United States District Court, E.D. California
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER RE: DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS (Doc. 12)
LAWRENCE J. O'NEILL, District Judge.
I. PRELIMINARY STATEMENT TO PARTIES AND COUNSEL
Judges in the Eastern District of California carry the heaviest caseloads in the nation, and this Court is unable to devote inordinate time and resources to individual cases and matters. Given the shortage of district judges and staff, this Court addresses only the arguments, evidence, and matters necessary to reach the decision in this order. The parties and counsel are encouraged to contact the offices of United States Senators Feinstein and Boxer to address this Court's inability to accommodate the parties and this action. The parties are required to reconsider consent to conduct all further proceedings before a Magistrate Judge, whose schedules are far more realistic and accommodating to parties than that of U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill, who must prioritize criminal and older civil cases.
Civil trials set before Judge O'Neill trail until he becomes available and are subject to suspension mid-trial to accommodate criminal matters. Civil trials are no longer reset to a later date if Judge O'Neill is unavailable on the original date set for trial. Moreover, this Court's Fresno Division randomly and without advance notice reassigns civil actions to U.S. District Judges throughout the nation to serve as visiting judges. In the absence of Magistrate Judge consent, this action is subject to reassignment to a U.S. District Judge from outside the Eastern District of California.
Plaintiffs Martin Korndobler, Stephen Ernst, Matt Miller, Christopher Cruz and Greg Chaney are current or former employees of Defendant DNC Parks & Resorts at Sequoia ("DNC"), a concessioner operating in Sequoia National Park ("SNP"). Plaintiffs allege that Defendant is liable under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., California's Unfair Trade Practices Act ("CUTPA"), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 et seq., and California Labor Code §§ 1194, 1164.2 & 1197.1 for failure to pay minimum and overtime wages for on-call work.
III. FACTUAL BACKGROUND
Plaintiffs have all worked in the maintenance department of Defendant's operations in SNP. Compl. ¶¶ 3, 10-14. Their duties include maintaining and repairing facilities and snow removal. Id. Plaintiffs work "several" shifts a week on an on-call basis. Id. at ¶ 19. On-call shifts begin with the end of one day's shift and continue through the beginning of the next day's shift, lasting between 14 and 16 hours. Id. at ¶¶ 19, 29. During these shifts, Plaintiffs must carry and monitor radios and remain within the range of the radio's range (between a half and two miles of Defendant's operation). Id. at ¶¶ 20-21. Plaintiffs must respond within 15 minutes for a maintenance call and within 30 minutes for a snow removal call. Id. at ¶ 22. Plaintiffs must remain ready to work during these periods. Id.
Plaintiffs are not paid a wage for time spent waiting for calls. Id. at ¶ 23. Rather, they are only paid for work performed when they are called out and clocked in to perform work on a recorded work order. Id. Plaintiffs allege that at times they have been called in, but not paid, because work orders were cancelled prior to their arrival. Id. Plaintiffs also allege that they are often called for technical advice for which they are not paid. Id. Plaintiffs are subject to discipline if they fail to respond to a call. Id. During the winter months, Plaintiffs are required to perform storm watch shifts in addition to maintenance call shifts. Id. at ¶ 24. While on storm watch shifts, Plaintiffs are subject to the same constraints as they are during maintenance call shifts. Id. at ¶¶ 24-26.
IV. PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Plaintiffs filed their Complaint on March 25, 2015. Compl., Doc. 1. On April 30, 2015, Defendant DNC Parks moved to dismiss Plaintiffs' state law claims pursuant to Fed R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) on the basis that they do not apply to activities in national parks under the Federal Enclave doctrine. Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss ("MTD"), Doc. 12. Defendant also argues that Plaintiff Korndobler's claims are time barred. Id. Plaintiffs responded on June 1, 2015. Pls.' Opposition to Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss ("Opposition"), Doc. 17. Defendant replied on June 8, 2015. Def.'s Reply ("Reply"), Doc. 20. A hearing was originally scheduled for June 15, 2015, but was taken off calendar pursuant to Local Rule 230(g).
V. STANDARD OF DECISION
A motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) is a challenge to the sufficiency of the allegations set forth in the complaint. A 12(b)(6) dismissal is proper where there is either a "lack of a cognizable legal theory" or "the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory." Balisteri v. Pacifica Police Dept., 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the court generally accepts as true the allegations in the complaint, construes the pleading in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion, and resolves all doubts in the pleader's favor. Lazy Y. Ranch LTD v. Behrens, 546 F.3d 580, 588 (9th Cir. 2008).
To survive a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). "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. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). "Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility for entitlement to relief.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).
"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." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal citations omitted). Thus, "bare assertions... amount[ing] to nothing more than a formulaic recitation of the elements'... are not entitled to be assumed true." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681. In practice, "a complaint... must contain either direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements necessary to sustain recovery under some viable legal theory." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 562. In other words, the Complaint must describe the alleged misconduct in enough detail to lay the foundation for an identified legal claim.
To the extent that the pleadings can be cured by the allegation of additional facts, the plaintiff should be afforded leave to amend. Cook, Perkiss and Liehe, Inc. v. Northern California Collection Serv. Inc., ...