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Seagram v. David's Towing & Recovery, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

October 20, 2014

COLBY G. SEAGRAM, Plaintiff,
v.
DAVID'S TOWING & RECOVERY, INC., et al., Defendants

Decided: October 17, 2014.

Page 468

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 469

For Colby G. Seagram, Plaintiff: Douglas R Burtch, LEAD ATTORNEY, Jack Willard Burtch, Jr., Macaulay & Burtch PC, Richmond, VA.

For David's Towing & Recovery, Inc., Stacey Wilbourne, Marie Wilbourne, Defendant: David R. Simonsen, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, Richmond, VA.

Page 470

MEMORANDUM OPINION

James R. Spencer, Senior United Stated District Judge.

THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (" Motion" ) (ECF No. 7), pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and lack of subject matter jurisdiction with respect to Counts 3 and 4. The issues are fully briefed, and neither party sought a hearing. Accordingly, this matter is ripe for disposition. For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Defendants' Motion. Specifically, the Court DENIES the Motion as to Counts 1 and 2, but GRANTS the Motion as to Counts 3 and 4 and the punitive damages claim.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, Colby G. Seagram (" Seagram" ), is a former employee of Defendant, David's Towing & Recovery, Inc. (" David's Towing" ). Defendant Stacey Wilbourne is the owner of David's Towing and his wife, Defendant Marie Wilbourne, is the financial and human resources manager

Page 471

of David's Towing.[1] David's Towing is an entity that provides towing and recovery services.

Seagram worked for David's Towing from approximately April 2012 to April 2014. He was 19 years old when he began working there, and 21 years old when he left. Seagram was primarily a truck driver, although he performed other services as well. Each day the company dispatcher assigned Seagram vehicles to tow. He drove to the assigned vehicle, loaded it onto the tow truck, secured the vehicle to the truck, and transported the vehicle to the assigned ending destination, which could involve transporting the vehicle to another state.

Seagram was scheduled to work Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. However, he frequently worked longer as many tows involved driving long distances back to the Richmond area after reaching the end destination. In addition, Seagram was scheduled to work every other weekend as the " on call" tow truck driver, which involved Seagram responding to tow assignments all weekend for a 60 hour period (Friday evening at 7:00 p.m. to Monday morning at 7:00 a.m.). Seagram thus worked more than forty hours per workweek--he notes he averaged 75 hours per workweek.

David's Towing did not maintain records of the total number of hours Seagram worked nor did they maintain records regarding the basis on which wages were paid, the regular hourly pay rate, or the total overtime earnings for each workweek. Seagram and David's Towing never had a written agreement for a particular rate of pay. Rather, the " description" of his pay on his paycheck indicated " comm 1." [2]

During the course of his employment Seagram occasionally had to use his own money for certain expenses, including buying fuel for the tow truck. Additionally, Seagram would perform mechanical labor on the truck as necessary.

In early 2014, Seagram asked Stacey Wilbourne for a small personal loan to help cover his phone bill and rent. Mr. Wilbourne gave Seagram $150 cash for the phone bill, and $300 cash for rent. However, Seagram and Mr. Wilbourne never discussed how these loans would be repaid. On April 24, 2014, $200 was deducted from Seagram's paycheck and another $350 was deducted from his May 7, 2014 paycheck. Seagram alleges that these deductions were unauthorized. Furthermore, additional deductions were taken from Seagram's paycheck to cover the costs of the company's uniform that he was required to purchase.

Seagram left his employment in April 2014. David's Towing did not give him his last paycheck. Seagram argues that Defendants' behavior was knowing, willful, wanton, oppressive, and carried out with malice. His Complaint alleges four counts against Defendants. First, Seagram argues that David's Towing paid him less than minimum wage for the hours he worked for the company in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (" FLSA" ), 29 U.S.C. § 206. Second, he alleges that he was never paid any overtime pay for the hours he worked over forty in a given workweek in violation of 29 U.S.C. § 207.

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Third, Seagram alleges a claim for quantum meruit, based on the fact that he was not reasonably compensated for his towing and other services. Finally, fourth, Seagram alleges a claim of unjust enrichment on a similar basis.

Seagram requests that the Court enter an award of damages in an amount equal to the unpaid minimum wages and overtime compensation due to him as well as the improper deductions taken from his paychecks. Additionally, Seagram requests liquidated damages in an amount equal to the award of damages under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). Furthermore, Seagram requests the Court to enter a declaration that Defendants violated his rights under the FLSA. Finally, Seagram requests damages for the unjust enrichment of David's Towing, punitive damages based on his state law claims, and attorney's fees and costs incurred pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216(b).

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Dismissal for Failure to State a Claim

Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a defendant to raise a number of defenses to a complaint at the pleading stage, including failure to state a claim. A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted challenges the legal sufficiency of a claim, rather than the facts supporting it. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6); Goodman v. Praxair, Inc., 494 F.3d 458, 464 (4th Cir. 2007); Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992). A court ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion must accept all of the factual allegations in the complaint as true, see Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 244 (4th Cir. 1999); Warner v. Buck Creek Nursery, Inc., 149 F.Supp.2d 246, 254-55 (W.D. Va. 2001), in addition to any provable facts consistent with those allegations, Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73, 104 S.Ct. 2229, 81 L.Ed.2d 59 (1984), and must view these facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, Christopher v. Harbury, 536 U.S. 403, 406, 122 S.Ct. 2179, 153 L.Ed.2d 413 (2002).

To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain factual allegations sufficient to provide the defendant with " notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957)). Rule 8(a)(2) requires the complaint to allege facts showing that the plaintiff's claim is plausible, and these " [f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 & n.3. In other words, the plaintiff's complaint must consist of more than " a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" or " naked assertion[s] devoid of further factual enhancement." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (citations omitted). The Court need not accept legal conclusions that are presented as factual ...


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