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Smith v. Guidant Global, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

December 11, 2019

Chadwick Smith, Plaintiff,
v.
Guidant Global Inc., et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS AMENDED COMPLAINT [10]

          Hon. Gerswhin A. Drain United States District Judge.

         I. Introduction

         On August 6, 2019, 2019, Plaintiff Chadwick Smith (“Plaintiff”) filed the instant collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) for unpaid overtime against Defendant Guidant Global, Inc. See ECF No. 1. On September 18, 2019, Plaintiff amended his Complaint to add Defendant Guidant Group, Inc. See ECF No. 8.

         Presently before the Court is Defendants' Guidant Global, Inc. and Guidant Group, Inc. (together, the “Defendants”) Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint, filed on October 2, 2019. ECF No. 10. Plaintiff filed a Response on October 23, 2019. ECF No. 15. Defendants filed their Reply on November 6, 2019. ECF No. 16. A hearing on Defendants' Motion was held on December 10, 2019. For the reasons that follow, the Court will DENY Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint [#10] as it relates to the issue of joint employment relationship status. Further, the Court finds the consent issue of Defendants' Motion MOOT.

         II. Factual Background

         Plaintiff asserts that he was an hourly employee for Defendants from approximately 2011 until 2017, working as a Coordinator in Owensville and Edwardsport, Indiana. ECF No. 8, PageID.25, 27. He maintains that he reported his hours to Defendants on a regular basis. Id. at PageID.27. According to Plaintiff, he and the “Putative Class Members” regularly worked over forty hours in a week. Id. In fact, Plaintiff alleges that he “routinely worked 60 to 90 hours per week.” Id. Plaintiff asserts in his Amended Complaint that Defendants paid him and the “Putative Class Members” according to an illegal “straight time for overtime” payment scheme in violation of the FLSA. Id. at PageID.28. Plaintiff seeks to recover unpaid overtime and other damages due to him and the “Putative Class Members” in this collective action. Id. at PageID.24.

         Defendant Guidant Global, Inc. is a Michigan corporation that maintains its headquarters in Southfield, Michigan. Id. at PageID.25. Defendant Guidant Group, Inc. is a foreign corporation that conducts business and is headquartered in Michigan. Id. Together, Defendants maintain that they have no record of Plaintiff working for them “as a W-2 employee.” ECF No. 10, PageID.271 n.1. They contend that Plaintiff is instead “an employee and/or an independent contractor” for a staffing agency, Warren Steele & Associates. Id. Defendant Guidant Group, Inc. purportedly “helped to facilitate three different assignments of [Plaintiff], ” as an employee and/or independent contractor of Warren Steel & Associates, by “lending administrative support.”[1] Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants are a “single enterprise” under “common control” with a “common business purpose, ” as they complement and depend on each other to “operate, staff, and otherwise satisfy their obligations.” ECF No. 8, PageID.25. Further, he asserts that Defendants “control the terms, methods, and types of pay” which he and other “Putative Class Members” receive. Id. at PageID.27.

         Plaintiff commenced this collective action under the FSLA only against Defendant Guidant Global, Inc. See ECF No. 1. He attached his “Consent to Join Wage Claim” against Defendant Guidant Group, Inc. to his initial Complaint. Id. at PageID.10. On September18, 2019, Plaintiff amended his Complaint to also include Defendant Guidant Group, Inc. See ECF No. 8. On October 22, 2019, Plaintiff filed his additional consent to participate in this collective action lawsuit against Defendant Guidant Global, Inc. See ECF No. 14, PageID.286.

         Defendants filed their instant Motion on October 2, 2019. ECF No. 10. They argue that Plaintiff's Amended Complaint should be dismissed for two reasons: (1) that Plaintiff's consent form is defective as to Defendant Guidant Global, Inc. because it only names Defendant Guidant Group, Inc.; and (2) that Plaintiff failed to adequately plead a “joint employment relationship” such that Defendant Guidant Group, Inc. plausibly could be considered his employer. Id. at PageID.269. Plaintiff opposed Defendants' Motion on October 23, 2019, asserting that Defendants' first claim is now moot and contending that he did adequately plead Defendant Guidant Group, Inc. as his employer. ECF No. 15, PageID.293. Defendants filed their Reply to Plaintiff's opposition on November 6, 2019. ECF No. 16.

         III. Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows the court to make an assessment as to whether the plaintiff has stated a claim upon which relief may be granted. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). To withstand a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must comply with the pleading requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2). See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009). Rule 8(a)(2) requires “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quotation marks omitted) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2); Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). To meet this standard, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570; see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-80 (applying the plausibility standard articulated in Twombly).

         When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court must construe the complaint in a light most favorable to the plaintiff and accept all of his factual allegations as true. Lambert v. Hartman, 517 F.3d 433, 439 (6th Cir. 2008). While courts are required to accept the factual allegations in a complaint as true, Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, the presumption of truth does not apply to a claimant's legal conclusions. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Therefore, to survive a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff's pleading for relief must provide “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Ass'n of Cleveland Fire Fighters v. City of Cleveland, 502 F.3d 545, 548 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555) (internal citations and quotations omitted).

         IV. ...


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