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Winfield v. Babylon Beauty Sch. of Smithtown Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. New York

March 7, 2015

DANNINE WINFIELD, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, ALEXANDRA ALLEN, and ERALDA CARCANI, Plaintiffs,
BABYLON BEAUTY SCHOOL OF SMITHTOWN INC., doing business as Long Island Beauty School and Hair Design Institute, LONG ISLAND BEAUTY SCHOOL, INC., ANTHONY CIVITANO, SALVATORE D. PAPPACODA, and JOHN DOE ENTITIES, Fictitious name and number unknown, all conducting business as Long Island Beauty School and/or Hair Design Institute, Defendants

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For the Plaintiffs: LEON GREENBERG, ESQ., P.C., Las Vegas, Nevada.


For the Defendants: William P. McLane, Esq., Lauren J. Marcus, Esq., LITTLER MENDELSON, P.C., Newark, NJ.

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ARTHUR D. SPATT, United States District Judge.

This case arises from allegations that students at cosmetology schools operated by the Defendants Anthony Civitano (" Civitano" ) and Salvatore D. Pappacoda (" Pappacoda" ) (collectively, the " Individual Defendants" ) failed to receive minimum or overtime wages for performing personal beauty services on consumers in clinics

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that were operated by the Individual Defendants' Schools.

On April 28, 2014, the Plaintiffs Dannine Winfield (" Winfield" ), Alexandra Allen (" Allen" ), and Eralda Carcani (" Carcani" ) (collectively, the " Plaintiffs" ), on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, commenced the present action against the Defendants Babylon Beauty School of Smithtown Inc. (" Babylon Beauty School" ), Long Island Beauty School, Inc. (" Long Island Beauty School" ), Civitano, Pappacoda, and John Doe Entities conducting business as Long Island Beauty School and/or Hair Design Institute, (collectively, the " Defendants" ). The Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants violated: (i) the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. (" FLSA" ); (ii) Article X, Section 24 of the Florida Constitution; and (iii) Section 652 of the New York Labor Law (" NYLL" ).

Presently before the Court is the Defendants' motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (" Fed. R. Civ. P" ) 12(b)(6) to dismiss the Plaintiffs' amended complaint.

For the reasons set forth below, the Defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.


A. Underlying Facts

Unless otherwise noted, the Court draws the following facts from the Plaintiffs' amended complaint and construes them in the light most favorable to the Plaintiffs.

1. The Parties

The Plaintiff Winfield is a resident of Suffolk County. (Am. Compl. at ¶ 4.) The Plaintiffs Allen and Carcani are Florida residents. (Id. at ¶ ¶ 4, 5.)

The Defendants Babylon Beauty School and Long Island Beauty School are New York corporations with principal places of business located in Suffolk County. (Id. at ¶ ¶ 8, 9.) They are for-profit " educational services business[es]" that offer students training in cosmetology trades, including " barbering, esthetics, . . . skin care, makeup artistry, and manicuring." (Id. at ¶ 22.)

The Individual Defendants Civitano and Pappacoda are the owners, officers, and directors of the Babylon Beauty School and the Long Island Beauty School, as well as other unspecified entities that provide cosmetology training in six different locations in Florida and New York. (Id. at ¶ 11.) The complaint does not allege which schools the Plaintiffs attended or their dates of attendance.

The Plaintiffs also seek to certify a class action pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 23 and a collective action pursuant to Section 216(b) of the FLSA of individuals who from 2011 to 2014 were " uncompensated employees of the Defendants in their profit making personal service businesses." (Compl. at ¶ 14.)

Finally as to the parties, the Defendants John Doe Entities are unspecified entities operated by the Individual Defendants, which allegedly provided cosmetology training to the proposed class members during the relevant period. (Id. at ¶ 12.)

