Martinez v. John Muir Health, No. 4:2017cv05779 - Document 31 (N.D. Cal. 2018)

Court Description: ORDER GRANTING IN PART DEFENDANTS MOTION TO DISMISS OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, FOR A MORE DEFINITE STATEMENT by Judge Claudia Wilken.(dtmS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 3/28/2018)
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Martinez v. John Muir Health Doc. 31 1 2 3 4 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 8 KAREN MARTINEZ, individually and on behalf of similarly situated individuals, United States District Court Northern District of California 9 10 11 Case No. 17-cv-05779-CW ORDER GRANTING IN PART DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, FOR A MORE DEFINITE STATEMENT Plaintiff, v. JOHN MUIR HEALTH, (Dkt. No. 14) 12 Defendant. 13 14 Plaintiff Karen Martinez, on behalf of a putative class, 15 brings this wage and hour suit against Defendant John Muir 16 Health. 17 pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). 18 alternative, Defendant moves for an order requiring Plaintiff to 19 provide a more definite statement pursuant to Federal Rule of 20 Civil Procedure 12(e). 21 Defendant filed a reply. 22 Defendant’s motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for a more 23 definite statement. 24 25 Defendant moves to dismiss Plaintiff’s complaint In the Plaintiff filed an opposition and The Court hereby GRANTS IN PART FACTUAL BACKGROUND Unless otherwise noted, the factual background is taken from 26 the allegations of the first amended complaint (FAC), which are 27 taken as true for purposes of this motion. 28 Docket No. 13 (FAC). Defendant is a non-profit corporation operating primarily in Dockets.Justia.com Contra Costa County. 2 Case Manager from May 1, 1997 to February 19, 2016. 3 hourly-paid, non-exempt employee earning $79.97 per hour at the 4 time of her termination. 5 discretionary bonuses from Defendant: (1) a “Success Sharing 6 Bonus,” which is a yearly bonus given to all non-exempt employees 7 based on Defendant’s financial success for the year; (2) a 8 “Certification Bonus,” which is a yearly bonus given to all non- 9 United States District Court Northern District of California 1 exempt employees whose job positions require a certification Plaintiff was employed by Defendant as a She was an She received the following non- 10 credential; and (3) a “Top Range Bonus,” which is a yearly bonus 11 given to all non-exempt employees who are at the top of the pay 12 scale and no longer receive yearly base rate wage increases. 13 Plaintiff’s regular work schedule was 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. 14 She alleges that, beginning in fall 2013, Defendant instituted 15 cost-cutting measures that increased the employee-to-patient 16 ratio. 17 to perform numerous work duties ‘off the clock’ so as to meet the 18 new patient metrics.” 19 would clock out at the end of the workday but would continue to 20 input patient notes and process insurance claims. 21 alleges that she worked off the clock each and every workday. 22 As a result, Plaintiff and other employees “were required For example, Plaintiff and other employees Plaintiff Plaintiff asserts that the amount of overtime she is due for 23 working off the clock can be calculated using certain electronic 24 systems used by Defendant. 25 EPIC and MIDAS, which Defendant’s employees use to record and 26 document patient care notes. 27 at which employees enter data into those systems. 28 requires employees to use another electronic system, KRONOS, to Defendant maintains two such systems, Both EPIC and MIDAS track the times 2 Defendant 1 clock in and out for purposes of timekeeping for payroll. 2 Plaintiff asserts that the amount of overtime she worked can be 3 calculated by comparing the time entries from EPIC and MIDAS with 4 the time entries in KRONOS. 5 required to work approximately 300 hours off the clock and thus 6 is owed approximately $30,000 in unpaid wages. 7 Plaintiff estimates that she was Plaintiff alleges that, despite knowing that Plaintiff and other employees were performing work off the clock and without 9 United States District Court Northern District of California 8 compensation, Defendant failed to prevent the performance of such 10 work. 11 as Plaintiff were working without compensation because 12 Defendant’s agents witnessed them doing so at Defendant’s 13 facility and because Defendant’s own electronic systems showed 14 that employees were working off the clock. 15 Plaintiff alleges that Defendant knew that employees such Plaintiff also regularly worked more than five hours without 16 taking a meal or rest period. 17 and other employees from taking meal or rest periods by 18 emphasizing (such as in performance reviews) that the patient is 19 the primary focus of the team and that employees must provide 20 competent, compassionate, and timely care. 21 Defendant discouraged Plaintiff Plaintiff filed this suit on October 6, 2017. Docket No. 1. 