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Taylor v. Warrior Energy Services, Corp.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

March 30, 2017

WAYLON TAYLOR, ET AL.
v.
WARRIOR ENERGY SERVICES, CORPORATION D/B/A SPC RENTALS

          HORNSBY MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          S. MAURICE HICKS, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court are two Rule 12(b)(6) Motions to Dismiss filed by Defendant Warrior Energy Services, Corporation d/b/a SPC Rentals (“SPC Rentals”). See Record Documents 9 & 15. The first motion (Record Document 9) is addressed to Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint (Record Document 3) and the second motion (Record Document 15) is addressed to Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint (Record Document 11). Plaintiffs have opposed both motions. See Record Documents 12 & 17. For the reasons set forth below, SPC Rentals' first Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss (Record Document 9) is DENIED AS MOOT and its second Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss (Record Document 15) is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs Michael Brand, Devin Cappleman, William Crow, Michael Hicks, Jeffery Huffman, Cephas Chad LaCroix, Elbert McKinney, James Tate, Waylon Taylor, Michael Touchstone, and Roger Woods filed the instant civil action in 2015 against SPC Rentals asserting claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (“FLSA”) and Louisiana law. See Record Document 11 at ¶¶ 1-2. SPC Rentals is in the business of performing labor and furnishing services and materials, machinery and supplies in connection with oil and gas drilling, completion and workover operations. See id. at ¶ 7. Under the name Superior Pressure Control, SPC Rentals also provides labor, services, and equipment for oil and gas well pressure control. See id. at ¶ 8. Plaintiffs were employed by SPC Rentals and assigned to the Minden, Louisiana location. See id. at ¶ 1.[1] Plaintiffs operated machinery, tools, and equipment - primarily well pressure control equipment used in connection with oil and gas drilling, well completion, and workover operations. See id. at ¶ 10. Plaintiffs were either pump operators or grease operators. See id. at ¶ 11.

         Plaintiffs were salaried. See id. at ¶ 21. In addition to salary, they were paid a day rate for each day worked at a well site. See id. Plaintiffs were assigned 12 hour-shifts, but allege that they actually worked for a longer period of time each shift. See id. at ¶ 15. Plaintiffs allege that “to perform their duties as required, [they] regularly worked 13 to 14 hours each shift and not infrequently worked 16, 18 and 24 hours when assigned to operate equipment and perform other labor at well site locations.” Id. at ¶ 19. Plaintiffs allege that SPC Rentals knew they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek at well site locations. See id. at ¶ 20. Plaintiffs allege that SPC Rentals “assigned [them] to work more than 40 hours in the workweek, ” yet they were not paid for overtime work. Id. at ¶ 23. Plaintiffs assert that SPC Rentals labeled them as “supervisors” to avoid paying overtime compensation. Id. at ¶ 25. Plaintiffs maintain they were not supervisors. See id. at ¶ 26.

         Based upon the above facts, Plaintiffs assert FLSA claims for failure to pay overtime. They also assert a “failure to pay wages timely” claim under La. R.S. 23:633. This Louisiana state law claim is based on SPC Rentals' “failure to make timely payment of [Plaintiffs'] salaries and day rates.” Id. at ¶¶ 37, 40-43.

         A group of Plaintiffs were subjected to “en masse” drug testing in July 2015. Id. at ¶¶ 44-45. These Plaintiffs “were corralled with approximately 40 of their co-workers in a room at the Minden, Louisiana office, where the Defendant had arranged for collection from the Plaintiffs[‘] hair, urine and breath samples . . . for substance abuse testing.” Id. at ¶ 45. “Some of the . . . Plaintiffs were ordered to report to collection sites elsewhere for the collection of the same type of samples.” Id. The drug testing was carried out under the direct supervision of SPC Rentals' Safety Director. See id. at ¶ 46. Plaintiffs allege that “as a direct result of the manner in which the Safety Director conducted the drug testing . . ., they were defamed and suffered invasions of privacy.” Id. at ¶ 50.

