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Kattu v. Metro Petroleum, Inc.

United States District Court, Second Circuit

August 6, 2013

ANAND KATTU, PATRICIA KING, MEGHAN MIAN, and ROMESH PATEL individually and on behalf of all others similarly-situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
METRO PETROLEUM, INC., Defendant.

DECISION AND ORDER

RICHARD J. ARCARA, District Judge.

This action seeks unpaid overtime wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., and New York Labor Law § 650 et seq., and is within the Court's federal-question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Plaintiffs Anand Kattu, Patricia King, Meghan Mian, and Romesh Patel are former employees of defendant Metro Petroleum, Inc., an operator of convenience stores, who allege that they, and others who are similarly situated, are entitled to unpaid overtime wages, liquidated damages, interest, attorney fees, and declaratory relief.

Defendant Metro Petroleum has moved to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on the ground that the bulk of plaintiffs' federal-law claims are barred by the statute of limitations, and that the Court should not exercise supplemental jurisdiction over any remaining state-law claims. Despite the strict pleading standards of Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), plaintiffs are not required to plead facts in a complaint to rebut a potential statute of limitations defense, an affirmative defense that is waived by a defendant if it is not alleged in an answer. See DeJesus v. HF Management Services, LLC, Dkt. No. 12-4565, slip op. at 18 n.7 (2d Cir. Aug. 5, 2013); Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(c)(1); Litton Indus., Inc., v. Lehman Bros. Kuhn Koed Inc., 967 F.2d 742, 751-52 (2d Cir. 1992). Although plaintiffs' federal claims may later be shown to be barred by a statute of limitations in whole or in part, defendant's motion pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted is denied.

DISCUSSION

The Rule 12(b)(6) Standard. When deciding a motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, "a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). "While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations." Id. at 679. When evaluating the factual allegations of a complaint, a court is required to draw "all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff." Pension Ben. Guar. Corp. ex rel. St. Vincent Catholic Med. Centers Ret. Plan v. Morgan Stanley Inv. Mgmt. Inc., 712 F.3d 705, 730 (2d Cir. 2013).

In order "[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible of its face." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quotation omitted). "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." Id. "[O]nly a complaint that states a plausible claim to relief survives a motion to dismiss." Id. at 679.

To determine "whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief... [is] a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. A complaint must allege "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. at 678.

Elements of an FLSA Overtime-Wage Claim. The Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") provides that

no employer shall employ any of his employees... for a workweek longer than forty hours unless such employee receives compensation for his employment in excess of the hours above specified at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate at which he is employed.

29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1). An FLSA collective action overtime-wage claim has four elements: First, there must be "an employee-employer relationship" between plaintiff and defendant. Zhong v. August August Corp., 498 F.Supp.2d 625, 628 (S.D.N.Y. 2007); 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1). Second, the FLSA applies only to "employees whose work involved some kind of interstate activity." Zhong, 498 F.Supp.2d at 628. Third, the complaint must allege the number of hours worked and the amount of unpaid wages. Zhong, 498 F.Supp.2d at 628; see also DeJesus v. HF Management Services, LLC, Dkt. No. 12-4565, slip op. (2d Cir. Aug. 5, 2013). Fourth, if a plaintiff brings a collective action on behalf of others who are similarly situated, "the complaint should indicate who those other employees are, and allege facts that would entitle them to relief." Id.; 29 U.S.C. § 216(b); see also Peck v. Hillside Children's Center, 915 F.Supp.2d 435, 437 (W.D.N.Y. 2013) ( citing Zhong, with a two-elements formulation of a valid FLSA overtime-wage claim).

Facts. Accepting the factual allegations of plaintiffs Kattu, King, Mian, and Patel in the complaint as true, Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, defendant Metro Petroleum is a corporation organized and incorporated under the laws of New York State which operates several convenience stores across New York State, including one in Buffalo, New York, that sell gasoline, lottery tickets, groceries, and cash checks.

Plaintiffs Kattu, King, Mian, and Patel were all previously employed by defendant Metro Petroleum and worked at the store in Buffalo, New York. Throughout their employment with defendant, plaintiffs worked different hours, at different hourly wages, and for different periods of time. However, all plaintiffs routinely worked in excess of forty hours per workweek and never received overtime wages from defendant for all the overtime hours they worked.

Based on the wages of each plaintiff, and the number of overtime hours each worked, each plaintiff was underpaid by a different amount. Plaintiff Kattu was underpaid by approximately $78, 962 annually over the approximate ten-year period of his employment. Plaintiff King was underpaid by approximately $4, 000 during her eight-month period of employment by defendant. Plaintiff Mian was underpaid by approximately $14, 000 during her period of employment by defendant. Plaintiff Patel, who worked 12- to 14-hour days, six days a week, was underpaid by at least $11, 000, and by as much as $15, 000, during his employment with defendant.

Plaintiffs Kattu, King, Mian, and Patel commenced this action by filing their complaint on January 20, 2012. Dkt. No. 1.[1] Although plaintiffs' total monetary claims for compensation, liquidated damages, and interest are not specifically set forth in the ...


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