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Day v. Air Methods Corp.

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

October 23, 2017

LETCH G. DAY, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
AIR METHODS CORP., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Danny C. Reeves United States District Judge

         This matter is pending for consideration of the defendants' motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' Complaint pursuant to Rules 12(b)(2), and (6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. [Record No. 4] For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant, in part, and deny, in part, defendants' motion to dismiss.

         I.

         Plaintiffs Letch G. Day, Stephanie E. Fields, Steven D. Frasure, Stephanie G. Logsdon, Sonya A. Burkhart, Leslie H. Fryman, Sean H. Davenport, and Edwin Bentley are former employees of Defendant Air Method Corporation. The plaintiffs purportedly filed this lawsuit on behalf of themselves and other similarly-situated employees who are or were employed by AMC. They allege violations of the Kentucky Wage and Hour Act (“KWHA”), KRS 337.010, et seq., and various other state wage and hour laws. Additionally, the plaintiffs assert claims of unjust enrichment and retaliation. [Record No. 1-1, p. 4] This action was removed to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C §§ 1441, 1453, 1466 and the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”). [Record No. 1]

         The plaintiffs assert that AMC failed to pay its employees overtime for all hours worked over forty hours in a week in violation of KRS § 377.285(1). [Record No. 1-1, ¶ 35] They also allege on behalf of similarly-situated current and former employees that AMC failed to pay overtime in violation of various state wage and hour laws. [Id. at ¶¶ 41-42] The plaintiffs contend that the failure to pay them required compensation unjustly enriched AMC. Finally, the plaintiffs' assert that AMC retaliated against them by terminating their employment after they made various complaints regarding wage issues in violation of KRS § 377.990(9). [Id. at ¶¶ 48-79]

         II.

         The plaintiffs have the burden of establishing personal jurisdiction. Conn v. Zakharov, 667 F.3d 705, 711 (6th Cir. 2012). The plaintiffs must make a two-part prima facie showing to survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. First, they must demonstrate that “jurisdiction is proper under a long-arm statute or other jurisdictional rule of . . . the forum state”. Second, they must show that “the Due Process Clause also allows for jurisdiction under the facts of the case.” Id. If either part of the test is not met, the analysis ends. See Id. at 711-12 (“[I]f jurisdiction is not proper under the Due Process Clause[, ] it is unnecessary to analyze jurisdiction under the state long-arm statute, and vice-versa.”). However, the prima facie burden is “‘relatively slight.'” Air Prods. & Controls, Inc. v. Safetech Int'l, Inc., 503 F.3d 544, 549 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting Am. Greetings Corp. v. Cohn, 839 F.2d 1164, 1169 (6th Cir. 1989)). In determining whether a plaintiff has made this necessary showing, the Court views the parties' submissions “in a light most favorable to the plaintiff, ” disregarding any contrary assertions by the defendant. Id. (citing Theunissen v. Matthews, 1454');">935 F.2d 1454, 1458 (6th Cir. 1991)).

         Next, in considering a motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court must determine whether the complaint states a claim for which relief is available. It “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 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The factual allegations must be sufficient to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, and permit the Court to “draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. While a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, it must contain more than an “unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Id. “A pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or a ‘formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action'” is insufficient. Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         III.

         A. Personal Jurisdiction

         Specific jurisdiction “depends on an ‘affiliation[n] between the forum and the underlying controversy, ' principally, activity or an occurrence that takes place in the forum State and is therefore subject to the State's regulation.” Goodyear Dunlop tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 15');">564 U.S. 915, 919 (2011) (quoting von Mehren & Trautman, Jurisdiction to Adjudicate: A Suggested Analysis, 79 Harv. L. Rev. 1121, 1136 (1966). AMC contends that this Court does not have personal jurisdiction over it regarding all claims brought in a representative capacity of similarly-situated employees employed by the defendant outside of Kentucky. This argument is misplaced because the inquiry for personal jurisdiction lies with the named parties of the suit asserting their various claims against the defendant, not the unnamed proposed class members.[1" name="FN1" id= "FN1">1] AMC fails to cite any authority that would support the assertion that its contacts with the named plaintiff and this forum are insufficient to for this Court to exercise specific personal jurisdiction over them. Instead, this court may exercise personal jurisdiction over AMC if such jurisdiction is authorized by Kentucky law and otherwise consistent with the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See AlixPartners LLP v. Brewington, 836 F.3d 543, 549 (6th Cir. 2016). AMC does not contend that personal jurisdiction would be improper over the claims brought by the named plaintiffs in this case. As a result, the Court will deny AMC's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.

         B. The KWHA and Class Actions

         AMC contends that KRS § 337.385(2) does not authorize class actions for Kentucky wage and hour violations. In support, it relies on a 2015 Kentucky Court of Appeals decision which was recently reversed by the Supreme Court of Kentucky. McCann v. Sullivan University Systems, Inc., No. 2014-CA-392, 2015 WL 832280 (Ky. Ct. App. Feb. 27, 2015), rev'd, __ S.W.3d __, 2017 WL 3631704 (Ky. Aug. 24, 2017). The supreme court found that “[t[he General Assembly did not create a special statutory proceeding brought under KRS 337.385. Therefore, we hold, as a matter of law, that CR 23 remains an available procedural mechanism to McCann's cause of action brought under KRS 337.385.” McCann, 2017 WL 3631704, at *4. Because Kentucky's highest has held that KRS §337.385 authorizes class actions, AMC's motion to dismiss on this ground will be denied.

         C. Airline ...


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