred since he failed his complaint on March 19, 2013. ( Id. 8-9.) Second, Petco argued that even if Kellgren's FLSA claim was not time-barred, it was inadequately pled because it was "entirely conclusory and devoid of facts." ( Id. 9.) Kellgren opposed, arguing that he had pled facts supporting Petco's "willful" violation of the FLSA and that he had sufficiently pled the FLSA claim. ( See generally Previous Opp'n [Doc. 8]. )

On September 13, 2013, the Court granted in part and denied in part Petco's motion to dismiss. ( September 13, 2013 Order [Doc. 18].) In that order, the Court found that the original Complaint contained no factual allegations demonstrating that Petco willfully violated the FLSA. ( Id. 6: 6-17.) The Court granted Kellgren leave to amend to plead willfulness. ( Id. 7:1-2.)

On September 25, 2013, Kellgren filed his First Amended Complaint ("FAC"), adding allegations that Defendants: (1) failed to provide labor budget funds and take into account the impact of the underfunded labor budgets on the job duties of Kellgren and the collective action members; (2) failed to allow Kellgren and the collective action members to record all hours worked; and (3) failed to post or keep posted a notice regarding the minimum and overtime wages. ( FAC ¶¶ 36, 38, 41, 55, 56.)

On October 11, 2013, Petco moved to dismiss the FAC, arguing that Kellgren's additional allegations are entirely conclusory and fail to establish Petco willfully violated the FLSA. (See generally MTD. ) On December 5, 2013, Kellgren filed an opposition to the motion to dismiss, alleging that he has stated a plausible willfulness claim. ( See generally Opp'n. ) On December 12, 2013, Petco filed a reply in further support of its motion to dismiss. ( See generally Reply. )

On March 28, 2014, Kellgren moved for equitable tolling of the FLSA collective members' claims, arguing that equitable tolling is the only way to protect potential collective members' FLSA rights... and the FLSA's remedial purposes." ( Eq. Toll. Mot. 1.) Petco opposes, arguing, inter alia, that Petco has not prevented any of the potential collective members from pursuing their claims. ( Eq. Toll. Opp'n [Doc. 29] 7-8.)

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Courts must dismiss a cause of action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the complaint's sufficiency. Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). A complaint may be dismissed as a matter of law either for lack of a cognizable legal theory or for insufficient facts under a cognizable theory. Balisteri v. Pacific Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). In ruling on the motion, a court must "accept all material allegations of fact as true and construe the complaint in a light most favorable to the non-moving party." Vasquez v. L.A. Cnty., 487 F.3d 1246, 1249 (9th Cir. 2007).

However, the courts are not "required to accept as true allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences." Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001). "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 Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Instead, the allegations in the complaint 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) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "The plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id.

Generally, courts may not consider material outside the complaint when ruling on a motion to dismiss. Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner & Co., 896 F.2d 1542, 1555 n. 19 (9th Cir. 1990). However, courts may consider documents specifically identified in the complaint whose authenticity is not questioned by parties. Fecht v. Price Co., 70 F.3d 1078, 1080 n. 1 (9th Cir. 1995) (superceded by statutes on other grounds). Moreover, courts may consider the full text of those documents, even when the complaint quotes only selected portions. Id. Courts may also consider material properly subject to judicial notice without converting the motion into one for summary judgment. Barron v. Reich, 13 F.3d 1370, 1377 (9th Cir. ...


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