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Juarez v. 449 Restaurant, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

July 2, 2014

VINCENTE JUAREZ, Plaintiff,
v.
449 RESTAURANT, INC., et al., Defendants

Page 364

For Vincente Juarez, On behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff: Brian Scott Schaffer, Eric Joshua Gitig, Joseph A. Fitapelli, Fitapelli & Schaffer, LLP, New York, NY.

For 449 Restaurant, Inc., doing business as Moonstruck Diners, 88 2nd Ave. Food Corp, doing business as Moonstruck Diners, Pirgos Food Corp, doing business as Moonstruck Diners, John Kapetanos, Defendants: Arthur Harvey Forman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Arthur H. Forman, Esq., Forest Hills, NY.

Page 365

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

ALISON J. NATHAN, United States District Judge.

In this action, Plaintiff Vincente Juarez brings various claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act (" FLSA" ), 29 U.S.C. § § 201-219, and New York law against Defendants 449 Restaurant, Inc. (" 449 Restaurant" ), 88 2nd Ave. Food Corp. (" Second Avenue" ), Pirgos Food Corp. (" Pirgos" ), and John Kapetanos. Currently before the Court are (1) Plaintiff's motion for an order granting conditional class certification, court-authorized notice, and expedited discovery pursuant to the FLSA, and (2) Defendants' cross-motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). Dkt Nos. 13, 22. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's motion is granted and Defendants' motion is denied.

I. Background[1]

According to Plaintiff, Defendants operate a Manhattan restaurant chain known as the Moonstruck Diners. The chain's four locations are owned and operated by distinct legal entities, three of which are Defendants here: 449 Restaurant's diner is located at 449 Third Avenue, Second Avenue's diner is located at 88 Second Avenue, and Pirgos's diner is located at 244 Madison Avenue. Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 24, 32, 39. The fourth Moonstruck Diner is located at 250 East 58th Street. E.g., Pl. Ex. C. Plaintiff claims that Kapetanos, through the corporate entities associated with each Moonstruck Diner, operates the chain of restaurants " as a single integrated enterprise." Pl. Br. at 2.

Plaintiff worked as a cook at three of the Moonstruck Diners from " approximately 2007 to July 23, 2013." Pl. Decl. ¶ 2. He worked primarily at 449 Restaurant's diner on Third Avenue, but he states that he was sometimes directed by Kapetanos or other managers to work shifts at the Second

Page 366

Avenue diner and the Pirgos diner. Id. ¶ 12.

Plaintiff initiated this action on October 2, 2013, and after Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, Plaintiff amended his complaint on November 22, 2013. Dkt. No. 12. In his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that during his time at the Moonstruck Diners, he was paid a flat weekly salary that neither adequately compensated him for his overtime hours, as required by the FLSA and the New York Labor Law (Counts I and II), see 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1); N.Y. Lab. Law § § 650-665, nor included the " spread of hours" premium mandated by New York regulations (Count III), see N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 12, § 142-2.4. He also brings two claims alleging violations of New York statutes that require employers to furnish their employees with wage notices and statements (Counts IV and V), see N.Y. Lab. Law § 195(1), (3). He brings his FLSA claim on behalf of himself and other " similarly situated" employees, pursuant to the FLSA's collective action mechanism, see 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), and his state law claims as part of a putative class action under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 9-10.

Plaintiff filed his motion for conditional certification, court-authorized notice, and expedited discovery on November 26, 2013. Dkt. No. 13. Along with their opposition brief, Defendants filed a cross-motion for judgment on the pleadings on December 30, 2013. Dkt. No. 22. On January 13, 2014, Plaintiff filed a brief in further support of his own motion and in opposition to Defendants' cross-motion; Defendants did not file a reply brief with respect to their cross-motion, so both motions were fully submitted as of January 13.

Pursuant to the case management plan and scheduling order governing this action, Dkt. No. 21, fact discovery was set to close on April 21, 2014. But at the parties' request, the Court has adjourned that deadline with respect to discovery related to the Second Avenue and Pirgos diners until the two pending motions are decided. Dkt. Nos. 31, 33.

II. Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings

The Court will address Defendants' Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings first. Dkt. No. 22. Defendants argue that Plaintiff's claims against Second Avenue and Pirgos should be dismissed for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted. For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is denied.

A. Legal Standard

Under Rule 12(c), a party may move for judgment on the pleadings " [a]fter the pleadings are closed." Courts evaluate such motions under the same standards applicable to motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Hayden v. Paterson, 594 F.3d 150, 160 (2d Cir. 2010). Thus, to survive Defendants' motion, Plaintiff's 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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). While well-pleaded factual allegations must be accepted as true, " a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not ...


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