United States District Court, S.D. California
RONALD YOUNG, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, and on behalf of the general public, Plaintiff,
AMERIGAS PROPANE, INC., Defendant.
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS (ECF No. 6)
CYNTHIA BASHANT, District Judge.
On February 10, 2014, Plaintiff Ronald Young ("Plaintiff") commenced this putative class action in San Diego Superior Court against Defendant AmeriGas Propane, Inc. ("AmeriGas"), his former employer, alleging violations of California labor laws requiring employers to provide meal and rest breaks. (ECF No. 1.) As a result of this failure to provide meal breaks, Plaintiff alleges AmeriGas also failed to pay for the resulting overtime, improperly took auto-meal deductions from wages, and failed to provide accurate itemized employee wage statements. ( Id. ) AmeriGas removed this action to federal court on March 13, 2014. ( Id. )
Nine months before this action was filed in the Southern District of California, a similar class action involving the same defendant and a similarly-defined putative class, was filed in the Central District of California. (ECF No. 8.) In that case, on behalf of the putative class, of which the named Plaintiff in this case is a member, the complaint also alleges violations of California labor laws requiring employers to provide meal and rest breaks, failure to pay for the resulting overtime and failure to provide accurate itemized employee wage statements. ( Id. )
AmeriGas now moves in this matter to dismiss the Complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) claiming that an Agreement and General Release signed by Plaintiff at the end of his employment bars all of Plaintiff's claims. (ECF No. 6.) Alternatively, AmeriGas moves to transfer this case to the Central District of California under the "first-to file" rule which permits a district court to dismiss, stay or transfer an action where a complaint involving the same parties and issues has already been filed in another district. (ECF No. 8.) Plaintiff opposes both motions.
The Court finds these motions suitable for determination on the papers submitted and without oral argument. See Civ. L.R. 7.1(d)(1). For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS AmeriGas' motion to dismiss Plaintiff with prejudice. Since Plaintiff is currently the only named plaintiff in this action, the Court also GRANTS AmeriGas' motion to dismiss the class action and other members of the class without prejudice. Furthermore, because the Court grants AmeriGas' motion to dismiss (ECF No. 6), AmeriGas' motion to dismiss, stay, or transfer (ECF No. 8) is TERMINATED AS MOOT.
Plaintiff alleges he worked "as an industrial truck worker, industrial truck driver, industrial vehicle driver, and/or industrial worker" for AmeriGas and was "paid on an hourly basis" for at least four years. (ECF No. 1-1 ("Compl.") at ¶¶ 18, 22.) Plaintiff alleges: (1) he and other members of the putative class were required to work without legally mandated meal and/or rest breaks; (2) auto-meal deductions were taken from their wages without actually providing meal breaks, (3) they were not provided all straight time and overtime compensation; (4) they were not provided accurate itemized employee wage statements; and (5) they were not paid all compensation upon termination from employment and were therefore entitled to waiting time penalties under California Labor Code § 203. ( Id. at ¶¶ 18, 23, 31, 40-86, 125-129.) In addition, Plaintiff seeks damages for fraud, claiming AmeriGas promised to pay all wages to induce workers to continue working without meal breaks, conversion, unjust enrichment, and unfair competition under Business and Professions Code §§ 17200 et seq. ( Id. at ¶¶ 87-124, 130-138.) All of Plaintiff's claims relate to his employment with AmeriGas.
When Plaintiff left his employment at AmeriGas in April 2013, in exchange for severance pay of $6, 409.60, he executed an Agreement and General Release ("Agreement"). (ECF No. 6-2, Exh. A.) As part of the Agreement, Plaintiff released AmeriGas:
from any actions, suits, debts, claims and demands whatsoever in law or in equity, which [Plaintiff] ever had, now has, or may have...from the beginning of [Plaintiff's] employment with [AmeriGas]...to the date of this Agreement...and particularly, but without limitation...any claims arising from or relating in any way to [Plaintiff's] employment relationship or the termination of [Plaintiff's] employment relationship with [AmeriGas]....
( Id. at ¶ 2.) In addition, Plaintiff agreed to give up any rights under California Civil Code §1542 and stipulated:
[Plaintiff] hereby acknowledges that he...may hereafter discover claims or facts in addition to, or different from, those which [Plaintiff] now knows or believes to exist, but that he...expressly agrees to fully, finally and forever release any and all claims, known and unknown, suspected or unsuspected, which exist or may exist on his...behalf against [AmeriGas] at the time of execution of this Agreement, including, but not limited to, any and all claims relating to or arising from [Plaintiff's] employment with [AmeriGas] or the cessation of that employment.
( Id. at ¶ 4 (collectively with ¶ 2, referred to hereinafter as the "Release").) The Agreement further provides that Plaintiff "has signed this Agreement...with the intention of releasing all claims against the Employer and Affiliates in exchange for the payment described [in the Release], which the [Plaintiff] acknowledges is valid and sufficient consideration" for the Release. ( Id. at ¶ 3(a)).
The Agreement also specifically provides that an employee has forty-five (45) days to consider whether or not to sign after being presented with the Agreement and has seven (7) days after signing to revoke his consent. ( Id. at ¶ 3(b)). Finally, the Agreement advises that an employee signing ...