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York v. Velox Express Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville

October 5, 2018

VANESSA YORK, MARSHALL EMMERLING, and MATTHEW MOSS, Each Individually and on Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated PLAINTIFFS


          Charles R. Simpson III, Senior Judge United States District Court


         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion for Conditional Certification (DN 21) and Defendant's Renewed Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim for which relief can be granted (DN 41). For the following reasons, the Court will GRANT Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (DN 41); and DENY as MOOT Plaintiffs' Motion for Conditional Certification (DN 21).


         A. Factual Background

         Plaintiffs Vanessa York, Marshall Emmerling, and Matthew Moss (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) were employed by Defendant Velox Express, Inc. (“Velox”) as courier/delivery drivers. (Compl. ¶ 7, DN 1). Plaintiffs brought suit, individually and on behalf of other similarly situated persons, alleging that Velox failed to pay them, and other similarly situated individuals, minimum wages and overtime wages in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq. Plaintiffs also bring individual claims under the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act (“AMWA”), Ark. Code Ann. § 11-4-201, et seq.

         In the Complaint, Plaintiffs allege that Velox “required Plaintiffs and similarly situated employees to drive their own vehicles in the performance of their job duties as courier/delivery drivers.” (Compl. ¶ 23). “In performing their job duties for [Velox], Plaintiffs incurred vehicle-related expenses for the benefit of [Velox], including but not limited to gas/mileage, maintenance costs, and depreciation to their vehicles.” (Compl. ¶ 25). Plaintiffs were paid pursuant to a “piece rate” payment method that “did not include any amount intended to cover any of Plaintiffs' expenses in operating their vehicles.” (Compl. ¶ 27). Velox “paid Plaintiffs a piece rate for their services, regardless of the number of hours worked by Plaintiffs.” (Compl. ¶ 26). Plaintiffs contend that Velox failed to pay Plaintiffs minimum wage and overtime “due in part to [Velox's] failure to reimburse Plaintiffs for their vehicle-related expenses and due to [Velox's] piece rate pay structure.” (Compl. ¶ 50).

         B. Procedural History

         On September 1, 2017, Plaintiffs commenced this action against Velox in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. (DN 1). They brought individual and collective action claims under FLSA, as well as individual claims under the AMWA. On October 2, 2017, Velox moved to transfer the case to the Western District of Kentucky. (DN 5). Plaintiffs opposed transfer. (DN 9). While the Motion to Transfer was pending, Velox moved to dismiss the action for failure to state a claim (DN 7), and Plaintiffs moved for conditional collective action certification (DN 21). On March 26, 2018, Velox moved to stay the case pending the Court's rulings on the Motions to Transfer and Dismiss. (DN 23). On April 5, 2018, having received no ruling on its Motion to Stay, Velox filed a Response opposing certification. (DN 26). On July 17, 2018, the Eastern District of Arkansas granted Velox's Motion to Transfer (DN 30) and the case was subsequently transferred to the Western District of Kentucky. On August 2, 2018, Velox filed a Renewed Motion to Dismiss with this Court. (DN 41). Plaintiff filed a response (DN 45), to which Defendant replied (DN 50). On September 17, 2018, this Court granted Velox's Motion to Stay (DN 49), and the action was stayed pending the Court's ruling on Velox's Renewed Motion to Dismiss (hereinafter, “Motion to Dismiss”).


         When evaluating a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must determine whether the complaint alleges “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 Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)) (internal quotation marks omitted). A claim is plausible if “the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Although the complaint need not contain “detailed factual allegations, ” “a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal quotation marks and alteration omitted). “Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertion[s] devoid of further factual enhancement.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         A. FLSA Claims

         Velox moves to dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint because Plaintiffs have failed to plead any facts that would support an inference that (1) Velox's failure to reimburse for vehicle-related expenses caused Plaintiffs to receive a wage below minimum wage; and (2) Plaintiffs worked more than forty hours in a week and were not compensated for that time. Specifically, Velox contends that Plaintiffs “have not pled facts demonstrating a single workweek in which they worked in excess of forty hours but were not paid overtime ...

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