22 Sometime after Plaintiff filed suit, the parties scheduled a 23 mediation to attempt to resolve this case.1 Defendant 24 1 25 26 27 28 In her opposition to the present motion, Plaintiff refers to information Defendant provided in furtherance of the mediation. See Opp at 4; see generally Declaration of Joshua D. Buck (Buck Decl.). Defendant argues that this violates Rule 408, which prohibits statements made during compromise negotiations used for the purpose of proving or disproving the validity or amount of a disputed claim. Accordingly, the Court does not consider this information. 3 unilaterally withdrew from the mediation three days before the 2 scheduled date. 3 began calling current employees into “interrogation sessions” 4 where it offered “nuisance value” to employees owed significant 5 damages. 6 requesting them to waive their claims for a net sum of $1,000 per 7 employee. 8 of overtime owed each employee. 9 United States District Court Northern District of California 1 letters are invalid and violate the Fair Labor Standards Act 10 11 Buck Decl. ¶ 6. Shortly thereafter, Defendant Defendant presented these employees with a letter See FAC, Ex. 4. The letters do not provide the amount Plaintiff alleges that these (FLSA). On November 17, 2017, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss. 12 Docket No. 10. 13 motion, Plaintiff filed the FAC. 14 Civ. P. 15(a)(1)(B). 15 action: (1) failure to pay overtime wages in violation of the 16 FLSA, 29 U.S.C. § 207; (2) failure to pay minimum wages for all 17 hours worked; (3) failure to pay overtime wages for all hours 18 worked; (4) failure to provide meal and rest breaks; (5) failure 19 to provide accurate wage statements; (6) failure to timely pay 20 all wages due; (7) recovery under the California Private Attorney 21 General Act (PAGA); (8) interfering with court process by failing 22 to disclose amounts due in negotiating individual settlements; 23 and (9) unfair business practices. 24 Defendant again moved to dismiss. 25 26 In lieu of filing an opposition to Defendant’s Docket No. 13; see also Fed. R. Plaintiff’s FAC alleges nine causes of On December 15, 2017, Docket No. 14. LEGAL STANDARD A complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the 27 claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” 28 Civ. P. 8(a). Fed. R. The plaintiff must proffer “enough facts to state 4 a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” 2 Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. 3 Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). 4 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim, dismissal is appropriate 5 only when the complaint does not give the defendant fair notice 6 of a legally cognizable claim and the grounds on which it rests. 7 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. 8 the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to 9 United States District Court Northern District of California 1 draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for 10 the misconduct alleged.” 11 Ashcroft v. On a motion under Rule A claim is facially plausible “when Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. In considering whether the complaint is sufficient to state 12 a claim, the court will take all material allegations as true and 13 construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. 14 Metzler Inv. GMBH v. Corinthian Colleges, Inc., 540 F.3d 1049, 15 1061 (9th Cir. 2008). 16 of the complaint, materials incorporated into the complaint by 17 reference, and facts of which the court may take judicial notice. 18 Id. at 1061. 19 conclusions, including threadbare “recitals of the elements of a 20 cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements.” 21 Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). 22 The court’s review is limited to the face However, the court need not accept legal A party may also move for a more definite statement of a 23 complaint “which is so vague or ambiguous that the party cannot 24 reasonably prepare a response.” 25 motion “must point out the defects complained of and the details 26 desired.” Id. 27 28 Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(e). DISCUSSION I. Motion to Dismiss 5 The 1 2 Defendant moves to dismiss all nine asserted causes of action for failure to state a claim. 3 A. First, Second, and Third Causes of Action 4 Defendant first asserts that Plaintiff’s first, second, and third causes of action fail because they do not contain the 6 degree of specificity required to state claims for failure to pay 7 minimum or overtime wages under the FLSA and the California Labor 8 Code. 9 United States District Court Northern District of California 5 Cir. 2014), as amended (Jan. 26, 2015), the Ninth Circuit In Landers v. Quality Commc’ns, Inc., 771 F.3d 638 (9th 10 considered this issue with respect to the FLSA for the first time 11 post-Twombly and Iqbal. 12 order to survive a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must allege 13 that she worked more than forty hours in a given workweek without 14 being compensated for the overtime hours worked during that 15 workweek.” 