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Bonds v. Gms Mine Repair & Maintenance, Inc.

United States District Court, Third Circuit

January 8, 2014

JOSEPH A. BONDS, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
GMS MINE REPAIR & MAINTENANCE, INC., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF COURT

TERRENCE F. McVERRY, District Judge.

Pending before the Court is a MOTION TO DISMISS AND FOR A MORE DEFINITE STATEMENT (ECF No. 20) filed by Defendant GMS Mine Repair & Maintenance, Inc. ("GMS") with brief in support (ECF No. 21). Plaintiff Joseph A. Bonds, individually and on behalf of all other similarly situated, filed a response in opposition (ECF No. 22). Accordingly, the issues are ripe for disposition.

I. Background

The following background is drawn from the Amended Complaint, and the factual allegations therein are accepted as true for purposes of this Memorandum Opinion. As the law requires, all disputed facts and inferences are resolved in favor of Plaintiff, the non-moving party.

GMS is a private company which services underground and surface mines by providing maintenance and contracting throughout the United States. GMS employs numerous people, including Bonds, to provide these services at the Enlow Fork Mine ("Enlow") in East Finley, Pennsylvania, owned and operated by Consol Energy, Inc.[1]

The gravamen of the Amended Complaint is that GMS requires its Enlow employees to work before and/or after their shift without pay in violation of state and federal wage and hour laws. More specifically, Bonds avers that GMS requires its employees (1) to arrive at least fifteen or thirty minutes prior to their scheduled shift start to be transported from a remote on-site parking location to the mine's entry point at the Pleasant Grove Portal; (2) to wait at least ten to twenty-five minutes prior to commencing work at the start of each shift; (3) to wait between ten to twenty minutes at the end of each shift for transportation from the entry point back to the parking site; (4) to attend mandatory safety meetings; and (5) to submit to drug/alcohol testing- all of which are allegedly "integral and indispensable to the principal activity of providing underground maintenance and contracting." Pl.'s Am. Compl., ECF No. 17 at 2.

Plaintiff first initiated this case at Civil Action No. 13-1217 on August 23, 2012, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, by filing a two-count Complaint in which he alleges that GMS violated the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Act, and the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act. On October 11, 2013, Plaintiff filed another Complaint against GMS at Civil Action No. 13-1480 in which he avers that it violated the anti-retaliation provision of the FLSA when it changed his shift just days after his counsel "effectuated service" of the collective action Complaint so that he could no longer care for his adolescent son, resulting in a "constructive discharge" from his employment.

On October 15, 2013, GMS filed a MOTION FOR DATE CERTAIN FOR FILING OF A MOTION IN RESPONSE TO THE COMPLAINT at Civil Action No. 13-1217 in which it noted its intention to file a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rules 12(b)(4) and 12(b)(6) and a motion for a more definite statement pursuant to Rule 12(e). GMS argued that service of process of the collective action Complaint by mail was not properly effectuated, and therefore, the time for a response had not yet begun to run. Accordingly, GMS requested that the Court enter an Order setting forth a briefing scheduling for its anticipated challenges to the sufficiency of the service of process and to the adequacy of the pleading.

By Memorandum Order dated October 16, 2013, the Court granted the motion filed by GMS and sua sponte consolidated the two actions. The Court directed GMS to file all Rule 12 motion(s) on or before November 6, 2013. Defendant filed a "Waiver of the Service of Summons" within an hour after the Court entered its Memorandum Order, an Answer on October 18, 2013 and a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim/a Rule 12(e) Motion for a More Definite Statement on November 6, 2013. In response, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on November 11, 2013, which GMS once again challenges pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) and Rule 12(e).

II. Standard of Review

A. Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss[2]

A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the legal sufficiency of a complaint, which may be dismissed for the "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) Upon review of a motion to dismiss, the Court must accept all well-pleaded facts and allegations, and must draw all reasonable inferences therefrom in favor of the plaintiff. Burtch v. Milberg Factors, Inc., 662 F.3d 212, 220 (3d Cir. 2011) (citing In re Ins. Brokerage Antitrust Litig., 618 F.3d 300, 314 (3d Cir. 2010)). However, as the Supreme Court made clear in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, such "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." 550 U.S. 554, 555 (2007).

The Court later refined this approach in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, emphasizing the requirement that a complaint must state a plausible claim for relief in order to survive a motion to dismiss. 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). "A claim has facial plausibility 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 555). Nevertheless, "the plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, '" but requires a plaintiff to show "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). This determination will be "a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.'" Id. at 211 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).

Nothing in Twombly or Iqbal changed the other pleading standards for a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) and the requirements of Rule 8 must still be met. See Phillips v. Co. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008) (internal citations omitted). The Supreme Court did not abolish the Rule 12(b)(6) requirement that "the facts must be taken as true and a complaint may not be dismissed merely because it appears unlikely that the plaintiff can prove those facts or will ultimately prevail on those merits." Phillips, 515 F.3d at 231 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 553). Rule 8 also still requires that a pleading contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677-78 (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). While this standard "does not require detailed factual allegations, ' [ ] it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation" and a "pleading that offers labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of ...


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