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Jason Deron v. Sg Printing

May 25, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: (Judge Munley)


Before the court is Defendants Sye Gross and SG Printing, Inc.'s (collectively "defendants") motion brought pursuant to Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 5). Defendants move that the court should dismiss the complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim for which relief can be granted. Defendants argue in the alternative that if the complaint is not dismissed, then Plaintiff Jason Deron (hereinafter "plaintiff") must file a more definite statement pursuant to Rule 12(e). This matter is fully briefed and ripe for disposition.


The instant litigation arises from the dissolution of plaintiff's business relationship with his former employer, Defendant SG Printing, Inc. (hereinafter "SG Printing"), and its Chief Executive Officer, Defendant Sye Gross (hereinafter "Gross"). Specifically, plaintiff asserts, under several legal theories, that the defendants owe him approximately $400,000 in unpaid wages. The well-pleaded facts as described in the complaint are summarized as follows.

In August 2005, Plaintiff began working for SG Printing, which was "a graphic arts communication company that offered a full range of printing services for the financial marketplace as well as the general commercial book and magazine market." (Doc. 1, Compl. (hereinafter "Compl.") ¶¶ 6, 8). Plaintiff served as SG Printing's Vice President of Sales and he received compensation in the form of sales commissions. (Id. ¶¶ 8-9). Plaintiff alleges that he was paid weekly based upon the commissions he earned in the previous calendar year. (Id. ¶ 11). Plaintiff's compensation structure was determined on behalf of SG Printing by Gross, who held policy-making and check-writing authority in his capacity as SG Printing's CEO. (Id. ¶ 7, 11). Commissions plaintiff earned in excess of his compensation structure were paid out in the following calendar year. (Id. ¶ 11).

On May 25, 2011, defendants issued plaintiff a weekly payment for $5,323.00, and this check was returned to plaintiff by his bank for insufficient funds. (Id. ¶ 15; Doc. 1-2, Ex. A, Check #19312). Gross assured plaintiff that the next paycheck would have sufficient funds. (Compl. ¶ 16). On June 1, 2011, defendants issued plaintiff another weekly payment for $5,323.00, and this check was again rejected for insufficient funds. (Id. ¶ 17; Doc. 1-3, Ex. B, Check #19356). When confronted with this second dishonored check, Gross again promised that there would be sufficient funds for plaintiff's next paycheck. (Compl. ¶ 18). Despite this assurance, plaintiff's June 8 paycheck was similarly rejected for insufficient funds, and shortly after the June 8 paycheck was issued, Gross terminated SG Printing's business operations. (Id. ¶¶ 19-20; Doc. 1-4, Ex. C, Check # 19400).

Plaintiff alleges that during the course of his employment with SG Printing, he earned the following in commission fees: "(a) $103,566.90 for the 2005 calendar year; (b) $270,782.87 for the 2006 calendar year; (c) $451,834.68 for the 2007 calendar year; (d) $465,231.65 for the 2008 calendar year; (e) $395,208.66 for the 2009 calendar year; (f) $441,609.89 for the 2010 calendar year; and (g) $200,411.74 through June 2011." (Compl. ¶ 10). Plaintiff alleges that, as of June 2011, he was owed $394,246.39 in unpaid commission fees ($193,834.65 for the 2010 calendar year and $200,411.74 for the first six months of the 2011 calender year). (Id. ¶¶ 12-14, 21). Plaintiff also maintains that he is entitled to receive $10,003.00 in reimbursement for expenses under the terms of his employment agreement. (Id. ¶¶ 22-23). Thus, plaintiff claims a total of $404,249.39 in unpaid wages that defendants have allegedly refused to pay him. (Id. ¶¶ 24-26).

Plaintiff filed a complaint against defendants and initiated this action on October 18, 2011. In his complaint, plaintiff asserts that he is entitled to relief under the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law, 43 PA. CONS.

STAT. ANN. § 260, et seq., including sums for attorneys' fees, costs and liquidated damages. (Id. ¶¶ 27-29). Plaintiff also claims that he is entitled to his alleged unpaid wages under breach of contract and unjust enrichment theories of liability. (Id. ¶¶ 30-40).


The court has jurisdiction pursuant to the diversity statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Plaintiff is a citizen and resident of the state of New Jersey. (Compl. ¶

1). Defendant SG Printing, Inc. is a Pennsylvania corporation with a principal place of business in Waymart, Pennsylvania. (Id. ¶ 2). Defendant Sye Gross is a citizen and resident of the state of New York. (Id. ¶ 3). Because complete diversity of citizenship exists among the parties and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.00, the court has jurisdiction over the case. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Because we are sitting in diversity, the substantive law of Pennsylvania shall apply to the instant case. Chamberlain v. Giampapa, 210 F.3d 154, 158 (3d Cir. 2000) (citing Erie R.R. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 78 (1938)).

Standard of Review

When a 12(b)(6) motion is filed, the sufficiency of the allegations in the complaint are tested. All well-pleaded allegations of the complaint must be viewed as true and in the light most favorable to the non-movant to determine whether, "'under any reasonable reading of the pleadings, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief.'" Colburn v. Upper Darby Twp., 838 F.2d 663, 665-66 (3d Cir. 1988) (quoting Estate of Bailey by Oare v. Cnty. of York, 768 F.2d 503, 506 (3d Cir. 1985)). The plaintiff must describe "'enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of' [each] necessary element" of the claims alleged in the complaint. Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)). Moreover, the plaintiff must allege facts that "justify moving the case beyond the pleadings to the next stage of litigation." Id. at 234-35. In evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint the court may also consider "matters of public record, orders, exhibits attached to the complaint and items appearing in the record of the case." Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384 n.2 (3d Cir. 1994) (citations omitted). The court does not have to accept legal conclusions or unwarranted factual inferences. See Curay-Cramer v. Ursuline Acad. of Wilmington, Del., Inc., 450 F.3d 130, 133 (3d Cir. 2006) (citing Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997)).

The federal rules require only that plaintiff provide "'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,'" a standard which "does not require 'detailed factual allegations,'" but a plaintiff must make "'a showing, rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief' that rises 'above the speculative level.'" McTernan v. City of York, 564 F.3d 636, 646 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-56). 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 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Such "facial plausibility" exists "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). "[T]he factual detail in a complaint [cannot be] so undeveloped that it does not provide a defendant the type of notice of claim which is contemplated by Rule 8." Phillips, 515 F.3d at 232 (citation omitted). "Though a complaint 'does not need detailed factual allegations, . . . a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'" DelRio-Mocci v. Connolly Props., Inc., 672 F.3d 241, 245 (3d Cir. 2012) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

The Supreme Court has counseled that a court examining a motion to dismiss should, "begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Next, the court should make a context-specific inquiry into the "factual allegations in [the] ...

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