16 detailed facts are not required and that the pleading should be 17 “evaluated in the light of judicial experience.” 18 Moreover, the plausibility of a claim is “context-specific.” 19 A plaintiff may establish a plausible claim in a number of ways, 20 for example, “by estimating the length of her average workweek 21 during the applicable period and the average rate at which she 22 was paid, the amount of overtime wages she believes she is owed, 23 or any other facts that will permit the court to find 24 plausibility.” 25 the number of overtime hours she worked, however. 26 Circuit noted this was unnecessary: “After all, most (if not all) 27 of the detailed information concerning a plaintiff-employee's Id. at 641. Id. at 644-45. Id. The court held that, “in The court warned, however, that Id. at 645. Id. A plaintiff is not required to approximate 28 6 Id. The Ninth 1 compensation and schedule is in the control of the defendants.” 2 Id. 3 Here, Plaintiff has alleged sufficient facts to “nudge[] [her] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.” 5 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. 6 overtime for the time spent inputting information into EPIC and 7 MIDAS that occurred after she had clocked out of KRONOS. 8 further explains that her base rate of pay was too low because it 9 United States District Court Northern District of California 4 did not include certain non-discretionary bonuses that she Plaintiff explains that she is owed She 10 received. 11 workweek, the rate at which she was paid, and the amount of 12 overtime wages she believes she is owed, as well as numerous 13 other supporting details. 14 provides Defendant with adequate notice of her first three causes 15 of action. 16 language of the FLSA,” as Defendant suggests. 17 at 643 (citing Dejesus v. HF Management Services, 726 F.3d 85, 89 18 (2d Cir. 2013)). 19 Plaintiff also estimated the length of her average Accordingly, Plaintiff’s complaint Plaintiff does not merely “parrot the statutory Landers, 771 F.3d Defendant also contends that Plaintiff does not sufficiently 20 allege that Defendant knew or should have known that Plaintiff 21 and others were working off the clock. 22 Superior Court, 53 Cal. 4th 1004, 1051 (2012) (noting that 23 “liability is contingent on proof [the defendant] knew or should 24 have known off-the-clock work was occurring.”). 25 specifically alleges that Defendant and its agents observed 26 Plaintiff and other employees inputting information into EPIC and 27 MIDAS after their shifts ended. 28 Defendant maintains records that would show that Plaintiff and Brinker Rest. Corp. v. But Plaintiff Plaintiff also alleges that 7 1 others were not being compensated for overtime, i.e., the EPIC, 2 MIDAS, and KRONOS time entries. 3 Plaintiff need not allege more. Defendant additionally asserts that Plaintiff’s complaint does not state why Plaintiff did not clock overtime for the 5 additional time she spent inputting information into EPIC and 6 MIDAS, despite the fact that she knew how. 7 pay stub Plaintiff attached to her complaint, which shows that 8 she clocked overtime and received compensation for that overtime. 9 United States District Court Northern District of California 4 But Plaintiff alleges in her complaint that Defendant instituted Defendant points to a 10 cost-cutting measures that increased the employee-to-patient 11 ratio. 12 to perform numerous work duties ‘off the clock’ so as to meet the 13 new patient metrics.” 14 all appropriate inferences in Plaintiff’s favor, the Court finds 15 that Plaintiff adequately alleges that she felt pressured by 16 Defendant’s policies to input information into EPIC and MIDAS 17 after hours, without tracking it as overtime. 18 Plaintiff is not required under the relevant statutes or Landers 19 to explain exactly why she did not clock overtime, even though 20 doing so may increase the plausibility of her claim. 21 only allege that she worked overtime without being compensated 22 and that Defendant knew or should have known of this fact. 23 Because Plaintiff has already done so, Defendant’s argument on 24 this point is not persuasive. As a result, Plaintiff and other employees “were required Considering these allegations and making Moreover, She must 25 B. Fourth Cause of Action 26 Defendant asserts that Plaintiff’s fourth cause of action 27 for failure to provide meal and rest breaks also fails to state a 28 claim. Specifically, Defendant argues that Plaintiff 8 1 insufficiently explains “how or why Plaintiff and the proposed 2 class were deprived of meal breaks” and instead “recites only the 3 statutory language.” 4 Motion at 8. Plaintiff, however, does allege that Defendant discouraged taking rest and lunch breaks by emphasizing in performance 6 reviews and policies that patient care should be the priority. 7 Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant instituted cost-cutting 8 measures that increased the employee-to-patient ratio, which 9 United States District Court Northern District of California 5 interfered with taking rest and lunch breaks. Making all 10 inferences in Plaintiff’s favor, this is sufficient to state a 11 claim. 