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Void v. Orangeburg County Disabilities and Special Needs Board

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Orangeburg Division

January 29, 2015

Maliaka S. Void and Frederick Summers, Plaintiffs,
v.
Orangeburg County Disabilities and Special Needs Board, Defendant.

ORDER AND OPINION

MICHELLE CHILS, District Judge.

Plaintiffs Maliaka S. Void ("Void") and Frederick Summers ("Summers") (collectively "Plaintiffs") filed this action against their employer, Defendant Orangeburg County Disabilities and Special Needs Board ("OCDSNB"), alleging violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219, and the South Carolina Payment of Wages Act ("SCPWA"), S.C. Code Ann. §§ 41-10-10 to -110 (Supp. 2011). (ECF No. 1 at 4-7.)

This matter is before the court on OCDSNB's Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), 12(b)(6) and 12(c), on the grounds that (1) Plaintiffs' FLSA claim is barred by Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity and, as a result, the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction and (2) their SCPWA claim is preempted by the FLSA. (ECF No. 9.) Plaintiffs filed opposition to the Motion to Dismiss asserting in part that OCDSNB waived sovereign immunity. (ECF No. 19.) For the reasons set forth below, the court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART Defendant's Motion to Dismiss.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND TO PENDING MOTION

OCDSNB "is the administrative, planning, coordinating, and service delivery body" for Orangeburg County, South Carolina citizens with "disabilities and special needs, " including those with "mental retardation, related disabilities, head injuries, and spinal cord injuries." (ECF No. 9-1 at 1-2 (quoting S.C. Code Ann. § 44-20-385 (2014); citing Hedberg v. Darlington Cnty. Disabilities & Special Needs Bd., No. 95-3049, 1997 WL 787164, at *1 n.1 (4th Cir. Dec. 24, 1997)).) Plaintiffs are hourly employees of OCDSNB. (ECF No. 1-1 at 5 ¶ 15.)

On or about May 2, 2014, Plaintiffs filed an action in the Orangeburg County (South Carolina) Court of Common Pleas seeking monetary damages for alleged violations of the FLSA (Count 1) and SCPWA (Count 2). (Id. at 4-7.) On June 4, 2014, OCDSNB removed the matter to this court on the basis of federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1132(e). (ECF No. 1.) Specifically, OCDSNB asserted removal was appropriate "[b]ecause this matter involves a claim for money under federal laws and regulations..." pursuant to the FLSA. (Id. at 2 ¶ 3.) After removing the matter, OCDSNB filed an Answer on June 4, 2014, an Amended Answer on June 25, 2014, and the aforementioned Motion to Dismiss also on June 25, 2014. (ECF Nos. 4, 8, 9.) In response to OCDSNB's Motion to Dismiss, Plaintiffs filed a Memorandum and Response to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss on July 23, 2014, to which OCDSNB filed a Reply in Support of Motion to Dismiss on August 4, 2014. (ECF Nos. 19, 20.)

Thereafter, on November 11, 2014, the court held a hearing to allow the parties to orally present their positions on the pending Motion to Dismiss. (ECF No. 30.)

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A. Motions to Dismiss Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1)

A Rule 12(b)(1) motion for lack of subject matter jurisdiction raises the fundamental question of whether a court has jurisdiction to adjudicate the matter before it. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). "Federal courts are courts of limited subject matter jurisdiction, and as such there is no presumption that the court has jurisdiction." Pinkley, Inc. v. City of Fredrick, Md., 191 F.3d 394, 399 (4th Cir. 1999). Unless a matter involves an area of a federal court's exclusive jurisdiction, a plaintiff may bring suit in federal court only if the matter involves a federal question arising "under the Constitution, laws or treatises of the United States, " 28 U.S.C. § 1331, or if "the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between citizens of different states, " 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). In determining whether jurisdiction exists, the court is to "regard the pleadings' allegations as mere evidence on the issue, and may consider evidence outside the pleadings without converting the proceeding to one for summary judgment." Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac R.R. Co. v. United States, 945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th Cir. 1991) (citing Adams v. Bain, 697 F.2d 1213, 1219 (4th Cir. 1982)). "The moving party should prevail only if the material jurisdictional facts are not in dispute and the moving party is entitled to prevail as a matter of law." Id . (citation omitted). "[W]here a party challenges the subject matter jurisdiction of the court on the grounds that the party is an arm of the state entitled to sovereign immunity, the burden of persuasion lies with the party asserting the immunity." Hutto v. S.C. Ret. Sys., 899 F.Supp.2d 457, 466 (D.S.C. 2012) (citing Woods v. Rondout Valley Cent. Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ., 466 F.3d 232, 237 (2d Cir. 2006)).

B. Motions to Dismiss Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)

A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted "challenges the legal sufficiency of a complaint." Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 192 (4th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted); see also Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir.1992) ("A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6)... does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses."). To be legally sufficient a pleading must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion should not be granted unless it appears certain that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts that would support her claim and would entitle her to relief. Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993). When considering a motion to dismiss, the court should accept as true all well-pleaded allegations and should view the complaint in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. Ostrzenski v. Seigel, 177 F.3d 245, 251 (4th Cir. 1999); Mylan Labs., Inc., 7 F.3d at 1134. "To survive a motion to dismiss, a 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 Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 ...


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