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Hall v. Storm Team Construction Inc

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

June 1, 2018

Adam Phillip Hall, Plaintiff,
v.
Storm Team Construction Inc., Jesse Wright and Chad Simkins, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          A. Marvin Quattlebaum, Jr. United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss or, in the alternative, for a More Definite Statement, of Storm Team Construction Inc., Jesse Wright, and Chad Simkins, (“Defendants”). (ECF No. 5.) In his Complaint, Adam Philip Hall (“Plaintiff”) has alleged eight causes of action against Defendants: (1) failure to pay wages under the South Carolina Payment of Wages Act; (2) violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act; (3) breach of contract; (4) breach of contract accompanied by fraud; (5) conspiracy; (6) conversion; (7) quantum meruit; and (8) an accounting. (ECF No. 1.) Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth causes of action against Defendant Storm Team in its corporate form. Defendants also move to dismiss all claims against the defendants Simkins and Wright in their individual capacity or, in the alternative, Defendants move for a more definite statement as to the factual basis of Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Simkins and Wright. For the following reasons, the Court grants in part and denies in part Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and denies Defendants' Motion for a More Definite Statement as to the factual basis of Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Simkins and Wright.

         I. BACKGROUND

         According to the Complaint, Plaintiff Adam Phillip Hall (“Plaintiff”) is a citizen and resident of the County of Greenville, State of South Carolina. (ECF No. 1 ¶ 1.) Defendant Storm Team Construction Inc. (“Storm Team” or “Defendants”) is incorporated in the State of Georgia. Id. at ¶ 2. Defendant Chad Simkins (“Simkins”), a resident of Florida, is the Owner/President and CEO of Storm Team and Defendant Jesse Wright (“Wright”), a resident of Florida, is a National Sales Manager for Storm Team. Id. at ¶¶ 9, 10.

         Plaintiff alleged that on or about February 18, 2015, he was hired as project manager by Storm Team to canvass areas that have suffered storm damage and obtain contracts for repairs from homeowners. Id. at ¶ 15. Although Plaintiff was paid solely on a commission basis and signed a contract with Storm Team stating that he was an independent contractor, Plaintiff alleges that he was required to follow Defendants' instructions as to when, where and how to perform his work while holding himself out to the public as a project manager for Storm Team. Id. at ¶ 14.

         After Plaintiff's employment was terminated, he filed a complaint on March 19, 2018, in the Court of Common Pleas, County of Greenville, South Carolina. On the same day, Defendants removed case to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1446 based on diversity jurisdiction. Defendants filed the Motion described above on March 20, 2018. This Court held a hearing on Defendants' Motion on May 3, 2018.

         II. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim

         A plaintiff's complaint should set forth “a short and plain statement. . . showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). “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 Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “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. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556)). In considering a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a court “accepts all well-pled facts as true and construes these facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff . . . .” Nemet Chevrolet, Ltd. v. Consumeraffairs.com, Inc., 591 F.3d 250, 255 (4th Cir. 2009). However, a court “‘need not accept the [plaintiff's] legal conclusions drawn from the facts, ' nor need it ‘accept as true unwarranted inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or arguments.'” Philips v. Pitt Cty. Mem'l Hosp., 572 F.3d 176, 180 (4th Cir. 2009) (quoting Kloth v. Microsoft Corp., 444 F.3d 312, 319 (4th Cir. 2006)) (modification in original). A court should grant a Rule 12(b)(6) motion if, “after accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the plaintiff's complaint as true and drawing all reasonable factual inferences from those facts in the plaintiff's favor, it appears certain that the plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts in support of his claim entitling him to relief.” Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 244 (4th Cir. 1999).

         Motion for a More Definite Statement

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule12(e), “[a] party may move for a more definite statement of a pleading to which a responsive pleading is allowed but which is so vague or ambiguous that the party cannot reasonably prepare a response.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e). “Rule 12(e) must be read in conjunction with Rule 8.” Hodgson v. Virginia Baptist Hospital, Inc., 482 F.2d 821, 822 (4th Cir. 1973). Rule 8(a) only requires “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). As the Fourth Circuit has noted, “Rule 12(e) allows a defendant to move for a more definite statement if the complaint ‘is so vague or ambiguous that [he] cannot reasonably be required to frame a responsive pleading.'” Id. at 823.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Piercing the Corporate Veil Allegations as to Individual Defendants

         Defendants first move to dismiss each of Plaintiff's eight causes of action as to individual Defendants Simkins and Wright arguing that Plaintiff's Complaint fails to sufficiently allege facts to pierce the corporate veil. (ECF No. 5 at 3.) As an initial matter, piercing the corporate veil is not itself a cause of action, but instead is a means of imposing liability on an underlying claim. Shearson Lehman Hutton, Inc. v. Venners, 165 F.3d 912 (4th Cir. 1998) (per curiam); see also Thomas v. Peacock, 39 F.3d 493, 499 (4th Cir. 1994) (overruled on other grounds by Peacock v. Thomas, 516 U.S. 349\(1996)). A court may impose personal liability on an individual for the acts of a corporation as an equitable remedy. See Sturkie v. Sifly, 280 S.C. 453, 313 S.E.2d 316 (S.C. Ct. App. 1984). In Sturkie, the Court of Appeals of South Carolina set out a two-pronged test for courts to use in determining whether corporate entities should be disregarded. Id. at 318-19. The first part of the test, an eight-factor analysis, looks to observance of ...


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