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Landers v. Quality Communs., Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

November 12, 2014

GREG LANDERS, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
QUALITY COMMUNICATIONS, INC.; BRADY E. WELLS; ROBERT J. HUBER, Defendants-Appellees

Argued and Submitted, November 8, 2013, San Francisco, California

As Corrected November 4, 2014.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Nevada. D.C. No. 2:11-cv-01928-JCM-RJJ. James C. Mahan, District Judge, Presiding.

SUMMARY[**]

Labor Law

The panel affirmed the dismissal, pursuant to Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, of an action under the Fair Labor Standards Act, alleging failure to pay minimum wages and overtime wages.

The panel held that under Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009), it is not enough for a complaint under the FLSA merely to allege that the employer failed to pay the employee minimum wages or overtime wages. Rather, the allegations in the complaint must plausibly state a claim that the employer failed to pay minimum wages or overtime wages. Agreeing with the First, Second, and Third Circuits, the panel held that detailed factual allegations regarding the number of overtime hours worked are not required, but conclusory allegations that merely recite the statutory language are not adequate. A plaintiff asserting a claim to overtime payments must allege that she worked more than forty hours in a given workweek without being compensated for the hours worked in excess of forty during that week.

The panel held that the complaint in this case did not state a plausible claim because it did not allege facts showing that there was a specific week in which the plaintiff was entitled to but denied minimum wages or overtime wages.

Christian James Gabroy, Gabroy Law Offices, Henderson, Nevada; Leon Greenberg and Dana Sniegocki (argued), Leon Greenberg Professional Corporation, Las Vegas, Nevada, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Malani L. Kotchka (argued) and Steven C. Anderson, Lionel, Sawyer, & Collins, Las Vegas, Nevada, for Defendants-Appellees.

Before: Andrew J. Kleinfeld, Johnnie B. Rawlinson, and Ronald Lee Gilman[*], Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 639

RAWLINSON, Circuit Judge:

Plaintiff-Appellant Greg Landers (Landers) appeals from an order dismissing his complaint against Defendants-Appellees Quality Communications, Inc. (Quality), Brady E. Wells, and Robert J. Huber. Landers' complaint alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Specifically, Landers alleged that Quality failed to pay Landers and other similarly situated employees minimum wages and overtime wages. The district court dismissed Landers's complaint pursuant to Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and Landers filed a timely appeal. We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291, and we affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

Landers was employed bye Quality as a cable services installer. He brought suit, individually and on behalf of other similarly situated persons, alleging that Quality failed to pay him, and other similarly situated individuals, minimum wages and overtime wages in violation of the FLSA.

Page 640

In the complaint, Landers alleged that: (1) he was employed by Quality in its cable television, phone, and internet service installation business; (2) his employment was subject to the FLSA's minimum wage and overtime pay requirements; (3) he was not paid at the minimum wage; and (4) he was subjected to a " piecework no overtime" wage system, whereby he worked in excess of forty hours per week without being compensated for his overtime.

In the alternative, Landers alleged that even if he were paid some measure of overtime, the overtime payment was less than that required by the FLSA. According to Landers, Quality failed to compensate him for all of the overtime hours he worked and/or the overtime rate at which he was paid was calculated using an incorrect rate, resulting in an overtime payment that was less than that required by the FLSA. Quality moved to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Rules 8(a)(2) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The district court granted the motion, concluding that Landers failed to state a plausible claim for unpaid minimum wages and overtime wages. The district court determined that the complaint did " not make any factual allegations providing an approximation of the overtime hours worked, plaintiff's hourly wage, or the amount of unpaid overtime wages. . . ." Given these deficiencies, the district court concluded that the allegations asserted in the complaint were " merely consistent" with Quality's liability, but fell " short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to ...


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