United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
MICHELLE WARNER, Individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated PLAINTIFF
LITTLE JOHN TRANSPORTATION SERVICES, INC.; CHRISTOPHER DALE; STEVEN DALE DEFENDANTS
OPINION AND ORDER
HOLMES, III, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Defendants' motion (Doc. 19) for partial
dismissal of Plaintiff's claim for declaratory relief and
a brief (Doc. 20) in support of their motion. Plaintiff filed
a response (Doc. 32) in opposition and Defendants filed a
reply (Doc. 35) with leave of Court. Defendants seek
dismissal of Plaintiff's claim for declaratory relief
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack
of subject matter jurisdiction or, alternatively, under Rule
12(b)(6) for lack of supplemental jurisdiction. The motion
will be GRANTED.
filed this action on March 1, 2019 alleging that Defendants
failed to pay to her overtime compensation in violation of
the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C.
§ 201, et seq. and the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act
(“AMWA”), Ark. Code Ann. § 11-4-201, et seq.
Additionally, Plaintiff brings a claim under the Arkansas
Uniform Declaratory Judgment Act, Ark. Code Ann. §
16-111-101, et seq. and the Declaratory Judgement Act, 28
U.S.C. § 2201 seeking a finding that the noncompetition
agreements Little John Transportation, Inc. (“Little
John”) requires its employees to sign are unenforceable
and void. Defendants contend that Plaintiff's claim for
declaratory relief must be dismissed because Plaintiff fails
to allege a sufficient factual basis to show the existence of
an actual case or controversy.
III of the United States Constitution confers jurisdiction in
federal courts over cases and controversies. U.S. Const.,
Art. III, § 2. In the context of a declaratory judgment
action, an actual controversy exists if, “there is a
substantial controversy, between parties having adverse legal
interests, of sufficient immediacy and reality to warrant the
issuance of a declaratory judgment.” Maryland Cas.
Co. v. Pac. Coal & Oil Co., 312 U.S. 270, 273
(1974). The controversy must “be ‘real and
substantial' and ‘admit of specific relief through
a decree of a conclusive character, as distinguished from an
opinion advising what the law would be upon a hypothetical
set of facts.'” MedImmune, Inc. v. Genentech,
Inc., 549 U.S. 118, 127 (2007) (quoting Aetna Life
Ins. Co. v. Haworth, 300 U.S. 227, 240-41 (1937))
(internal alterations omitted).
plaintiff seeking a declaratory judgment as to the validity
of a noncompete agreement must allege that a party has
actively pursued a course of conduct which will necessarily
lead to litigation of the agreement's validity. See
Lyman v. St. Jude Medical S.C., Inc., 423 F.Supp.2d 902,
906 (E.D. Wis. 2006) (“[The plaintiffs] never claimed
that they were taking any steps to compete with St. Jude.
Also . . . [they] never alleged that St. Jude threatened
suit, or even that St. Jude ever claimed that they breached
the non-compete provision. . . . It appears, therefore, that
[plaintiffs'] claim for declaratory relief is not ripe
for adjudication.”); see also Bruhn v. STP
Corp., 312 F.Supp. 903, 907 (D. Col. 1970) (“In
the present dispute, there has been no threat of suit by the
defendant, nor has the defendant claimed that any action
hereto taken by plaintiffs has resulted or will result in the
immediate future in a breach of the covenant.”).
Plaintiff does not allege that she is taking steps to secure
employment with a competitor of Little John. Nor does she
allege that Little John threatened to enforce the noncompete
agreement, or that Little John claimed that she breached the
agreement. Rather, Plaintiff asserts that employees are
either threatened with termination by the language of the
agreement or terminated if they request a signed copy of the
noncompetition agreement. (Doc. 32, pp. 3-4). Plaintiff does
not seek a declaration regarding this alleged practice, but
instead requests a ruling on the agreement's validity.
Plaintiff's allegations fail to show a course of conduct
that will necessarily lead to litigation over validity of the
agreement. Therefore, any order on the validity of the
agreement would be nothing more than an advisory opinion. The
Court lacks jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claim for
THEREFORE ORDERED that Defendants' motion (Doc. 19) to
dismiss is GRANTED. Plaintiff's claim for a declaratory
judgment as to the enforceability of the ...