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Ratcliffe v. Apex Systems, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. California

November 13, 2019

BERNICE RATCLIFFE, individually and on behalf of other members of the general public similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
APEX SYSTEMS, LLC., a Virginia limited liability company; and DOES 1 through 100, inclusive, Defendants.

          ORDER

          HON. WILLIAM Q. HAYES UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

         The matter before the Court is Defendant Apex Systems, LCC's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. (ECF No. 7).

         BACKGROUND

         On August 5, 2019, Plaintiff commenced this action by filing a Complaint in the Superior Court of California for the County of San Diego, assigned case number 37-2019-00040686-CU-OE-CTL, against Defendant Apex Systems, LCC (Ex. A, ECF No. 1-2 at 2).

         On August 30, 2019, Defendant filed an Answer in the Superior Court of California for the County of San Diego. (Ex. B, ECF No. 1-3 at 2).

         On September 4, 2019, Defendant removed the action to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a), § 1332(c), § 1332(d), § 1441, § 1446, § 1453. (ECF No. 1). Defendant contends that this Court has original jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2) (the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005) and diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Id. at 1-2.

         On September 17, 2019, Defendant filed the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. (ECF No. 7). On October 7, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Response in Opposition. (ECF No. 11). On October 11, 2019, Defendants filed a Reply. (ECF No. 12).

         ALLEGATIONS OF THE COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant employed Plaintiff in California as an hourly-wage employee from May of 2017 to August of 2018. (Ex. A, ECF No. 1-2 at 8). Plaintiff alleges the following causes of action against Defendant: (1) failure to pay overtime wages; (2) failure to pay for work performed during meal periods; (3) failure to pay for work performed during rest periods; (4) failure to pay at least minimum wages for all hours worked; (5) failure to pay wages owed at the time of discharge or resignation; (6) failure to provide accurate itemized wage statements; and (7) failure to reimburse business expenses. Id. at 13-20. In addition, Plaintiff alleges an eighth claim for engaging in unlawful and unfair business practices. Id. at 21. Plaintiff seeks an Order certifying the Class; general and special damages; actual, consequential, and incidental damages; liquidated damages; punitive damages; civil penalties; statutory penalties; prejudgment interest; attorneys' fees; injunctive relief; and the appointment of a receiver to receive, manage, and distribute funds disgorged from Defendants. Id. at 22-26.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         A motion for judgment on the pleadings is governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c), which states, “[a]fter the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay trial-a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.” “Judgement on the pleadings is properly granted when, accepting all factual allegations in the complaint as true, there is no issue of material fact in dispute, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Chavez v. United States, 683 F.3d 1102, 1108 (9th Cir. 2012) (quotation omitted). “Analysis under Rule 12(c) is substantially identical to analysis under [Federal] Rule [of Civil Procedure] 12(b)(6) because, under both rules, a court must determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint, taken as true, entitle the plaintiff to a legal remedy.” Id. (quotation omitted). To sufficiently state a claim for relief and survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a complaint “does not need detailed factual allegations” but 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). “[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.” Id. When considering a motion to dismiss, a court must accept as true all “well-pleaded factual allegations.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). However, a court is not “required to accept as true allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences.” Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001).

         CONTENTIONS OF THE PARTIES

         Defendant contends that Plaintiff's conclusory allegations provide no substantive facts to show that Defendant's conduct allegedly led to unpaid overtime and unpaid minimum wages. (ECF No. 7-1 at 9). Defendant contends that Plaintiff fails to allege facts to support conclusory allegations regarding meal and rest period violations. Id. at 12. Defendant contends that Plaintiff fails to allege facts that would give rise to a plausible business expense reimbursement claim. Id. at 13. Defendant contends that Plaintiff's claims regarding wages owed at the time of discharge or resignation, accurate itemized wage statements, and unfair business practices fail to meet the plausibility pleading standard because each claim derives from other factually deficient allegations. Id. at 14. Defendant contends that Plaintiff's prayer for punitive damages fails as a matter of law because punitive damages are not recoverable for California Labor Code violations. Id. at 15.

         Plaintiff contends that the Complaint pleads sufficient facts to state claims for unpaid minimum wages and unpaid overtime. (ECF No. 11 at 7). Plaintiff contends that the Complaint adequately pleads claims for meal and rest period violations. Id. at 8. Plaintiff contends that the Complaint sufficiently pleads a cause of action for unreimbursed business expenses. Id. at 8-9. Plaintiff contends that the Complaint adequately pleads claims for wages owed at the time of discharge or resignation, inaccurate wage statements, and unfair competition. Id. at 9-10. Plaintiff requests leave to amend the Complaint should this Court be inclined to grant Defendant's Motion. Id. at 10.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Claims One and Four: Unpaid Overtime and Unpaid Minimum Wages

         California law requires that an employer pay overtime wages to non-exempt employees at a rate of one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for work in excess of eight hours in a day or forty hours in a week. Cal. Labor Code §§ 510, 1198. California law also requires that ...


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