Reinhardt v. Gemini Motor Transp.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
Citation869 F.Supp.2d 1158
Decision Date25 April 2012
Docket NumberNo. 1:11–CV–1944 AWI SMS.,1:11–CV–1944 AWI SMS.
PartiesDonald REINHARDT, and Jon Armstrong, Plaintiffs, v. GEMINI MOTOR TRANSPORT, an Oklahoma limited liability partnership, and Does 1–10, inclusive, Defendants.

869 F.Supp.2d 1158

Donald REINHARDT, and Jon Armstrong, Plaintiffs,
v.
GEMINI MOTOR TRANSPORT, an Oklahoma limited liability partnership, and Does 1–10, inclusive, Defendants.

No. 1:11–CV–1944 AWI SMS.

United States District Court,
E.D. California.

April 25, 2012.


[869 F.Supp.2d 1160]


David Ian Himelson, The Himelson Law Firm, Los Angeles, CA, for Plaintiff.

John Greg Coulter, Rossana Sy Eltanal, Littler Mendelson, Phoenix, AZ, for Defendants.

[869 F.Supp.2d 1161]


ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

ANTHONY W. ISHII, Chief Judge.

This case is arises from the termination of an employment relationship between Plaintiffs Donald Reinhardt (“Reinhardt”) and Jon Armstrong (“Armstrong”) (collectively “Plaintiffs”), and their former employer Defendant Gemini Motor Transport (“Gemini”). Plaintiffs allege ten California state law causes of action under the Labor Code, the Business & Professions Code, the Government Code, contract related claims, and state law wrongful termination in violation of public policy. Gemini now moves to dismiss eight of the ten causes of action (Gemini does not challenge Armstrong's age-related termination claims), and also moves to strike Plaintiffs' request for disgorgement of profits. For the reasons that follow, Gemini's motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND1

From the Complaint, Reinhardt was employed by Gemini as a gasoline/diesel fuel delivery truck driver from August 2006 to January 29, 2010. Reinhardt was stationed at a Love's Gas Station 2 in Ripon, California. Reinhardt worked 12 hour shifts. Reinhardt's duties as a Gemini driver included: (1) driving an empty truck from Ripon to Stockton, California, loading the truck with fuel at a “tank farm” in Stockton, and then driving back to Ripon to unload the fuel; (2) driving an empty truck from Ripon to Fresno, California, filling the truck at a “tank farm” in Fresno, and then driving back to Ripon to unload the fuel; (3) delivering fuel from Ripon to a Love's station in Lost Hills, California; and (4) delivering fuel from Ripon to a Love's station in Tulare, California.3 Reinhardt was paid a flat rate fee for these deliveries. Specifically, Reinhardt was paid $63.14 for the 48–mile round trip to Stockton, $135 for the 240–mile round trip to Fresno, $258 for the 460–mile round trip to Lost Hills, and approximately $135 for the delivery to Tulare.

Armstrong was employed by Gemini as a gasoline/diesel fuel delivery truck driver from May 11, 2006, to March 21, 2011. Armstrong was assigned to the Love's station in Lost Hills. Armstrong resided in Bakersfield, California, and began each day by going to the facility in Bakersfield where the Gemini delivery truck was located. Armstrong then would drive his empty truck to a “tank farm” in either Bakersfield or Fresno, fill up there, drive to Lost Hills and unload, and then drive the empty truck back to Bakersfield. Armstrong was paid a flat-rate fee of $132.20 for trips involving fuel loads from Fresno, and $81.00 or $94.55 for trips involving fuel loads from Bakersfield.4 For the first 3 years of employment, Armstrong's shifts were less than 12 hours, but after deliveries

[869 F.Supp.2d 1162]

to Fresno were added, his shifts were more than 12 hours.

On a daily basis during their employment with Gemini, and pursuant to a company practice and policy, Gemini knowingly failed to provide Plaintiffs (and other drivers) with timely, off-duty, 30–minute meal periods or timely, off-duty 10–minute rest periods at any time. Instead, Gemini actively and forcefully discouraged and prevented drives from having any off-duty meal periods or rest periods in the course of the drivers' 12+ hour work days. Gemini failed to implement or disseminate policies that would be consistent with the drivers' rights to a 30–minute meal period and 10–minute rest periods.

