United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division
D. CAIN, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the court are three Motions to Dismiss filed under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) by, respectively, defendants
Cameron LNG, LLC ("Cameron LNG") [doc. 17], Chiyoda
International Corporation ("Chiyoda") [doc. 19],
and CB&I, LLC ("CB&I"), McDermott
International Inc. ("McDermott"), and Chiyoda [doc.
25], as well as a Supplemental Motion to Dismiss [doc. 69]
filed by CB&I, Chiyoda, and McDermott. Plaintiffs oppose
motions relate to a suit filed by plaintiffs Kendrick Bennett
and Courtlande Collins, on behalf of themselves and others
similarly situated, against the above-named defendants.
Plaintiffs assert that they work/worked for defendants at the
Cameron LNG Liquefaction Project in Hackberry, Louisiana, and
are required to ride on employer-provided buses between
designated parking lots and the job site. Doc. 15. They
claim;hat they are entitled to compensation for time spent on
this commute. Accordingly, they seek monetary and injunctive
relief under the Louisiana Wage Payment Act
("LWPA"), Louisiana Revised Statute § 23:631
et seq., and the minimum wage and overtime
provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act
("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. Id.
They also seek certification as a collective/class action
under the FLSA and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23.
Id; docs. 30, 62.
defendants now move for dismissal of the plaintiffs'
claims. Cameron LNG and Chiyoda argue that the claims against
them must be dismissed because they are not the
plaintiffs' employers. Doc. 17, art. 1; doc. 19, att. 1.
Chiyoda also argues that plaintiffs' FLSA minimum wage
claims are mathematically impossible and that plaintiff
Bennett's LWPA claim must be dismissed because he is
still employed. Doc. 19, att. 1. CB&I, McDermott, and
Chiyoda assert that plaintiffs' minimum wage claims are
mathematically impossible, that their FLSA claims are
implausible under the Portal-to-Portal Act, and that their
claims are insufficiently pled in that they improperly
"lump" defendants together. Doc. 25, att. 1; doc.
42. Finally, CB&I, Chiyoda, and McDermott assert that
plaintiffs' LWPA claims are preempted by the FLSA. Doc.
Motion to Dismiss Standards
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows for
dismissal of a claim when a plaintiff "fail[s] to state
a claim upon which relief can be granted." When
reviewing such a motion, the court should focus on the
complaint and its attachments. Wilson v. Birnberg,
661 F.3d 591, 595 (5th Cir. 2012). The court can also
consider matters of which it may take judicial notice,
including matters of public record. Hall v.
Hodgkins, 305 Fed.Appx. 224, 227 (5th Cir. 2008)
(unpublished) (citing Lovelace v. Software Spectrum
Inc., 78 F.3d 1015, 1017-18 (5th Cir. 1996) and
Norris v. Hearst Trust, 500 F.3d 454, 461 n. 9 (5th
motions are also reviewed with the court "accepting all
well-pleaded facts as true and viewing those facts in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff." Bustos v.
Martini Club, Inc., 599 F.3d 458, 461 (5th Cir.
2010). However, "the plaintiff must plead enough facts
'to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'" In re Katrina Canal Breaches
Litig, 495 F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir. 2007) (quoting
Bell Atl Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). Accordingly, the court's task is not to evaluate
the plaintiffs likelihood of success, but instead to
determine whether the claim is both legally cognizable and
plausible. Lone Star Fund V (U.S.), L.P. v. Barclays Bank
PLC, 594 F.3d 383, 387 (5th Cir. 2010).
the LWPA and the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the
FLSA obligate employers to pay certain wages owed to their
employees. La. Rev. Stat. § 23:631; 29 U.S.C.
§§ 206-07. Accordingly, a plaintiff must allege
that he was employed by the defendant during the relevant
time period in order to state a claim under either statute.
Johnson v. Heckmann Water Resources, Inc., 758 F.3d
627, 630 (5th Cir. 2014); Bergeron v. Ochsner Health
Sys., 2017 WL 3648451, at *3 (E.D. La. Aug. 24, 2017).
courts use a five-factor test to evaluate whether an
employer/employee relationship exists under the LWPA, with a
focus on the employer's right to exercise control over
the employee's performance. Mendoza v. Essential
Quality Constr., Inc., 691 F.Supp.2d 680, 686 (E.D. La.
2010). Meanwhile, the FLSA defines an employer as "any
person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an
employer in relation to an employee." 29 U.S.C. §
203(d). To this end the court uses an economic reality test,
balancing four factors. Gray v. Powers, 673 F.3d
352, 355 (5th Cir. 2012).
and Collins asset that they "worked for the Defendant(s)
at the Cameron LNG Liquefaction Project," with Bennett
working as a welding foreman from December 2016 until the
present and Collins working as a pipefitter from December
2016 until August 2018. Doc. 15, ¶¶ 14-15. Chiyoda
and Cameron LNG move for dismissal of all claims due to
plaintiffs' failure to plausibly plead enough facts to
establish an employment relationship with either defendant.
plaintiffs offer no allegations as to their employment status
or relation to the defendants other than to assert
defendants' role in the liquefaction project and label
them as employers. "Threadbare recitals of the elements
of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements" are insufficient even at the pleading stage.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). As
district courts have noted, however, "[t]he contention
that a particular defendant is an employer 'is the very
definition of a factual allegation upon which plaintiffs are
entitled to offer proof." Rodriguez v. Gold &
Silver Buyers, Inc., 2013 WL 5372529, at *3 (S.D. Tex.
Sep. 24, 2013) (quoting Moreno v. EDCare Mgmt.,
Inc., 243 F.R.D. 258, 260 (W.D. Tex. 2007)); see,
e.g., Mejia v. Bros. Petrol, LLC, 2015 WL 3619894, at
*3-*4 (E.D. La. Jun. 9, 2015) (cursory allegation of employer
status sufficient under FLSA claim); Bodnar v. Newport
Corp. of La., 2011 WL 4575122, at *4-*5 (ED. La. Sep.
29, 2011) (same, under the LWPA). Accordingly,
plaintiffs' allegations; of employment status suffice to
support their FLSA and LWPA claims.
State Law Claims