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Browne v. P.A.M. Transport Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division

October 19, 2018

DAVID BROWNE; ANTONIO CALDWELL; and LUCRETIA HALL, on behalf of themselves and all those similarly situated PLAINTIFFS
v.
P.A.M. TRANSPORT, INC. DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          TIMOTHY L. BROOKS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Currently before the Court are:

• Defendant P.A.M. Transport Inc.'s ("PAM") Motion for Partial Dismissal and Brief in Support (Doc. 55); Plaintiffs David Browne's, Antonio Caldwell's, and Lucretia Hall's (collectively, "Plaintiffs") Memorandum of Law in Opposition (Doc. 67); and PAM's Reply Brief in Support (Doc. 77); and
• PAM's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Doc. 56) and Brief in Support (Doc. 57); Plaintiffs' Memorandum of Law in Opposition (Doc. 68); and PAM's Reply Brief in Support (Doc. 76).

         For the reasons given below, both Motions are DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs are individuals who worked for PAM as truck drivers. They have asserted a variety of claims against PAM in this case for alleged violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") and the Arkansas Minimum Wage Law ("AMWL"). See Doc. 7. Plaintiffs brought their claims as a putative collective action under the FMLA and a putative class action under Fed.R.Civ.P. 23. See Id. On May 8, 2017, this Court conditionally certified the collective action, see Doc. 19, and roughly three thousand individuals subsequently opted in as collective-action plaintiffs, see generally Docs. 21-39, 42-46. November 2, 2018 is the deadline for PAM to move for decertification of the collective action and for Plaintiffs to move for class certification under Rule 23. See Doc. 81.

         On May 24, 2018, PAM filed a Motion for Partial Dismissal under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). See Doc. 55. In that Motion, PAM seeks dismissal of all Plaintiffs' "sleeper berth" claims (which will be explained further below), and of the Arkansas state law claims brought by Plaintiffs Browne and Hall. The following day, PAM filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). See Doc. 56. In that Motion, PAM seeks dismissal of all claims by Plaintiff Caldwell along with 54 additional opt-in plaintiffs. Both of these motions have been fully briefed and await decision from this Court. The Court will address them both below, after reciting the applicable legal standard.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         As mentioned above, both Motions are brought under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). Although one is styled a "motion to dismiss" and the other is styled a "motion for judgment on the pleadings," the same legal standard applies to both. Specifically, motions for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) are governed by the same standard that governs Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss. See Westcott v. City of Omaha, 901 F.2d 1486, 1488 (8th Cir. 1990). To survive such a motion, a complaint must provide "a short and plain statement of the claim that [the plaintiff] is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The purpose of this requirement is to "give the defendant fair notice of what the .. . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). The Court must accept all of a complaint's factual allegations as true, and construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, drawing all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. See Ashley Cnty., Ark. v. Pfizer, Inc., 552 F.3d 659, 665 (8th Cir. 2009).

         However, the complaint "must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "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. "A pleading that offers 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.' Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders 'naked assertion[s]' devoid of 'further factual enhancement.'" Id. In other words, while "the pleading standard that Rule 8 announces does not require 'detailed factual allegations, '... it demands more than an unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Id.

         III. DISCUSSION

         Below, the Court will first discuss PAM's May 24 Motion for Partial Dismissal. Then the Court will take up PAM's May 25 Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings.

         A. PAM's May 24 Motion for Partial ...


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