United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
Larry E. Robinson, Jr., Plaintiff,
R&L Carriers Payroll, LLC, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
H. Miller United States District Judge.
before the court is a motion for judgment on the pleadings
filed by defendants R&L Carriers Shared Services, LLC,
R&L Carriers Payroll, LLC, and R&L Carriers, Inc.
(collectively, "Defendants"). Dkt. 32. Having
considered the amended complaint, the instant motion, and the
applicable law, the court is of the opinion that the motion
should be DENIED.
Larry E. Robinson brought a collective action against
Defendants on June 9, 2017, alleging violations of the Fair
Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") for unpaid overtime
wages. Dkt. 23 at 1. According to Robinson,
Defendants employed him and others similarly situated as
forklift operators. Id. at 3. During the three-year
period preceding this lawsuit, Robinson and other forklift
operators, referred to as "breakers, " regularly
worked more than forty hours a week unloading trucks in
Defendants' Houston warehouse. Id. Robinson and
the other members of the class were not paid one and one-half
times their regular hourly rate for the time worked in excess
of forty hours per week. Id. Instead, Robinson and
the other breakers were paid their regular rate, or
"straight time, " for all hours worked, including
overtime. Id. at 5. Robinson contends that
Defendants' failure to pay overtime compensation to him
and others similarly situated arises from a generally
applicable policy independent of the personal circumstances
of the class members. Id. at 4-5.
instant motion, Defendants move for judgment on the pleadings
as to Robinson's collective action claim under Rule 12(c)
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, arguing that the
amended complaint does not satisfy Robinson's burden to
provide Defendants with fair and adequate notice of the
purported class. Id. at 5.
12(c) allows a party to "move for judgment on the
pleadings." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). The same standards
govern Rule 12(c) and Rule 12(b)(6) motions. See
Chauvin, 495 F.3d at 237.
survive a motion to dismiss or a motion for judgment on the
pleadings, a 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 Ad. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007)). While the allegations
need not be overly detailed, a plaintiffs pleading must still
provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief, which
"requires more than labels and conclusions, " and
"a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action will not do." Id.; see also Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009).
"[C]onclusory allegations or legal conclusions
masquerading as factual conclusions will not suffice to
prevent a motion to dismiss." Blackburn v. City of
Marshall, 42 F.3d 925, 931 (5th Cir. 1995). Instead,
"[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." Iqbal, 556 U.S. At 678.
"[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not
require 'detailed factual allegations, ' but it
demands more than an unadorned,
Id. at 677.
move for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that the
complaint is insufficient to state a collective action claim
and fails to provide Defendants with fair notice of the
purported class. Dkt. 32 at 1. Specifically, Defendants
contend that Robinson fails to allege any facts that
establish "(1) which of the three Defendants employed
the alleged collective members; (2) which of the members of
the class were misclassified; (3) the frequency with which
the collective members worked in excess of 40 hours per work
week; (4) how long the alleged collective members worked in
excess of 40 hours per work week; (5) anyone else who might
belong in the collective action; or (6) that Defendants
employed non-exempt loaders who were incorrectly paid prior,
during, o[r] after [Robinson's] employment."
courts in this district, including this court, have
previously held that sufficiency challenges to FLSA
collective actions are premature at the pleading stage.
See Howard v. John Moore, IP, No. H-13-1672, 2014
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42795, at *8 (S.D. Tex. Mar. 31, 2014)
(Miller, J.) ("Defendants' challenge to the
collective action is premature and not proper for a Rule
12(b)(6) motion."); Murphy v. Multi-Shot, LLC,
No. 4:14-CV-1464, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126794, it
*5 (S.D. Tex. Sep. 10, 2014) (Ellison, J.) ("Courts in
this district have routinely held that FLSA plaintiffs
'need not plead facts to support the propriety of a
collective action to survive a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion.'") (quoting Hoffman v. Cemex, Inc.,
No. H-09-3144, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114130, at *12 (S.D.
Tex. Dec. 8, 2009) (Rosenthal, J.)). "Whether proceeding
collectively is appropriate will be addressed when the
plaintiffs move for conditional certification and issuance of
notice to the class." Hoffman, 2009 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 114130, at *12.
the instant motion is a motion for judgment on the pleadings
and not a motion to dismiss, this is a distinction without a
difference. This case is still at the pleading stage, ! and
Defendants' attempt to skirt the certification process by
asking the court to make a decision based on the face of the
complaint is not supported by any controlling authority.
actions are conditionally certified pursuant to a motion, the
analysis of which occurs apart from the motion to dismiss
phase. See Mooney v. Aramco Servs. Co., 54 F.3d
1207, 1213-14 (5th Cir. 1995) (describing the
Lusardi two-stage certification process available in
FLSA cases). If Robinson's certification is successful,
Defendants may later move for decertification, "at which
point the appropriateness of class certification will be
subjected to a more searching inquiry."
Hoffman, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114130, at *12-13.
the propriety of a collective action is not a proper inquiry
at this time! and should wait until ...