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Pazda v. Blast Fitness Group Personal Training, LLC

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

August 29, 2013

SCOTT PAZDA, on behalf of himself, and all other plaintiffs similarly situated, known and unknown, Plaintiff,
v.
BLAST FITNESS GROUP PERSONAL TRAINING, LLC., a/k/a BLAST FITNESS GROUP, LLC, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOHN W. DARRAH, District Judge.

Plaintiff Scott Pazda, on behalf of himself and all other plaintiffs similarly situated, known and unknown, filed a Complaint against Defendant Blast Fitness Group Personal Training, LLC., a/k/a Blast Fitness Group, LLC, on January 16, 2013. Plaintiff alleges five counts against Defendant: (I) violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq. ("FLSA"); (II) willful violation of the FLSA; (III) entitlement to liquidated damages under the FLSA Section 260; (IV) violation of the Illinois Minimum Wage Law, 820 ILCS § 105/1, et seq. ("IMWL"); and (V) violation of the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act, 820 ILCS § 115/1, et seq. ("IWPCA").

Defendant moves to dismiss the Complaint in its entirety for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on the basis of Plaintiff's individual claims and class or collective action claims. The Motion has been fully briefed.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are drawn from Plaintiff's Complaint and are accepted as true for purposes of the Motion to Dismiss. Kolbe & Kolbe Health & Welfare Benefit Plan v. Med. Coll. of Wis., Inc., 657 F.3d 496, 502 (7th Cir. 2011). Plaintiff was employed as a fitness trainer with Defendant-a company that provides health and fitness services. (Compl. ¶¶ 3-4.) The unnamed plaintiffs, known and unknown, are past or present employees of Defendant ("Plaintiff Class"). ( Id. ¶ 4.) Plaintiff and the Plaintiff Class held positions designated as "managers" and were salaried employees. ( Id. ¶ 11.) Defendant granted commissions to Plaintiff and the Plaintiff Class in addition to their salaries and classified them under an "inside sales" exemption for overtime compensation purposes. ( Id. ¶ 12.) However, the positions purportedly did not qualify for the "inside sales" exemption claimed by Defendant. ( Id. ) Plaintiff alleges during most, if not all, weeks Defendant failed to pay the statutory state and/or federal minimum wage rates to Plaintiff and the Plaintiff Class. ( Id. ¶ 13.)

Plaintiff asserts the following regarding Defendant's violation of the FLSA: Defendant violated the FLSA by failing to pay compensation for all hours worked and overtime compensation for all hours worked in excess of forty (40) hours per week ( id. ¶¶ 14-15); Defendant's violation was done with Defendant's knowledge or with a reckless disregard for committing a violation ( id. ¶ 16); and Defendant's actions "were not based upon good faith or reasonable grounds." ( Id. ¶ 18.) Additionally, Plaintiff alleges Defendant violated the IMWL willfully and/or in bad faith in a similar respect to the FLSA violation ( id. ¶¶ 20, 22); and Defendant violated the IWPCA by breaching its agreement with Plaintiff and the Plaintiff Class to fully comply with state and federal wage and hour laws. ( Id. ¶ 24.)

Counts I, II, and III, based on the FLSA, are brought by Plaintiff on behalf of himself and the Plaintiff Class as a collective action under the FLSA Section 216(b). ( Id. ¶ 7.) Counts IV and V, based on the IMWL and the IWPCA, respectively, are brought by Plaintiff on behalf of himself and the Plaintiff Class, who have identical state-law claims as Plaintiff.[1] ( Id. ¶¶ 5-6, 8-9, 22, 27.)

LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a defendant to raise the defense that the plaintiff failed "to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). When evaluating a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), all factual allegations in the complaint are taken as true, and all reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the plaintiff. White v. Marshall & Ilsley Corp., 714 F.3d 980, 985 (7th Cir. 2013) (citation omitted). This principle, however, does not apply to legal conclusions. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009).

To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain factual allegations that satisfy the threshold of facial plausibility, allowing the court to draw a reasonable inference that the defendant is in fact liable for the misconduct alleged by the plaintiff. Id. Although a plaintiff need only provide "enough detail to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests, " Reger Dev., LLC v. Nat'l City Bank, 592 F.3d 759, 764 (7th Cir. 2010) (quoting Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1083 (7th Cir. 2008)), a mere "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

ANALYSIS

Count I: Violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act

In Count I, Plaintiff cites to the FLSA and the Portal-to-Portal Act, 29 U.S.C. § 251 et seq., as entitling him and the Plaintiff Class to compensation for all hours worked and overtime compensation for all hours worked in excess of forty (40) hours in any week. (Compl. ¶ 14.) With respect to such compensation, Plaintiff alleges "Defendant has at all times relevant hereto failed and refused to pay compensation to its employees...." ( Id. ¶ 15.) Defendant argues Plaintiff "offers nothing more than boilerplate recitations of the FLSA, the IMWL, and the IWPCA without any supporting facts to suggest his claims are plausible." (Def.'s Mot. at 2.)

Plaintiff cites Twombly and Iqbal to refute Defendant's demand for greater detail in the Complaint and thus declares "Plaintiff's pleading puts Defendant on sufficient notice of the wage and hour violations alleged." (Pl.'s Resp. at 3.) Indeed, the notice pleading standard promoted by Twombly and Iqbal has been liberally applied to wage claims, such as FLSA violations. The Eleventh Circuit, for example, has opined that "[u]nlike the complex antitrust scheme at issue in Twombly that required allegations of an agreement suggesting conspiracy, the requirements to state a claim of a FLSA violation are quite straightforward. The elements that must be shown are simply a failure to pay overtime compensation and/or minimum wages...." Sec'y of Labor v. Labbe, 319 Fed.Appx. 761, 763 (11th Cir. 2008). Courts in this district have adopted Labbe and applied looser pleading standards to FLSA claims. See, e.g., Sanchez v. Haltz Constr., Inc., No. 09 C 7531, 2012 WL 13514, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 4, 2012); Allen v. City of Chi., No. 10 C 3183, 2011 WL 941383, at *6 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 15, 2011). The Seventh Circuit has agreed with this principle, insofar as requiring less ...


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