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Montgomery v. Waitr Holdings, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

May 23, 2019

AUTUMN MONTGOMERY
v.
WAITR HOLDINGS INC.

         SECTION "L" (3)

          ORDER & REASONS

         Before the Court is Defendant's motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' state law claims and associated class action allegations. R. Doc. 17. Plaintiffs oppose. R. Doc. 19. For the reasons that follow, the motion is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This wage dispute arises out of Autumn Montgomery and Nateshus Jackson's work as delivery drivers for Waitr Holdings Inc., a technology company that operates a mobile food delivery app. Montgomery, who worked as an employee, alleges that Waitr failed to pay her the applicable minimum wage and failed to pay the correct amount of overtime, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). Jackson, who worked for Waitr as a “contract” delivery driver, alleges that Waitr misclassified him as an independent contractor, failed to pay him the applicable minimum wage, and failed to pay the correct amount of overtime. Montgomery and Jackson each seek to represent a nationwide collection of similarly situated drivers under §216(b) of the FLSA.

         Montgomery and Jackson also assert state law claims. They allege that Waitr's requirement that all delivery drivers “maintain at their own expense a licensed and insured automobile to make deliveries” and bear all costs associated with their vehicles unjustly enriched Waitr at their expense and gives rise to several violations of the Louisiana Wage Payment Act. (R. Doc. 3 at 8). Montgomery and Jackson bring these state law claims individually and, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, on behalf of a proposed class.

         II. PRESENT MOTION

         Waitr moves to dismiss Plaintiffs' state law claims and the associated class action allegations under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). It argues that (1) Plaintiffs cannot state a cognizable claim for unjust enrichment, violations of the Louisiana Wage Payment Act, or any other theory provided by Louisiana law, and (2) even if they could, the Court should decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over them in light of the fundamental incompatibility between Rule 23's class action procedure and the FLSA's collective action procedure.

         III. LAW AND ANALYSIS

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permit a defendant to seek a dismissal of a complaint based on the “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim “unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.” Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957).

         “To survive a motion to dismiss, a 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 Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “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. The district court must construe facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and must accept as true all factual allegations contained in the complaint. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A court “do[es] not accept as true conclusory allegations, unwarranted factual inferences, or legal conclusions.” Plotkin v. IP Axess Inc., 407 F.3d 690, 696 (5th Cir. 2005).

         i.

         The remedy of unjust enrichment is “only applicable to fill a gap in the law where no express remedy is provided” - it is not available “if the law provides another remedy.” Walters v. MedSouth Record Mgmt., LLC, 2010-0352 (La. 6/4/10), 38 So.3d 241, 242. Plaintiffs' claim that Waitr did not adequately compensate them given the costs associated with their vehicles is cognizable under the FLSA. Because the law provides another remedy, Plaintiffs cannot, as a matter of law, plead a plausible claim for unjust enrichment. See, e.g., Thomas v. Wallace, Rush, Schmidt, Inc., 2019 WL 1781412, at *4 (M.D. La. Apr. 22, 2019) (dismissing unjust enrichment claim because the FLSA provided plaintiff another remedy).

         ii.

         The Louisiana Wage Payment Act (“LWPA”) “is designed to compel prompt payment of earned wages upon an employee's discharge or resignation.” Davis v. St. Francisville Country Manor, L.L.C., 2013-0190 (La.App. 1 Cir. 11/1/13), 136 So.3d 20, 22. It requires an employer, upon termination or resignation of an employee, to “pay the amount due under the terms of employment” (La. R.S. 23:631(A)); forbids an employer from requiring an employee to forfeit her wages upon termination or resignation (La. R.S. 23:634); and prohibits an employer from “assess[ing] any fines against his employees or deduct[ing] any sum as fines from ...


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