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Brunet v. Senior Home Care, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

February 5, 2015

BRUNET ET AL.,
v.
SENIOR HOME CARE, INC. ET AL., Section:

ORDER & REASONS

CARL J. BARBIER, District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendants Senior Home Care, Inc., Synergy, Inc., and Lynne Hebert's Partial Motion to Dismiss (Rec. Doc. 15) and an opposition thereto filed by Plaintiffs Jayme Brunet, Sonya Kay Robinette, Patricia Wall, Geraldine Ward, and Kassandra Williams. (Rec. Doc. 28) Having considered the motions and memoranda, the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds that the Defendants' motion should be GRANTED for the reasons set forth more fully below.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

This litigation derives from Plaintiffs' claims for unpaid overtime compensation. (Rec. Doc. 1) Plaintiffs are Registered Nurses who allege that they were Defendants' employees. Id. at 2-5. Plaintiffs further allege that, "[d]ue to the manner in which [they] were paid and the nature of their duties, they are not exempt employees [with the meaning of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., ] and are entitled to overtime pay for all hours worked over forty (40) hours in any work week." Id. at 8. Yet, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants failed to pay them overtime compensation as required under the FLSA. Id.

Plaintiffs opted into an FLSA collective action in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, Beckworth v. Senior Home Care, Inc., et al., No. 12-351. Id. at 2. The plaintiffs in Beckworth made the same claims that Plaintiffs advance herein. (Rec. Doc. 15-1, pp. 1-2) On September 5, 2014, the court granted defendants' motion to decertify the collective action and dismissed without prejudice the opt-in class' claims. Id. at 2; (Rec. Doc. 1, p. 2). In doing so, the court tolled the statute of limitations for a period of sixty days from the date of the order. (Rec. Doc. 1, p. 2; Rec. Doc. 15-1, p. 2)

Plaintiffs then filed the instant action on November 3, 2015. (Rec. Doc. 1; Rec. Doc. 15-1, p. 2) Plaintiffs seek judgment enjoining Defendants from the complained-of conduct, a declaration that Defendants willfully violated the FLSA, compensation for unpaid overtime work, liquidated damages in an amount equal to their unpaid overtime as provided under the FLSA, attorneys' fees and costs, and pre- and post-judgment interest. (Rec. Doc. 1)

On December 23, 2014, Defendants filed the instant Partial Motion to Dismiss. (Rec. Doc. 15) After receiving an extension, Plaintiffs opposed the motion on January 20, 2015. (Rec. Docs. 20, 28)

LEGAL STANDARD

Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2). The complaint must "give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Dura Pharm., Inc. v. Broudo, 544 U.S. 336, 346 (2005). The allegations "must be simple, concise, and direct." FED. R. CIV. P. 8(d)(1).

To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must plead enough facts to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 547 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible when the plaintiff pleads facts that allow the court to "draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id . A court must accept all well-pleaded facts as true and must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Lormand v. U.S. Unwired, Inc., 565 F.3d 228, 232-33 (5th Cir. 2009); Baker v. Putnal, 75 F.3d 190, 196 (5th Cir. 1996). The court is not, however, bound to accept as true legal conclusions couched as factual allegations. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

PARTIES' ARGUMENTS AND DISCUSSION

In their Partial Motion to Dismiss, Defendants argue that this Court should dismiss the claims of Robinette, Brunet, and Wall. Defendants argue that Robinette's claim is time-barred. They further argue that the doctrine of judicial estoppel precludes the claims of Brunet and Wall. The Court will address each of these arguments in turn.

A. Whether Robinette's FLSA Claim Is Time-Barred

Defendants argue that Plaintiff Robinette's FLSA claim for unpaid overtime work is time-barred and must be dismissed. (Rec. Doc. 15-1, pp. 2-5) Plaintiff Robinette alleges that her last day of work for Defendants was December 27, 2009, and she filed her opt-in consent form on January 30, 2013. Id. at 4. Generally, the FLSA provides a two-year statute of limitations. Id. at 3 (citing 29 U.S.C. § 255(a)). However, where a defendant's violation is willful, the statute of limitations extends to three years. Id . (citing 29 U.S.C. § 255(a); McLaughlin v. Richland Shoe Co., 486 U.S. 128, 133 (1988)). An FLSA claim for unpaid overtime accrues "when the employer fails to pay the required compensation." Id. at 4 (citing Halferty v. Pulse Drug Co., 821 F.2d 261, 270-71 (5th Cir. 1987)). And in an FLSA collective action, the claim of an opt-in plaintiff is considered commenced when she files a written consent to become a party plaintiff with the court. Id . (citing 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), 256(a); 29 C.F.R. § 790.21(b)(2); Lima v. Int'l Catastrophe Solutions, Inc., 493 F.Supp.2d 793, 803 (E.D. La. 2007)). Thus, even assuming for the purposes of this motion that the three-year statute of ...


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