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Clark v. EmCare, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

March 21, 2017

CATHY CLARK, an individual, Plaintiff,
v.
EMCARE, INC., a corporation; and DOES 1 through 50, inclusive, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT [13]

          OTIS D. WRIGHT, II UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This action arises from Defendant EmCare, Inc.'s alleged misclassification of Plaintiff Cathy Clark as an exempt salaried employee. (First Am. Compl. (“FAC”) ¶ 5, ECF No. 9.) Before the Court is EmCare's motion to dismiss the First Amended Complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Mot. to Dismiss (“MTD”), ECF No. 13.) For the reasons discussed below, the Court GRANTS Defendant's motion with leave to amend.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff worked for EmCare as a “nurse scheduler, ” which she alleges is a non-exempt position. (FAC ¶ 5.) Plaintiff alleges that she was incorrectly classified as an exempt salaried employee by EmCare. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that this incorrect classification resulted in EmCare “violat[ing] numerous provisions of the California Labor Code, including failure to pay overtime, failure to pay minimum wage for all hours worked, failure to provide meal and rest breaks . . . failure to furnish accurate and itemized wage statements[, ]. . . . [and] fail[ure] to compensate Plaintiff at the time of termination.” (Id. ¶ 7.)

         On July 28, 2016, Plaintiff filed this action in the Santa Barbara Superior Court. (Not. of Removal, Ex. 1, ECF No. 1-1.) EmCare removed the case to federal court based on diversity jurisdiction. (ECF No. 1.) EmCare subsequently moved to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim. (ECF No. 7.) Instead of opposing the motion, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint under Rule 15(a)(1)(B), thus mooting EmCare's motion. (ECF Nos. 9, 11.) Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint alleges five causes of action: (1) failure to pay overtime wages in violation of California Labor Code sections 510, 1194, and 1198; (2) failure to provide meal and rest periods in violation of California Labor Code sections 226.7 and 512; (3) failure to furnish and keep accurate itemized wage statements and payroll in violation of California Labor Code section 226; (4) unfair competition in violation of California Business and Professions Code section 17200 et seq.; and (5) failure to pay compensation at the time of termination in violation of California Labor Code sections 201 and 203. (ECF No. 9.)

         EmCare also moved to dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), arguing that Plaintiff failed to sufficiently plead each of her five causes of action. (ECF No. 13.) Plaintiff filed a timely opposition, and EmCare filed a timely reply. (ECF Nos. 14, 15.) That motion is now before the Court for review.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         A court may dismiss a complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) for “lack of a cognizable legal theory or . . . [in]sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory.” Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990) (citing Robertson v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 749 F.2d 530, 533-34 (9th Cir. 1984)). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint need only satisfy the minimal notice pleading requirements of Rule 8(a)(2): “a short and plain statement of the claim.” Porter v. Jones, 319 F.3d 483, 494 (9th Cir. 2003). The “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). That is, 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) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp., 550 U.S. at 570).

         The determination whether a complaint satisfies the plausibility standard is a “context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id. at 679 (citing Iqbal v. Hasty, 490 F.3d 143, 157- 58 (2d Cir. 2007)). A court is generally limited to the pleadings and must construe “[a]ll factual allegations set forth in the complaint . . . ‘as true and . . . in the light most favorable'” to the plaintiff. Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 679 (9th Cir. 2001) (quoting Epstein v. Wash. Energy Co., 83 F.3d 1136, 1140 (9th Cir. 1996)). But a court need not blindly accept “conclusory [allegations], unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences.” Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         A. Plaintiff's Misclassification as Non-Exempt

         The crux of Plaintiff's complaint is whether EmCare misclassified Plaintiff, a nurse scheduler, as an exempt salaried employee when she allegedly should have been classified as non-exempt. (FAC ¶¶ 5, 7.) EmCare argues that Plaintiff fails to allege sufficient facts to support the conclusion that Emcare misclassified her. (MTD 6.) The Court disagrees. Under the California Labor Code, “overtime exemption is an affirmative defense that must be pled and proved by the employer.” Campbell v. PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, 642 F.3d 820, 825 (9th Cir. 2011) (citing Ramirez v. Yosemite Water Co., 20 Cal.4th 785 (1999)). A court cannot dismiss a complaint for failure to state sufficient facts going to an affirmative defense, because a plaintiff need not plead any facts relating to an affirmative defense. See Albino v. Baca, 747 F.3d 1162, 1169 (9th Cir. 2014); Scott v. Kuhlmann, 746 F.2d 1377, 1378 (9th Cir. 1984). Thus, EmCare's argument fails. However, notwithstanding this finding, the Court now turns to Plaintiff's overtime claim because “without facts supporting a reasonable inference that [Plaintiff] . . . actually worked overtime . . . [Plaintiff's] classification scheme is irrelevant.” Schneider v. Space Systems/Loral, Inc., 5:11-cv-02489-JF, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104414, at *8 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 15, 2011).

         B. Plaintiff's First Claim: Violations of Labor Code Sections 510, 1194, and 1198 for ...


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