         Plaintiffs filed their First Amended Complaint on October 5, 2015. See Record Document 3. SPC Rentals filed the first Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss on November 10, 2015. See Record Document 9. Plaintiffs opposed the motion on November 24, 2015 and likewise filed a Second Amended Complaint on that same day. See Record Documents 11 & 12. In the Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs stated:

Plaintiffs incorporate herein by reference, as if set forth in full, the allegations of their Original and First Amended Complaint, except as modified herein below for claims asserted under La. R.S. 23:633. Plaintiffs amend their complaint to submit more definite statements of their claims.

Record Document 11. SPC Rentals objects to the Second Amended Complaint because it was filed without leave of court. See Record Document 15 & Record Document 20. In opposing the second Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss, Plaintiffs ask this Court to view the Second Amended Complaint as a proposed pleading in the event it should not have been accepted for filing. As leave to file amended complaints has been freely granted in related cases, [2] this Court hereby GRANTS leave of court for the Second Amended Complaint to be filed.

         This Court has reviewed the Second Amended Complaint and finds that the incorporation by reference clause is sufficient. The adoption contains sufficient specificity and clarity for this Court to determine the nature and extent of the incorporation. Thus, this Court will be guided by the Second Amended Complaint. Accordingly, the first Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss (Record Document 9), which addressed the First Amended Complaint, is DENIED AS MOOT. The Court will now proceed to its analysis of the Second Amended Complaint and the second Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss (Record Document 15).

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         I. Rule 12(b)(6) Standard.

         Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs the requirements for pleadings that state a claim for relief, requiring that a pleading contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” The standard for the adequacy of complaints under Rule 8(a)(2) changed from the old, more plaintiff-friendly “no set of facts” standard to a “plausibility” standard found in Bell Atlantic v. Twombly and its progeny. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007). Under this standard, “factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level ... on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-556, 127 S.Ct. at 1965. If a pleading only contains “labels and conclusions” and “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, ” the pleading does not meet the standards of Rule 8(a)(2). Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citation omitted).

         In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a court generally “may not go outside the pleadings.” Colle v. Brazos County, Texas, 981 F.2d 237, 243 (5th Cir. 1993). Courts must also accept all allegations in a complaint as true. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. However, courts do not have to accept legal conclusions as facts. See Id. Courts considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) are only obligated to allow those complaints that are facially plausible under the Iqbal and Twombly standard to survive such a motion. See id. at 678-679, 129 S.Ct. at 1949-1950. If the complaint does not meet this standard, it can be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See id. Such a dismissal ends the case “at the point of minimum expenditure of time and money by the parties and the court.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 558, 127 S.Ct. at 1966.

         II. FLSA Claims.

         In its first Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss, SPC Rentals argued that Plaintiffs failed to plead specific factual allegations, such as dates of employment, rates of pay, or hours of overtime worked in support of their FLSA claims. See Record Document 9-1 at 4-7. SPC Rentals also maintained in its first motion that Plaintiffs failed to allege sufficient facts to support willfulness. See Record Document 9-1 at 7-8. The Court's review of the Second Amended complaint reveals that these deficiencies have been cured. Plaintiffs allege dates of employment, salary plus day rate pay structure, hours of overtime work, and established workweek schedules. Plaintiffs also make factual allegations relating to willfulness, namely that SPC Rentals (1) knew that Plaintiffs worked more than 40 hours in a workweek at well site locations; (2) regularly assigned Plaintiffs to work shifts “8 overtime hours to more than 55 overtime hours in a workweek”; (3) intentionally misclassified Plaintiffs as supervisors to avoid paying overtime; and (4) was sued for similar overtime violations in other various jurisdictions. Record Document 11 at ¶¶ 20, 22, 25, 29 & 30. At this stage, these factual allegations must be accepted as true and raise a ...


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