799 F.3d 957 (8th Cir. 2015), 14-3258, Ash v. Anderson Merchandisers, LLC

Docket Nº:14-3258
Citation:799 F.3d 957
Opinion Judge:KELLY, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:Linda Ash; Abbie Jewsome, Plaintiffs - Appellants v. Anderson Merchandisers, LLC; West AM, LLC; AnConnect, LLC, Defendants - Appellees
Attorney:For Linda Ash, Abbie Jewsome, Plaintiffs - Appellants: Carrie Mulholland Brous, Tammy L. Horn, Brous & Horn LLC, Overland Park, KS; Brendan J. Donelon, Donelon, P.C., Kansas City, MO. For Anderson Merchandisers, LLC, West AM, LLC, AnConnect, LLC, Defendants - Appellees: Daniel B. Boatright, Littl...
Judge Panel:Before MURPHY, COLLOTON, and KELLY, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:August 21, 2015
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
SUMMARY

Ash and Jewsome filed suit under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201, on behalf of themselves and similarly-situated persons, alleging that their employer failed to pay required overtime compensation. The district court dismissed without a hearing for failure to allege that defendants were their employer for purposes of the FLSA, and failure to allege a substantive FLSA cause of... (see full summary)

 
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Page 957

799 F.3d 957 (8th Cir. 2015)

Linda Ash; Abbie Jewsome, Plaintiffs - Appellants

v.

Anderson Merchandisers, LLC; West AM, LLC; AnConnect, LLC, Defendants - Appellees

No. 14-3258

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

August 21, 2015

Submitted April 16, 2015

Page 958

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 959

Appeal from United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri - Kansas City.

For Linda Ash, Abbie Jewsome, Plaintiffs - Appellants: Carrie Mulholland Brous, Tammy L. Horn, Brous & Horn LLC, Overland Park, KS; Brendan J. Donelon, Donelon, P.C., Kansas City, MO.

For Anderson Merchandisers, LLC, West AM, LLC, AnConnect, LLC, Defendants - Appellees: Daniel B. Boatright, Littler & Mendelson, Kansas City, MO; Cori Katherine Garland, Harry W. Wellford Jr., Littler & Mendelson, Saint Louis, MO.

Before MURPHY, COLLOTON, and KELLY, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

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KELLY, Circuit Judge.

Linda Ash and Abbie Jewsome appeal the dismissal of their complaint alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., and the denial of their post-dismissal motion to vacate the district court's1 order pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 60(b) and 59(e) and request for leave to file an amended complaint. Having jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we affirm the district court.

I. Background

Ash and Jewsome filed suit against Anderson Merchandisers, West AM, and AnConnect under the FLSA on April 21, 2014, on behalf of themselves and similarly-situated persons. The original complaint alleged that Anderson, West, and AnConnect, the plaintiffs' employer, had violated the FLSA by failing to pay required overtime compensation. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss on May 23, 2014, and the district court granted the motion without a hearing on July 2, 2014. Judgment was entered on behalf of Anderson, West AM, and AnConnect on July 9, 2014.

On July 11, Ash and Jewsome moved to vacate the district court's order pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 60(b) and 59(e) and requested leave to file their First Amended Complaint. The district court denied Ash and Jewsome's motion to vacate and request to file an amended complaint on September 11, 2014. Ash and Jewsome timely appealed the district court's dismissal of their complaint and denial of their motion to vacate and request for leave to amend.

II. Discussion

A. Motion to Dismiss

The district court dismissed Ash and Jewsome's complaint for failure to state a claim for two reasons: failure to allege that Anderson, West, and AnConnect were their employer for purposes of the FLSA, and failure to allege a substantive FLSA cause of action. Ash and Jewsome assert on appeal that their complaint was sufficient to state a claim for relief, and that the district court erred in determining otherwise.

" We review the dismissal of a complaint for failure to state a claim de novo, affirming dismissal if the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Horras v. Am. Capital Strategies, Ltd., 729 F.3d 798, 801 (8th Cir. 2013) (quotation, alteration, and internal citation omitted). For a pleading to state a claim for relief it must contain a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. Id. (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). The complaint must contain facts sufficient to state a claim that is plausible on its face. Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). " A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). " A pleading that offers 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

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In their complaint, Ash and Jewsome made only one allegation with regard to the defendants' status as their employer: " During all relevant times, [Anderson, West, and AnConnect] were part of an integrated enterprise and, as such, were plaintiffs' employer. During all relevant times, and upon information and belief, all of these defendants shared interrelated operations, centralized control of labor relations, common management and common ownership and/or financial control." Ash and Jewsome provided no additional facts to support these assertions. Their only allegation is simply a restatement of the legal test used to determine whether certain entities constitute a joint employer for the purpose of civil rights litigation. See Baker v. Stuart Broadcasting Co., 560 F.2d 389, 392 (8th Cir. 1977). However, " the test of employment under the FLSA is one of 'economic reality.'" Tony and Susan Alamo Found. v. Sec'y of Labor, 471 U.S. 290, 301, 105 S.Ct. 1953, 85 L.Ed.2d 278 (1985) (quoting Goldberg v. Whitaker House Co-op., Inc., 366 U.S. 28, 33, 81 S.Ct. 933, 6 L.Ed.2d 100 (1961)). Ash and Jewsome's complaint does not include any facts describing the " economic reality" of their employment, such as their alleged employers' right to control the nature and quality of their work, the employers' right to hire or fire, or the source of compensation for their work. See Goldberg, 366 U.S. at 32-33. Effectively, the only allegation as to who Ash and Jewsome's employer was is the conclusory statement that Anderson, West, and AnConnect were " part of an integrated enterprise."

This conclusory allegation is insufficient to satisfy the pleading requirements of Rule 12(b)(6). Ash and Jewsome failed to set forth any facts to support the legal conclusion that Anderson, West, and AnConnect were their employer, instead providing only " labels and conclusions" and " a formulaic recitation of the elements" of their claim. Horras, 729 F.3d at 801 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). Ash and Jewsome could have alleged--and in their first amended complaint, did allege--such facts as the name on their business cards, the identity of their supervisors, the source of their work schedules, and the information they were given when they were hired. It is this type of factual allegation that could " allow[] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). However, without this type of factual allegation, the complaint is insufficient for failure to state a necessary element of the claim.

It is important to note that Ash and Jewsome were not required to determine conclusively which of the three defendant companies was their employer at the pleadings stage or describe in detail the employer's...

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