2. The New York and Florida Regulations Governing Cosmetology

a. The New York Regulations

Under Section 401 of the New York General Business Law (" NYGBL" ), " no person shall engage in the practice of nail specialty, waxing, natural hair styling, esthetics or cosmetology . . . without having received a license to engage in such practice in the manner prescribed in this article." If an individual practices cosmetology without obtaining a license, he or she is subject to a civil penalty of " up to five hundred dollars for the first violation;

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one thousand dollars for a second such violation; and two thousand five hundred dollars for a third violation and any subsequent violation." N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law § 412 (McKinney)

In order to obtain a license, an individual must complete a cosmetology course, which consists of 1,000 hours of instruction at a licensed cosmetology school pursuant to a curriculum established by the New York Secretary of State. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 19, § 162.4.

b. The Florida Regulations

Similarly, under the Florida Cosmetology Act, Fla. Stat. Ann. § 477.014, any individual seeking to practice cosmetology must obtain a license. To qualify for a license, the individual must have " received a minimum of 1,200 hours of training as established by the board, which shall include, but shall not be limited to, the equivalent of completion of services directly related to the practice of cosmetology" at a licensed school of cosmetology or a publicly operated cosmetology program. See Fla. Stat. Ann. § 477.019 (West). An individual who practices cosmetology without a valid license is subject to, among other penalties, a fine not to exceed $500 for each separate offense; a reprimand; and the revocation or suspension of a license. Fla. Stat. Ann. § 477.029 (West).

3. The Plaintiffs' Allegations

The Individual Defendants operated licensed cosmetology schools. (Am. Compl. at ¶ 23.) Students who attended the Defendants' schools were required to participate in clinics in which students performed personal cosmetology services on consumers -- such as barbering, esthetics, or skin care -- and in exchange, the consumers would pay a fee to the school. (Id.) For their work, the students received academic credit toward their New York and Florida State licensing requirements. (Id. at ¶ 36.) However, the students did not receive any monetary compensation. (Id. at ¶ 26.) Allegedly, the Defendants kept all of the revenue generated by their clinics. (Id.)

The Plaintiffs allege that the revenue generated by the clinics provides the Defendants with a substantial profit. (Id. at ¶ 24.) In addition, the Individual Defendants' schools enjoy much lower operating costs than for-profit salons, which are required to pay their employees a minimum wage. (Id. at ¶ 23, 32.) Thus, the Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants enjoy a significant competitive advantage over for-profit salons. (Id. at ¶ 30.)

The Plaintiffs further allege that the Individual Defendants required students working in the clinics: (i) to sell the Individual Defendants' products to consumers; (ii) to work at the clinics on Saturdays; and (iii) to provide any service requested by a consumer even if the requested service was not related to an area of cosmetology in which the student was seeking a license. (Id. at ¶ 40(e).)

Moreover, the complaint alleges that " some" of the class members were required by the Defendants to perform " manual labor and administrative functions including, but not limited to, janitorial, clerical or logistical functions," which were " essential and necessary" for the Defendants' business but which served " no educational purpose or benefit to the class members." (Id. at ¶ 40(d).)

The amended complaint contains no allegations specifically referencing the named Plaintiffs, including which of the Individual Defendants' schools they attended and when they attended those schools. However, the complaint alleges that each of the named Plaintiffs worked in excess of five hundred hours in the clinics operated by the Individual Defendants from 2011 to 2014. (Id. at ¶ 39.)

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B. Procedural History

On August 14, 2013, the Plaintiffs commenced the present action. On April 10, 2014, the Defendants filed a motion pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) to dismiss the Plaintiffs' complaint.

In response, on April 28, 2014, the Plaintiff filed an amended complaint. The amended complaint alleges that the Defendants violated (1) FLSA § § 206, 207; (2) NYLL § § 198, 652; and (3) Article X, Section 24 of the Florida Constitution. (Id. at ¶ ¶ 51, 56, 61.)

The Plaintiffs seek (i) monetary damages in the form of unpaid and overtime wages; (ii) declaratory and injunctive relief restraining the Defendants from committing future violations of federal and state labor laws; ...

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