United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
RANDOLPH D. MOSS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Oscar Murcia, Julio Cesar Chavez, Victor Garcia, Rafael
Gonzalez, Jose Luis Cardona, and Franklin Puerta brought this
action in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia
under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the D.C. Minimum Wage
Revision Act, and the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia wage
payment laws. Dkt. 1-2 at 4-7 (Compl. ¶¶ 8-31).
Plaintiffs allege that Defendants-A Capital Electric
Contractors, Inc. and its president, Olga Gonzalez- failed to
pay overtime wages over a period of several years from 2013
to 2016. Dkt. 1-2 at 3 (Compl. ¶ 6). Defendants timely
removed the action to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1441, Dkt. 1, and now move to dismiss for improper venue and
failure to state a claim, Dkt. 8. For the reasons explained
below, the Court will deny that motion.
purposes of the pending motion, the Court must accept
Plaintiffs' allegations as true. See Wood v.
Moss, __U.S.__, 134 S.Ct. 2056, 2065-67 & n.5,
(2014) (Rule 12(b)(6)); Laukus v. United States, 691
F.Supp.2d 119, 125 (D.D.C. 2010) (Rule 12(b)(3)).
to the complaint, Defendant A Capital Electric Contractors,
Inc. is a Virginia electrical contractor that engages in
“construction[-]related work in the Washington, D.C.
metropolitan area.” Dkt. 1-2 at 3 (Compl. ¶ 4).
Defendant Olga Gonzalez is the “principal owner”
of A Capital and serves as its president. Id.
(Compl. ¶ 5). Plaintiffs, in turn, “were formerly
employed by Defendants to perform electrical work.”
Dkt. 1-2 at 2 (Compl. ¶ 3). Each Plaintiff “worked
for Defendant[s] at some point . . . from early 2013 through
the first half of 2016.” Dkt. 1-2 at 3 (Compl. ¶
6). Gonzalez “supervis[ed] . . . each Plaintiff and
largely determined the hours that each Plaintiff
worked.” Id. (Compl. ¶ 5).
Plaintiffs' claims turns on the allegation that
“Defendants regularly, intentionally and knowingly
employed each Plaintiff in excess of forty hours per week but
failed to pay each Plaintiff at a[n] . . . overtime
rate” of time-and-a-half. Id. (Compl. ¶
6). As a result, Plaintiffs allege, Defendants violated the
Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C.
§ 207 (Count I), and the D.C. Minimum Wage Revision Act
(“DCMWRA”), D.C. Code § 32-1001(c) (Count
II). Moreover, because Defendants did not pay these past-due
overtime wages at the time that each Plaintiff ceased to work
for Defendants, Plaintiffs assert that Defendants also
violated the D.C. Wage Payment and Collection Law
(“DCWPCL”), D.C. Code § 32-1303 (Count III).
Finally, Plaintiffs allege similar violations under Maryland
(Count IV) and Virginia (Count V) law, “to the extent
[those laws] appl[y] to Defendants' conduct.” Dkt.
1-2 at 7 (Compl. ¶¶ 27, 30); see Md. Code
Ann., Lab. & Empl. § 3-505; Va. Code Ann. §
40.1-29. Plaintiffs seek damages, including liquidated
damages, attorney's fees and expenses, and an injunction
barring “Defendant[s] from further violations of labor
laws.” Id. at 8 (Compl. Demand).
removed the action to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1441 and, then, promptly moved to dismiss for improper venue,
see Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(3), and for failure to
state a claim, see Fed. R. Civ. P.
12(b)(6). Dkt. 8.
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 is plausible if the plaintiff pleads
“factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Id. Although
“detailed factual allegations” are not required,
the complaint must contain “more than labels and
conclusions, [or] a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
The Court must “assume [the] veracity” of
“well-pleaded factual allegations, ”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679, and must “grant [the]
plaintiff the benefit of all inferences that can be derived
from the facts alleged, ” Sparrow v. United Air
Lines, Inc., 216 F.3d 1111, 1113 (D.C. Cir. 2000)
(internal quotation marks omitted). The Court, however, need
not accept “a legal conclusion couched as a factual
allegation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
similar standard governs a defendant's motion to dismiss
for improper venue. The Court must “accept the
plaintiff's well-pled factual allegations regarding venue
as true;” must “draw all reasonable inferences
from those allegations in the plaintiff's favor;”
and must “resolve any factual conflicts in the
plaintiff's favor.” Darby v. U.S. Dep't of
Energy, 231 F.Supp.2d 274, 276 (D.D.C. 2002). The
plaintiff, however, “bears the burden of establishing
that venue is proper, ” Varma v. Gutierrez,
421 F.Supp.2d 110, 113 (D.D.C. 2006) (citation omitted), and
must offer more than mere legal conclusions.
first argue that the Court must dismiss Plaintiffs'
complaint on the ground that venue is improper in the
District of Columbia. In particular, they contend that
“28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) governs venue.” Dkt.
8-1 at 3. That provision limits venue to judicial districts
where “any defendant resides, if all defendants are
residents of the State in which the district is
located;” where “a substantial part of the events
or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred;” or
where “any defendant is subject to the court's
personal jurisdiction” if “there is no district
in which [the] action may otherwise be brought.” 28
U.S.C. § 1391(b). Relying on § 1391(b), Defendants
argue that Plaintiffs have failed to allege sufficient facts
to show that a substantial portion of their uncompensated
work occurred in the District of Columbia. Dkt. 8-1 at 3.
They are incorrect on both the facts and the law.
initial matter, Plaintiffs have alleged that “[a]
substantial portion of [the] work” that they performed
on behalf of Defendants occurred at “construction sites
in the District of Columbia.” Dkt. 1-2 at 2-3 (Compl.
¶¶ 3-4). Despite Defendants' assertion to the
contrary, that is not a mere legal conclusion; although the
word “substantial” appears in § 1391 and has
been given meaning by the courts, “the [C]ourt
‘must treat the complaint's factual allegations-
including mixed questions of law and fact-as true and [must]
draw all reasonable inferences therefrom in the
plaintiff's favor.'” Smith v. United
States, 121 F.Supp.3d 112, 117 (D.D.C. 2015) (quoting
Epps v. U.S. Capitol Police Bd., 719 F.Supp.2d 7, 13
(D.D.C. 2010)). As the Supreme Court has explained, the
federal rules do “not require ‘detailed factual
allegations, ' but [do] demand more than an unadorned,
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555). Here, Plaintiffs' reliance on a legal
term of ...