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Shupe v. DBJ Enterprises, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

February 25, 2015

DEBRA DEANNA SHUPE, Plaintiff,
v.
DBJ ENTERPRISES, LLC, DENNY'S CORPORATION, DENNY'S, INC., DFO, LLC, and YONG BYNUM, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

WILLIAM L. OSTEEN, Jr., District Judge.

Debra Deanna Shupe ("Plaintiff") makes six claims for relief against Defendants DBJ Enterprises, LLC ("DBJ"), Denny's Corporation ("Denny's"), Denny's Inc. ("DI"), DFO, LLC ("DFO"), and Yong Bynum ("Bynum") (collectively "Defendants") in her Amended Complaint. (Doc. 15.) Those six claims allege: (1) Assault; (2) Battery; (3) False Imprisonment; (4) Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress; (5) Wrongful Termination; and (6) violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, codified as amended at 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. ("FLSA").

Presently before this court is a Second Motion to Dismiss submitted by Defendants. (Doc. 17.)[1] Plaintiff has submitted a Response (Doc. 19), and Defendants have submitted a Reply (Doc. 20). On January 15, 2015, this court entered an order that (1) notified the parties that this court was considering whether it could and, if so, should exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claims based on state law, and (2) asked the parties to file supplemental briefing on the issue. (Doc. 21.) Plaintiff and Defendants have both submitted briefs in response to this order. (Docs. 22, 23.)

Accordingly, Defendants' Second Motion to Dismiss is ripe for judgment, and for the reasons stated herein, Defendants' Second Motion to Dismiss will be granted in part and denied in part.

I. BACKGROUND

While considering Defendants' Second Motion to Dismiss, this court accepts as true all of the factual contentions made in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Doc. 15). See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A brief summary of those facts follows.

Plaintiff was a General Manager in a Denny's franchise restaurant (the "Restaurant") owned by Defendant DBJ and franchised by any or all of Defendants Denny's, DI, or DFO. (Am. Compl. (Doc. 15) ¶¶ 14-16.) At the time of the incidents outlined in the Amended Complaint, Defendant Bynum was the District Manager covering the Restaurant and was the co-owner of Defendant DBJ. (Id. ¶¶ 18-19.) Defendants Denny's, DI, and/or DFO have "Guiding Principles" and a "Code of Conduct" that govern the activities of all franchisees. (Id. ¶ 20.)

Defendant Bynum "constantly and consistently berated, humiliated, disrespected and mistreated" Plaintiff (id. ¶ 22), ultimately culminating in an altercation on February 8, 2014. (Id. ¶ 25.) During the altercation, Plaintiff quit her employment at the Restaurant. (Id. ¶ 28.) As Plaintiff attempted to leave, Defendant Bynum blocked the doorway and pulled the back of Plaintiff's jacket, causing injuries to Plaintiff. (Id. ¶¶ 29-39; Graham Police Department Incident/Investigation Report (Doc. 15-1) at 2-3.)

Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants did not pay Plaintiff for overtime work completed, often demanding that Plaintiff work double shifts in excess of eight hours per day for six to seven days per week - totaling up to 80 hours per week - without compensating Plaintiff accordingly. (Am. Compl. (Doc. 15) ¶¶ 91, 92, 94.) Additionally, one or all of Defendants forced Plaintiff to fill in for absent waitresses and log all sales under the names of those waitresses instead of under her own name. (Id. ¶¶ 95, 97.) Although she was nominally in a managerial role, Plaintiff alleges that she had no managerial authority and was treated, for all intents and purposes, as a non-managerial employee. (Id. ¶¶ 86-87.)

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Defendants have moved to dismiss Plaintiff's claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). In deciding a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), the trial court must accept factual allegations as true. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 91 (2007). A motion under Rule 12(b)(6) is proper when the complaint's factual allegations fail as a matter of law to state a plausible claim for relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. However, a court is not required to accept "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action supported by mere conclusory statements." Id.

Courts considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) generally cannot reach the legal adequacy of an affirmative defense, such as an affirmative assertion that a claim is barred by the statute of limitations. Goodman v. Praxair, Inc., 494 F.3d 458, 464 (4th Cir. 2007) (en banc). "But in the relatively rare circumstances where facts sufficient to rule on an affirmative defense are alleged in the complaint, the defense may be reached by a motion to dismiss filed under Rule 12(b)(6)." Id.; Suarez Corp. Indus. v. McGraw, 125 F.3d 222, 229 (4th Cir. 1997). In other words, in order to grant a motion to dismiss alleging an affirmative defense, the complaint must be self-defeating. See Goodman, 494 F.3d at 464 ("This principle only applies, however, if all facts necessary to the affirmative defense clearly appear[] on the face of the complaint.'" (alterations in original) (quoting Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac R.R. v. Forst, 4 F.3d 244, 250 (4th Cir. 1993))).

Additionally, a federal court must also, in every case, evaluate whether it has jurisdiction to hear the case. Davis v. Pak, 856 F.2d 648, 650 (4th Cir. 1988). Federal courts have original jurisdiction over all civil actions "arising under" federal law. 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Where federal courts lack such jurisdiction over a claim, those courts may exercise jurisdiction if there is diversity of citizenship between the parties, subject to the $75, 000 amount-in-controversy requirement, see 28 U.S.C. § 1332, or through supplemental jurisdiction where state and federal claims may be heard together, see 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

III. ANALYSIS

For the following reasons, this court finds that Plaintiff's First through Fifth Claims for Relief should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction but that Defendants' Second Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 17) should be denied as to Plaintiff's Sixth Claim. Because Plaintiff's Sixth Claim is based on federal law, this court analyzes ...


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