On a daily basis and throughout Plaintiffs' employment with Gemini, various managers and dispatch personnel (who were located at corporate headquarters in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) imposed time pressures on drivers by continually calling drivers on communication devices. Gemini personnel would explicitly and repeatedly instruct drivers to “go straight there and come straight back,” ask for ETA's back to the station, tell drivers to “run and get the load done,” reminding drivers of the written policy that drivers are not allowed to leave the area while loading or unloading is in progress because of the fuel's hazardous nature, and warning drivers that they are not to pull off the road or stop at all, especially while carrying a load. Drivers do all the loading and unloading work themselves. While at the “tank farms” loading gasoline/diesel fuel, waiting to load may take considerable time (because of the presence of other trucks), and the drivers are not permitted to leave their trucks while they are in the queue for fuel. Further, Gemini trucks are equipped with an on-board computer GPS and monitoring system. The computer system automatically and continuously sends a stream of information to corporate headquarters in Oklahoma City. This permits Gemini personnel to see a truck's exact location, speed, direction, and engine RPM's on a second-by-second basis. The on-board computer system allows managers to virtually ride with every driver at all times. Finally, Gemini drivers are required to immediately input into the on-board computer system every change of status in the course of a day, including the exact timing and nature of every stop. Plaintiffs are unaware of any way to identify periods for meal and rest breaks on the computer system.

Per Gemini policy, drivers are compensated for standard duties according to a uniform piece-rate system, which is different from an hourly-wage method in that drivers are paid primarily on the basis of miles driven rather than hours worked. Per Gemini policy, drivers are required to perform significant amounts of non-driving duties on either a daily or weekly basis. These non-driving duties are not recognized under any pay rubric, and the drivers receive no separate compensation. The mandatory duties include: (1) daily pre-trip and post-trip vehicle inspections; (2) daily truck refueling; (3) weekly truck wash for Lead Drivers; 5 (4) detention or waiting time at the “tank farms”; and (5) time spent driving an empty vehicle.6

When Armstrong was hired, the regional manager told Armstrong that drivers would receive a minimum of $200 per day. Between 2008 and 2009, Gemini's National Manager sent drivers a letter stating that minimum daily pay was being reduced to

[869 F.Supp.2d 1163]

$165. However, drivers often did not receive the minimum pay, even after complaining about it.

When Reinhardt applied for his job in 2006, Gemini assured him that the company provided pay for detention or waiting time at the “tank farms” of $24 per hour. Gemini did this for the first month of employment, but then simply dropped this category of pay. Similarly, when Reinhardt began his employment, Gemini paid $15 for truck wash time, and later increased that amount to $25. However, after the first year, Gemini stopped paying anything for this activity.

LEGAL FRAMEWORK

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a claim may be dismissed because of the plaintiff's “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) may be based on the lack of a cognizable legal theory or on the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory. Johnson v. Riverside Healthcare Sys., 534 F.3d 1116, 1121 (9th Cir.2008); Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir.2001). In reviewing a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), all allegations of material fact are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Marceau v. Blackfeet Hous. Auth., 540 F.3d 916, 919 (9th Cir.2008); Vignolo v. Miller, 120 F.3d 1075, 1077 (9th Cir.1997). However, the Court is not required “to accept as true allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences.” In re Gilead Scis. Sec. Litig., 536 F.3d 1049, 1056–57 (9th Cir.2008); Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir.2001). To avoid a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal, “a complaint 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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009); see Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 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 draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. The Ninth Circuit has distilled the following principles from Iqbal and Twombly:

First, to be entitled to the presumption of truth, allegations in a complaint or counterclaim may not simply recite the elements of a cause of action, but must contain sufficient allegations of underlying facts to give fair notice and to enable the opposing party to defend itself effectively. Second, the factual allegations that are taken as true must plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief, such that it is not unfair to require the opposing party to be subjected to the expense of discovery and continued litigation.

Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1216 (9th Cir.2011). If a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is granted, “[the] district court should grant leave to amend even if no request to amend the pleading was made, unless it determines that the pleading could not possibly be cured by the allegation of other facts.” Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127 (9th Cir.2000) (en banc). That is, leave to amend need not be granted where amendment would be futile. Gompper v. VISX, Inc., 298 F.3d 893, 898 (9th Cir.2002).


DEFENDANTS' MOTION
1. California Labor Code § 226.7 and § 512 (First & Second Causes of Action)
Defendant's...

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