United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
DEFENDANTS' MOTION [Doc. 11] TO DISMISS
M. James Lorenz United States District Judge
before the Court is Defendant Parexel International
Corporation LLC's (“Defendant”) motion to
dismiss portions of Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint. The
Court decides the matter on the papers submitted and without
oral argument. See Civ. L. R. 7.1(d.1). For the reasons
stated below, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART
in this action are former employees of Defendant. During
their employment, Plaintiffs were classified as exempt
salaried employees and worked in excess of eight hours a day
and forty hours a week. Plaintiffs contend that their
classification as exempt was improper. As a result of this
misclassification, Plaintiffs allege they were wrongfully
denied overtime pay, meal and rest periods, properly itemized
wage statements, and prompt payment of all wages upon
termination. Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Class Action
Complaint on February 15, 2017 alleging violations of the
Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C.
§ 201; California Labor Code Sections 201, 202, 203,
226, 226.7, 510, 512, and 1198; and California's Unfair
Competition Law (the “UCL”), Cal. Bus. &
Prof. Code §17200 et seq. (FAC [Doc. 8].) Defendant now
moves to dismiss portions of the FAC. (MTD [Doc. 11].)
Plaintiffs Oppose. (Opp'n [Doc. 12].)
court 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. See N. Star Int'l v.
Ariz. Corp. Comm'n., 720 F.2d 578, 581 (9th Cir.
1983). The court must assume the truth of all factual
allegations and “construe them in the light most
favorable to [the nonmoving party].” Gompper v.
VISX, Inc., 298 F.3d 893, 895 (9th Cir. 2002); see
also Walleri v. Fed. Home Loan Bank of Seattle, 83 F.2d
1575, 1580 (9th Cir. 1996).
Supreme Court explained, “[w]hile 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, 127
S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007) (internal citations and quotation
marks omitted). Instead, the allegation in the complaint
“must be enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” Id. at 1965. 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. Robertson v. Dean Witter Reynolds,
Inc., 749 F.2d 530, 534 (9th Cir. 1984).
motion seeks dismissal of Plaintiffs' prayer for punitive
damages on the grounds that none of the claims alleged in the
FAC can trigger a punitive damages award. The authority cited
by Defendant does clearly establish that, in the context of
statutory wage and hour claims under the FLSA and the
California Labor Code, punitive damages are not available.
Brewer v. Premier Golf Properties, 168 Cal.App.4th
1243, 1252 (2009) (punitive damages not available for
violations of California Labor Code provisions that govern
only where an employment contract exists); Dittmar v.
Costco Wholesale Corp., 2015 WL 7106636 at *5 (S.D. Cal.
2015) (same); Madrigal v. Tommy Bahama Grp., Inc.,
2010 WL 4384235 at *7-8 (C.D. Cal. 2010) (no punitive damages
available for FLSA violations). Tellingly, Plaintiffs do not
contest Defendant's arguments that punitive damages are
unavailable on the presently alleged claims. Rather,
Plaintiffs' opposition argues only that a Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6) motion is a procedurally improper method by which to
attack a prayer for relief. This argument is unpersuasive
because it flatly contradicts binding Ninth Circuit authority
cited in Defendant's original motion. Whittlestone,
Inc. v. Handi-Craft Co., 618 F.3d 970, 974 (9th Cir.
2014) (holding that a motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)6 or 56
is the proper pre-trial mechanism to attack a prayer for
relief contained in a complaint). Accordingly, the Court
GRANTS Defendant's motion as to the prayer for punitive
Cal. Labor Code §
226 and the UCL
seeks dismissal of Plaintiffs' UCL claim to the extent it
is predicated on Defendant's alleged failure to provide
properly itemized wage statements in violation of Cal. Labor
Code §226. The only remedies the UCL provides for
private plaintiffs are restitution and injunctive relief.
Pineda v. Bank of America, N.A., 50 Cal.App.4th
1389, 1401 (2010) (citing Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code
§ 17203). “The object of restitution is to restore
the status quo by returning to the plaintiff funds in which
he or she has an ownership interest.” Korea Supply
Co. v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 29 Cal.4th 1134, 1149
(2003). Thus, the California Supreme Court has held that
Labor Code penalties for failure to pay wages are recoverable
under the UCL because “[o]nce earned, … unpaid
wages [become] property to which … employees [are]
entitled.” Cortez v. Purolator Air Filtration
Products Co., 23 Cal.4th 163, 168 (2000). By contrast,
the California Supreme Court has held that Labor Code
penalties for the late payment of wages following termination
are not recoverable under the UCL because such penalties do
not serve to “restore the status quo by returning to
the plaintiff funds in which he or she has an ownership
interest.” Pineda, 50 Cal.4th at 1401.
Code penalties for failure to provide properly itemized wage
statements are much more similar to penalties for the late
payment of wages than they are to penalties for failure to
pay wages at all. To wit, as with penalties for late payment
of wages, a plaintiff has no vested interest in penalties for
failure to provide properly itemized wage statements unless
and until awarded by a relevant body. See Pineda, 50
Cal.4th at 1402 (an employee has no vested interested in
penalties for late payment of wages unless and until a
relevant body awards such penalties.) Because Plaintiffs
therefore have no vested ownership interest in penalties for
the late payment of wages, they cannot seek these penalties
said, the UCL also provides for injunctive relief.
Pineda, 50 Cal.App.4th at 1401 (citing Cal. Bus.
& Prof. Code § 17203). Further, Plaintiffs'
First Amended Complaint can be construed as including a
request for an injunction requiring Defendant to issue Labor
Code complaint wage statements. (FAC ¶ L.) Defendant
presents no argument as to why Plaintiffs could not feasibly
obtain such relief. Accordingly, the Court DENIES
Defendant's motion as to the inclusion of the wage
statement violation in Plaintiffs' sixth claim for
Attorneys' Fees ...