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Juan Su, et al v. Guang Yang Li

August 1, 2011

JUAN SU, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
GUANG YANG LI, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cooper, District Judge

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

MEMORANDUM OPINION

The plaintiffs, Juan Su and Gui Ying Yin (collectively, "the plaintiffs"), commenced this action against the defendants, Guang Yang Li, Linna Wu, and Wellness and Reflexology Center LLC ("Wellness") (collectively, "the defendants"), alleging that they are entitled to recover unpaid minimum wages, overtime, liquidated damages, and attorneys' fees pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., and the New Jersey Wage and Hour Law ("NJWHL"), N.J.S.A. § 34:11-56 et seq. (Dkt. entry no. 1, Compl.) The defendants now move to dismiss the Complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(1), and for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). (Dkt. entry no. 8, Mot. to Dismiss.)

The plaintiffs have not submitted a response to the defendants' motion to dismiss. Even if a motion to dismiss is unopposed, however, we must still address the motion on its merits. See Jones v. Unemployment Comp. Bd. of Review, 381 Fed.Appx. 187, 189 (3d Cir. 2010); Stackhouse v. Mazurkiewicz, 951 F.2d 29, 30 (3d Cir. 1991). The Court decides the motion on the papers without an oral hearing, pursuant to Rule 78(b). For the foregoing reasons, the Court will deny the motion.

BACKGROUND

The plaintiffs allege that they both worked as masseuses at Wellness. (Compl. at ¶¶ 16, 20.) Plaintiff Su claims to have worked at Wellness from September 2008 through March 13, 2010, and plaintiff Yin claims to have worked at Wellness from March 1, 2009, through April 7, 2010. (Id. at ¶¶ 16-17, 20-21.) The plaintiffs state that defendant Li is the "Chairman or Chief Executive Officer" of Wellness, and defendant Wu is a "shareholder and [m]anager" of Wellness. (Id. at ¶¶ 8-9.) The plaintiffs contend that defendants Li and Wu had the power to hire and fire employees and determine employee compensation and work schedules, and as such are "employers" under the FLSA. (Id. at ¶ 10.) The plaintiffs both claim to have worked over forty hours per week, and over ten hours per day, and that the defendants "knowingly and willingly" failed to pay both minimum wage and overtime pay pursuant to the FLSA and NJWHL. (Id. at ¶¶ 18-19, 22-25.) The plaintiffs further allege that the defendants failed to inform the plaintiffs of their rights under the FLSA and NJWHL. (Id. at ¶ 39.) The plaintiffs seek a judgment declaring that the defendants' practices are unlawful under the FLSA and NJWHL, as well as an award of unpaid minimum wages, unpaid overtime compensation, liquidated damages, and attorneys' fees and costs. (Id. at ¶¶ 1-2.)

DISCUSSION

I. Applicable Legal Standards

A. Fair Labor Standards Act

The FLSA provides, in those industries within its scope, minimum labor standards by regulating, inter alia, wages, hours, and overtime compensation. It provides two types of coverage to employees: (1) individual coverage and (2) enterprise coverage. Genarie v. PRD Mgmt., No. 04-2082, 2006 WL 436733, at *5 (D.N.J. Feb. 17, 2006). Employees are covered under the individual coverage provision if they are "engaged in commerce or in the production of goods in commerce." Id. Commerce is defined as "trade, commerce, transportation, transmission, or communication among the several States or between the State and any place outside thereof." 29 U.S.C. § 203(b).

Employees fall within the enterprise coverage provision if they are "employed in an enterprise engaged in commerce or the production of goods for commerce." Genarie, 2006 WL 436733, at *5. An enterprise under the FLSA must have "employees engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce, or [have] employees handling, selling, or otherwise working on goods or materials that have been moved in or produced for commerce by any person; and . . . [must have an] annual volume of sales made or business [that] is not less than $500,000." 29 U.S.C. § 203(s)(1)(A)(i)-(ii). To constitute an enterprise, "the business must (1) be engaged in related activities, (2) under unified operation or common control, and (3) have a common business purpose." Genarie, 2006 WL 436733, at *5. If the plaintiff demonstrates that the employer is an enterprise engaged in commerce, all of that enterprise's employees will be covered by the FLSA. Id.

B. Rule 12(b)(1) Standard

A defendant may move to dismiss a claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). Such motion may be made at any time. Iwanowa v. Ford Motor Co., 67 F.Supp.2d 424, 437-38 (D.N.J. 1999). The defendant may facially challenge subject matter jurisdiction by arguing that the complaint, on its face, does not allege sufficient grounds to establish subject matter jurisdiction. Id. at 438. Under this standard, a court assumes that the allegations in the complaint are true, and may dismiss the complaint only if it appears to a certainty that the plaintiff will not be able to assert a colorable claim of subject matter jurisdiction. Cardio-Med. Assoc., Ltd. v. Crozer-Chester Med. Ctr., 721 F.2d 68, 75 (3d Cir. 1983); Iwanowa, 67 F.Supp.2d at 438.

A defendant can also attack subject matter jurisdiction by factually challenging the jurisdictional allegations set forth in the complaint. Iwanowa, 67 F.Supp.2d at 438. Under this standard, "no presumptive truthfulness attaches to plaintiff's allegations and the existence of disputed material facts will not preclude the Court from evaluating for itself the merits of jurisdictional claims." Pashun v. Modero, No. 92-3620, 1993 WL 185323, at *2 (D.N.J. May 26, 1993). The Court may consider affidavits, depositions, and testimony to resolve factual issues and is free to weigh the evidence and satisfy itself as to the existence of its power to hear the case. Iwanowa, 67 F.Supp.2d at 438. The defendant may factually attack subject matter jurisdiction at any stage in the ...


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