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Delaney v. FTS International Services, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

January 20, 2017

BRANDON DELANEY, on behalf of himself and those similarly situated, Plaintiffs
v.
FTS INTERNATIONAL SERVICES, LLC, et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          YVETTE KANE, DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court in the above-captioned action is Defendant FTS International Services, LLC's (“FTS”), Motion to Dismiss or Strike Collective Action Allegations or Alternatively Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. (Doc. No. 12.) For the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion will be granted.

         I. FACTUAL[1] AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Brandon Delaney's First Amended Complaint is premised on allegations that Defendants FTS and J-W Wireline Company (“J-W Wireline”), and John Does 1-10 failed to pay him and similarly situated individuals proper overtime compensation in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 209 et seq., the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act (“PMWA”), 43 P.A. § 333.101 et seq., and the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law (“PWPCL”), 43 P.S. § 260.1, (collectively, “Pennsylvania wage laws”). (Doc. No. 7 ¶ 1.)

         On or about June 13, 2014, Defendant J-W Wireline hired Plaintiff as a Service Supervisor. (Id. ¶ 29.) In or around December 2014, Defendant FTS bought J.W. Wireline's business, and afterwards, Plaintiff continued working in the same position for FTS. (Id. ¶¶ 30-31.) Plaintiff asserts that, prior to January 24, 2016, he earned a salary of $96, 000 per year plus a weekly, non-discretionary “Wireline Bonus, ” and regularly worked at least 60 hours per week. (Id. ¶¶ 34-35.) Plaintiff alleges that his primary duties consisted of performing manual labor tasks, not office or non-manual work directly related to management or general business operations. (Id. ¶¶ 37-38.) He further maintains that he did not have the authority to hire or fire other employees, nor did he exercise discretion or independent judgment over matters of significance on behalf of Defendants. (Id. ¶¶ 36-37.) Plaintiff alleges that, at all relevant times, he was a non-exempt employee entitled to overtime compensation, and that prior to January 24, 2016, Defendants did not pay him additional compensation for hours worked beyond 40 hours in a workweek. (Id. ¶¶ 39-40.) Further, Plaintiff asserts that Defendants failed to implement a system to track the number of hours worked each week by Plaintiff and others similarly situated. (Id. ¶ 41.)

         Plaintiff alleges that, after January 24, 2016, Defendants classified Plaintiff as a non-exempt employee entitled to overtime wages. (Id. ¶ 52.) Plaintiff maintains that, after January 24, 2016, Defendants began paying Plaintiff an hourly rate of $26.50 per hour plus the weekly, nondiscretionary Wireline Bonus; however, Defendants paid Plaintiff an overtime premium of $13.25, which is one-half times his hourly rate of $26.50. (Id. ¶¶ 53-54.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendants failed to use a “weighted average, ” by applying the Wireline Bonuses earned by Plaintiff when determining his regular rate, upon which his overtime rate was based, resulting in a failure to pay Plaintiff a least one and one-half times his regular rate for all hours worked in excess of forty hours in a workweek. (Id. ¶¶ 55-56.)

         Plaintiff seeks to pursue this action collectively under the FLSA on behalf of himself and all others presently and formerly employed as hourly employees who work or worked for Defendants in positions entitled “Service Supervisor, ” “Pipe Recovery, ” “TCP Specialist, ” and in like non-exempt positions with similar duties for the three years prior to the filing of suit. (Id. ¶ 13.) Plaintiff alleges that there are numerous similarly situated current and former employees of Defendants who were compensated improperly for overtime work in violation of the FLSA. (Id. ¶ 15.) Plaintiff proposes that there exist two subclasses of collective plaintiffs: (1) misclassified collective plaintiffs, which includes individuals employed as Service Supervisors prior to January 24, 2016, who Plaintiff alleges were misclassified as exempt from the overtime requirements of the FLSA and were subject to Defendants' failure to pay overtime wages (Id. ¶ 16(a)); and (2) bonus collective plaintiffs, which includes individuals employed in positions titled Service Supervisor, Pipe Recovery, and TCP Specialist, who Plaintiff alleges are similarly situated because they were all subject to Defendants' failure to pay proper overtime wages of at least one and one half times the regular rate due to Defendants' failure to include Wireline Bonuses in their calculation of the regular rate (Id. ¶ 16(b)). Plaintiff further seeks to pursue a class action for violations of the Pennsylvania wage laws on behalf of similarly situated plaintiffs pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. (Id. ¶¶ 19-27.)

         Plaintiff filed his initial Individual, Collective, and Class Action Complaint in this matter on April 20, 2016. (Doc. No. 1.) On the same date that Defendant FTS filed its Motion to Dismiss or Strike Collective Action Allegations or Alternatively Motion for Partial Summary Judgment with respect to the collective-action claims in the complaint (Doc. No. 8), Plaintiff filed his First Amended Individual, Collective, and Class Action Complaint (Doc. No. 7).[2]Defendant FTS also filed an Answer to the original complaint on that same date.

         On June 20, 2016, Defendant FTS again filed its Motion to Dismiss or Strike Collective Action Allegations or Alternatively Motion for Partial Summary Judgment with respect to Plaintiff's collective action claims (Doc. No. 12), and a brief in support thereto (Doc. No. 13). Defendant FTS also filed an Answer to the First Amended Complaint on the same date. (Doc. No. 14.) After Defendants FTS's motion was fully briefed, the Court held a case management conference in this matter on September 14, 2016. After the conference, the Court issued an Order staying discovery as to Plaintiff's collective-action claims pending the Court's disposition of Defendant FTS's pending motion, but directing that discovery proceed on Plaintiff's individual claims. (Doc. No. 33.) Defendant J-W Wireline answered the First Amended Complaint on September 20, 2016. (Doc. No. 35.) Defendant FTS's motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A. Motion to Dismiss

         A motion filed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of a complaint's factual allegations. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” in order to “give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal quotation marks omitted) (interpreting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)). Generally, a court considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) must determine whether the complaint contains sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         Consistent with the Supreme Court's rulings in Twombly and Iqbal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit requires district courts to engage in a two-part analysis when reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion: (1) first, a court should separate the factual and legal elements of a claim, accepting well-pleaded factual matter and disregarding legal conclusions; (2) second, a court should determine whether the remaining well-pled facts sufficiently demonstrate that a plaintiff has a “plausible claim for relief.” Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679). Facial plausibility exists when the plaintiff pleads factual content “that allows the court to draw a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (internal citations omitted). “Where a complaint pleads facts that are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it ‘stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of ‘entitlement to relief.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557.)

         In conducting its analysis, a court must accept all well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint as true for purposes of determining whether the complaint states a plausible claim for relief, and must view the factual allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Philips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008). In this regard, a court may “consider only the allegations in the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, matters of public record, and documents that form the basis of a claim.” Lum v. Bank of America, 361 F.3d 217, 221 n. 3 (3d Cir. 2004).

         B. Motion to Strike

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f) provides that a court “may strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f). As a general rule, motions to strike are disfavored, and should be denied unless the challenged allegations have no possible relation or logical connection to the subject matter of the controversy and may cause some significant form of prejudice to one of the parties in the action. See Symbol Techs., Inc. v. Aruba Networks, Inc., 609 F.Supp.2d 353, 359 (D. Del. 2009).

         C. Motion for ...


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