United States District Court, S.D. California
WILLIAM STEVE VALENCIA, an individual, and LUIS FERNANDEZ SOTO, an individual, on behalf of themselves and on behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
NORTH STAR GAS LTD. CO., a California corporation; PEOPLEASE LLC, a South Carolina Corporation, Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT PEOPLEASE'S MOTION TO
DISMISS AND GRANTING PLAINTIFFS LEAVE TO AMEND WITHIN 14 DAYS
OF ENTRY OF THIS ORDER [ECF No. 7.]
GONZALO P. CURIEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendant Peoplease, LLC's
“Peoplease's”) motion to dismiss Plaintiffs
William Steve Valencia and Luis Fernandez Soto's
(collectively, “Plaintiffs'”) Complaint
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and, in
the alternative, a motion for a more definite statement
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e). (Dkt. No.
7.) The motion has been fully briefed. (Dkt. Nos. 10, 13.)
The Court deems Defendant's motion suitable for
disposition without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local
Rule 7.1(d)(1). Having reviewed the moving papers and
applicable law, and for the reasons set forth below, the
Court GRANTS Defendant's motion to dismiss.
February 8, 2017, Plaintiffs William Steve Valencia
(“Valencia” or “Plaintiff”) and Luis
Fernandez Soto (“Soto” or
“Plaintiff”) filed a putative hybrid class action
in federal court against Defendants North Star Gas Ltd. Co.
(“North Star” or “Defendant”) and
Peoplease LLC (“Peoplease” or
“Defendant”). (Dkt. No. 1, Compl.) Plaintiffs
bring a putative collective action for violation of the Fair
Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §
201, et seq., and a putative class action under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 (“Rule 23”)
for violations of California state law. (Id. ¶
allege that North Star “owns, operates, or otherwise
manages a natural gas company responsible for distribution
and supply of propane.” (Id. ¶ 13.)
Plaintiffs allege that Peoplease “is Plaintiffs'
co-employer responsible for paying wages, payroll, and
employment law compliance, ” and that Peoplease
“works with North Star to administer human resource
services.” (Id. ¶ 14.) Plaintiffs allege
that “Defendants employ Plaintiffs and others to
transport propane by driving various routes to and from
Defendants' propane supply. These routes run throughout
California, among other States.” (Id. ¶
2.) Plaintiffs bring the instant action on behalf of
themselves and on behalf of “current and former
non-exempt employees who transported propane along certain
routes for Defendants.” (Id. ¶ 3.)
Plaintiffs' core contention is that although
“employees often work well in excess of 8 hours per day
and 40 hours per week, ” due to the length of time
necessary to transport propane along certain routes,
Defendants fail to pay Plaintiffs any overtime compensation.
(Id. ¶ 3.) Plaintiffs also allege that
Defendants do not adequately compensate drivers for
non-productive time and do not provide adequate wage
statements. (Id. ¶¶ 18-22.)
assert eight claims for relief based on Defendants' (1)
failure to pay wages due under the FLSA, (2) failure to pay
overtime due under state law, (3) failure to pay regular
wages under state law, (4) failure to pay meal period premium
pay under state law, (5) failure to pay rest break premium
pay under state law, (6) failure to provide accurate itemized
wage statements under state law, (7) failure to timely pay
wages under state law, and (8) violation of the UCL.
Plaintiffs do not specify under which state laws their second
through fifth claims are brought.
filed the instant motion on March 21, 2017 under Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and 12(e). (Dkt. No. 7.)
Peoplease asserts that it is not in an employment
relationship with Plaintiffs and thus cannot be held liable
for violations of the Labor Code or the FLSA. (Id.
at 7.) Peoplease further asserts that Plaintiffs'
Complaint is impermissibly vague for failure to specify the
relevant statutes under which certain state law claims are
brought, and for failure to specify which Defendant each
cause of action is pled against. (Id. at 8.) In the
alternative, Peoplease requests that the Court order
Plaintiffs to make a more definite statement regarding their
allegations against Peoplease. (Id.) Plaintiffs
responded on April 14, 2017, (Dkt. No. 10), and Peoplease
replied on April 28, 2017, (Dkt. No. 13).
motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of a complaint. Navarro v.
Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). Dismissal is
warranted under Rule 12 (b)(6) where the complaint lacks a
cognizable legal theory. Robertson v. Dean Witter
Reynolds, Inc., 749 F.2d 530, 534 (9th Cir. 1984);
see also Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 326
(1989) (“Rule 12(b)(6) authorizes a court to dismiss a
claim on the basis of a dispositive issue of law.”).
Alternatively, a complaint may be dismissed where it presents
a cognizable legal theory yet fails to plead essential facts
under that theory. Robertson, 749 F.2d at 534. While
a plaintiff need not give “detailed factual
allegations, ” a plaintiff must plead sufficient facts
that, if true, “raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 545 (2007). “To survive a
motion to dismiss, 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, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 547). A claim is facially
plausible when the factual allegations permit “the
court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. In
other words, “the non-conclusory ‘factual
content, ' and reasonable inferences from that content,
must be plausibly suggestive of a claim entitling the
plaintiff to relief.” Moss v. U.S. Secret
Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009).
“Determining whether a complaint states a plausible
claim for relief will . . . be a context-specific task that
requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial
experience and common sense.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
reviewing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court
must assume the truth of all factual allegations and must
construe all inferences from them in the light most favorable
to the nonmoving party. Thompson v. Davis, 295 F.3d
890, 895 (9th Cir. 2002); Cahill v. Liberty Mut. Ins.
Co., 80 F.3d 336, 337-38 (9th Cir. 1996). Legal
conclusions, however, need not be taken as true merely
because they are cast in the form of factual allegations.
Ileto v. Glock, Inc., 349 F.3d 1191, 1200 (9th Cir.
2003); W. Mining Council v. Watt, 643 F.2d 618, 624
(9th Cir. 1981). When ruling on a motion to dismiss, the
court may consider the facts alleged in the complaint,
documents attached to the complaint, documents relied upon
but not attached to the complaint when authenticity is not
contested, and matters of which the court takes judicial
notice. Lee v. Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 688-89
(9th Cir. 2001).
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e) provides:
A party may move for a more definite statement of a pleading
to which a responsive pleading is allowed but which is so
vague or ambiguous that the party cannot reasonably prepare a
response. The motion must be made before filing a responsive
pleading and must point out the defects complained of and the
details desired. If the court orders a more definite
statement and the order is not obeyed within 14 days after
notice of the order or within the time the court sets, the
court may strike the pleading or issue any other appropriate
Fed. R. Civ. P. ...