United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
TODD SUTKA, on behalf of himself and others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
YAZAKI NORTH AMERICA INC., Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S PARTIAL
MOTION TO DISMISS
D. Borman United States District Judge.
putative class action, Plaintiff Todd Sutka alleges that his
employer, Defendant Yazaki North America Inc., misclassified
him and other employees in similar positions as exempt from
overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq.,
and consequently failed to pay them overtime compensation to
which they were entitled. Plaintiff seeks unpaid wages under
the FLSA, as well as liquidated damages for late payment of
wages under the Ohio Prompt Pay Act (“OPPA”),
Ohio Rev. Code § 4113.15.
before the Court is Defendant's Partial Motion to
Dismiss. Defendant seeks dismissal of Plaintiff's OPPA
claim only, citing language in the statute that limits
recovery of liquidated damages to cases involving unpaid
wages that are not in dispute. Accordingly, the issue
presented here is largely one of statutory interpretation.
Because the Court finds that Defendant's interpretation
is supported by the case law interpreting the relevant
statutory text, the Court will grant Defendant's Partial
Motion to Dismiss.
is a producer of auto parts, and it sells its products
globally to customers that include car manufacturers. In
certain circumstances, Defendant details its employees to
work in auto assembly plants where its products are installed
on new vehicles. Plaintiff works under such an arrangement as
a “Resident Engineer” for Defendant at Fiat
Chrysler's Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio. (ECF No. 1, Compl.
¶ 9.) Among other responsibilities, Resident Engineers
“actively monitor Yazaki product quality on the
assembly line, including physically assembling, diagnosing,
repairing, cleaning, and performing other maintenance and
quality assurance-related activities for Yazaki's
automotive products.” (Id.) Resident Engineers
are not professionally licensed and are trained primarily on
the job. (Id.)
alleges that until a few years ago, Defendant paid its
Resident Engineers hourly, and compensated their overtime at
1.5 times their normal hourly rates. Then, at some time prior
to three years before the Complaint was filed, Defendant
declared that its Resident Engineers were
“exempt” from overtime, and had them (including
Plaintiff) sign paperwork acknowledging that change. (Compl.
¶ 10.) Under the new arrangement, Resident Engineers are
paid a “'salary' [which is] reflected on their
paychecks as an hourly rate for work up to 40 hours in a
workweek.” (Id.) They are then paid
additionally for any hours they work in excess of 45 hours in
a given workweek, but they are only compensated for those
hours at their normal hourly rate. Plaintiff claims that
Defendant refers to this pay designation as “straight
overtime, ” “Straight OT, ” “Straight
OT-Salary, ” or “Premium Pay.”
(Id.) The effect of this pay structure is that
Resident Engineers are uncompensated for hours that they work
in excess of 40 hours but short of 45 hours in a given week.
Moreover, Plaintiff alleges, Defendant's designation of
Resident Engineers as “exempt” is a
misclassification. Plaintiff alleges that because Resident
Engineers are not in fact exempt from the FLSA's wage
standards, they are entitled to be paid 1.5 times their
standard hourly rate (which itself cannot be lower than the
FLSA's minimum wage) for all hours in excess of 40 hours
in a week-that is, to be paid as they were before Defendant
implemented the current pay structure. (Compl. ¶¶
filed suit on March 3, 2017. (ECF No. 1, Compl.) In the
two-count “Collective and Class Action Complaint,
” Plaintiff's first claim is a putative collective
action brought pursuant to the FLSA, and his second claim is
a putative class action brought pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 23 to enforce the OPPA. On behalf of himself
and the members of the putative plaintiff class, Plaintiff
seeks to recover unpaid wages and liquidated damages under
the FLSA, and liquidated damages under the OPPA.
OPPA claim is the subject of the present Partial Motion to
Dismiss, which Defendant filed on April 5, 2017. (ECF No. 8,
Def.'s Mot.) Plaintiff filed a Response on April 26, 2017
(ECF No. 12), and Defendant filed a timely Reply (ECF No.
13). The Court held a hearing on the Motion on May 26, 2017.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows for the dismissal of
a case where the complaint fails to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted. When reviewing a motion to dismiss
under Rule 12(b)(6), a court must “construe the
complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff,
accept its allegations as true, and draw all reasonable
inferences in favor of the plaintiff.” Handy-Clay
v. City of Memphis, 695 F.3d 531, 538 (6th Cir. 2012).
state a claim, a complaint must provide a “short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). “[T]he
complaint ‘does not need detailed factual
allegations' but should identify ‘more than labels
and conclusions.'” Casias v. Wal-Mart Stores,
Inc., 695 F.3d 428, 435 (6th Cir. 2012) (quoting
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007)). The court “need not accept as true a legal
conclusion couched as a factual allegation, or an unwarranted
factual inference.” Handy-Clay, 695 F.3d at
539 (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).
other words, a plaintiff must provide more than
“formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action” and his or her “[factual allegations must
be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-56. The Sixth
Circuit has recently reiterated that “[t]o survive a
motion to dismiss, a litigant must allege enough facts to
make it plausible that the defendant bears legal liability.
The facts cannot make it merely possible that the defendant
is liable; they must make it plausible.” Agema v.
City of Allegan, 826 F.3d 326, 331 (6th Cir. 2016)
(citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
its Partial Motion to Dismiss, Defendant seeks dismissal of
Plaintiffs OPPA claim, arguing that the Ohio statute does not
entitle a plaintiff to liquidated damages where the reason
that the alleged unpaid wages were not paid is a dispute over
whether they were in fact owed. ...