12 C. 13 With respect to Plaintiff’s fifth cause of action for 14 Fifth Cause of Action failure to provide accurate wage statements, Defendant asserts 15 that Plaintiff does not say what was unlawful about Defendant’s 16 17 18 wage statements. But Plaintiff explains in her first through fourth causes of action how she was underpaid, and she alleges 19 that other employees were similarly underpaid. 20 to Plaintiff’s allegations, Defendant issued incorrect wage 21 statements reflecting the underpaid amount. 22 acknowledge, this cause of action depends on Plaintiff’s first 23 through fourth causes of action. Thus, according As both parties Because those claims survive 24 Defendant’s motion to dismiss, Plaintiff’s fifth claim also 25 26 27 28 survives. D. Sixth, Seventh, and Ninth Causes of Action Defendant challenges that Plaintiff’s sixth, seventh, and 9 1 ninth causes of action are not sufficiently plead. 2 Plaintiff’s fifth cause of action, the parties agree that these 3 claims are derivative of Plaintiff’s other claims. 4 because Plaintiff’s other claims survive, these claims also 5 survive. As with Again, 6 E. Eighth Cause of Action 7 At the hearing, Plaintiff clarified that her eighth cause of action seeks declaratory judgment that settlements and releases 9 United States District Court Northern District of California 8 obtained by Defendant from putative class members should be 10 invalidated. 11 action fails because it is (1) unripe and (2) insufficiently 12 plead. 13 Defendant asserts that Plaintiff’s eighth cause of Defendant argues that this cause of action is not ripe 14 because the FAC does not allege that Plaintiff was offered an 15 individual settlement or release. 16 this claim is “too speculative for resolution” because it rests 17 upon a series of contingencies; namely, that Defendant will seek 18 to enforce a settlement against a signatory who opts into the 19 FLSA class. 20 1289 (9th Cir. 1990). 21 similar, but distinct, constitutional concern: standing. 22 well-established that “if none of the named plaintiffs purporting 23 to represent a class establishes the requisite of a case or 24 controversy with the defendants, none may seek relief on behalf 25 of himself or any other member of the class.” 26 Littleton, 414 U.S. 488, 494 (1974). 27 action adds nothing to the question of standing, for even named 28 plaintiffs who represent a class must allege and show that they Thus, Defendant argues that W. Oil & Gas Ass’n v. Sonoma Cty., 905 F.2d 1287, Defendant’s argument actually raises a 10 It is O’Shea v. “That a suit may be a class personally have been injured, not that injury has been suffered 2 by other, unidentified members of the class to which they belong 3 and which they purport to represent.” 4 343, 357 (1996) (internal quotation marks and alterations 5 omitted). 6 974, 985 (9th Cir. 2007) (in “a class action, standing is 7 satisfied if at least one named plaintiff meets the 8 requirements.”). 9 United States District Court Northern District of California 1 waiver.” Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. See also Bates v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., 511 F.3d Standing is “jurisdictional and not subject to Lewis, 518 U.S. at 349. Because Plaintiff does not 10 allege that she herself received or signed an offer to settle, 11 she lacks standing to bring the eighth cause of action. 12 the eighth cause of action is dismissed. 13 to amend to renew this claim if Plaintiff timely joins a named 14 co-plaintiff who suffered the injury described in the eighth 15 cause of action. 16 from bringing a motion for corrective action to protect the 17 rights of potential class members, which Plaintiff appears to 18 have done. 19 II. 20 Thus, The Court grants leave This dismissal also does not preclude Plaintiff See Docket No. 24. Motion for More Definite Statement With respect to the first through seventh and the ninth 21 causes of action, Defendant’s motion for a more definite 22 statement pursuant to Rule 12(e) is denied for the reasons given 23 for denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss. 24 eighth cause of action, Defendant’s motion for a more definite 25 statement is denied as moot. 26 With respect to the CONCLUSION 27 Defendant’s motion to dismiss is DENIED with respect to the 28 first through seventh and the ninth causes of action and GRANTED 11 1 without prejudice with respect to the eighth cause of action. 2 The Court grants leave to amend to renew this claim if Plaintiff 3 timely joins a named co-plaintiff who suffered the injury 4 described in the eighth cause of action. 5 a more definite statement is DENIED. 6 Defendant’s motion for IT IS SO ORDERED. 7 8 Dated: March 28, 2018 CLAUDIA WILKEN United States District Judge United States District Court Northern District of California 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 12