United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Sylvester Jones filed this action against defendant Henry
Industries, Inc. (“Henry”) alleging wrongful
termination under Missouri common law and that defendant
retaliated against plaintiff in violation of the Fair Labor
Standards Act, 29 U.S.C § 215(a)(3)
(“FLSA”). Defendant counterclaimed, seeking a
determination that plaintiff was an independent contractor
and seeking indemnification from plaintiff for breach of
contract. Plaintiff moved to dismiss those counterclaims on
October 4, 2016 (#12).
is a third party logistics company that arranges for a
variety of pickup and delivery services for customers across
the country. Henry alleges that it does not itself provide
the courier services to its customers, but rather Henry
enters into “Cartage Contracts” with purported
independent contractors to provide the courier services.
Jones entered into one of those Cartage Contracts with Henry
to provide such services. Section 7 of the Cartage Contract
CONTRACTOR AGREES TO INDEMNIFY, HOLD HARMLESS, AND AT
[HENRY'S] OPTION, DEFEND [HENRY] AND ITS
AFFILIATES…FROM ALL LIABILITIES, DAMAGES, FEES, FINES,
PENALTIES, AND CLAIMS OF ANY KIND, COSTS OF SUIT,
SETTLEMENTS, JUDGEMENTS, AND ANY OTHER EXPENSE (INCLUDING
ATTORNEYS' FEES) TO WHICH ANY OF THE INDEMNIFIED PARTIES
MAY BE SUBJECTED, ARISING OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION
WITH…ANY ACTION…INITIATED BY OR ON BEHALF OF
ANY CONTRACTOR OR CONTRACTOR WORKER BASED ON A THEORY THAT
ANY OF THE INDEMNIFIED PARTIES IS AN EMPLOYER OR JOINT
EMPLOYER OF ANY SUCH CONTRACTOR.
2014, Jones joined a collective action brought against Henry
by his coworker James Hose. That collective action was
brought under the FLSA, alleged that Henry was wrongfully
classifying its employees as independent contractors, and
sought compensation for unpaid overtime wages. Later that
year, Henry terminated Jones's employment. Plaintiff
Jones then filed the instant lawsuit against Henry, claiming
that Henry had terminated Jones in retaliation for asserting
his legal rights under the FLSA and related Missouri wage and
response, Henry filed two counterclaims against Jones based
the Cartage Contract to which Henry and Jones are parties.
Henry claims that the FLSA does not apply to independent
contractors and so does not provide the protection Jones
seeks. Henry thus seeks, in Count I, a declaratory judgment
stating Jones is an independent contractor not entitled to
relief under the FLSA. In Count II, Henry seeks
indemnification from Jones under the Cartage Contract for
filing a lawsuit under the FLSA. Henry contends Jones is in
breach of the Cartage Contract for having filed this lawsuit
and other lawsuits currently pending in the United States
District Court for the District of Kansas and Circuit Court
for St. Louis County, Missouri.
has moved to dismiss the counterclaim under Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) and has moved to strike
under Rule 12(f).
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) provides a party may move to
dismiss a claim based on a lack of subject matter
jurisdiction. The purpose of a Rule 12(b)(1) motion is to
allow the Court to address the threshold question of
jurisdiction, as “because jurisdiction is a threshold
question, judicial economy demands that the issue be decided
at the outset rather than deferring it until trial.”
Osborn v. United States, 918 F.2d 724, 729 (8th Cir.
1990). The burden of proving subject matter jurisdiction
rests on the counterclaim plaintiff. Riley v. United
States, 486 F.3d 1030, 1032 (8th Cir. 2007).
purpose of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to
state a claim is to test the legal sufficiency of a complaint
so as to eliminate those actions “which are fatally
flawed in their legal premises and deigned to fail, thereby
sparing litigants the burden of unnecessary pretrial and
trial activity.” Young v. City of St. Charles,
244 F.3d 623, 627 (8th Cir. 2001) (citing Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 326-27 (1989)). “To
survive a motion to dismiss, a claim must be facially
plausible, meaning that the ‘factual content. . .
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.'”
Cole v. Homier Dist. Co., Inc., 599 F.3d 856, 861
(8th Cir. 2010)(quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009)). The Court must “accept the
allegations contained in the complaint as true and draw all
reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party.”
Id. (quoting Coons v. Mineta, 410 F.3d
1036, 1039 (8th Cir. 2005)). However, “[t]hreadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, ” will not pass muster.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
12(f) allows that the Court may “strike from a pleading
an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial,
impertinent, or scandalous matter.” “Because such
relief is an extreme measure, however, motions under Rule
12(f) are viewed with disfavor in the Eighth Circuit and are
infrequently granted.” E.E.O.C. v. Prod.
Fabricators, Inc., 873 F.Supp.2d 1093, 1097 (D. Minn.
2012) (internal quotations omitted) (citing Stanbury Law
Firm, P.A. v. Internal Revenue Serv., 221 F.3d 1059,
1063 (8th Cir. 2000); Daigle v. Ford Motor Co., 713
F.Supp.2d 822, 830 (D. Minn. 2010)). A motion to strike
should be granted “if the result is to make a trial
less complicated or otherwise streamline the ultimate
resolution of the action.” Daigle, 713
F.Supp.2d at 830.
contends that Henry's indemnification counterclaim (1) is
permissive and thus fails for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction, (2) fails for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction because it is not ripe, (3) fails to state a
claim and for lack of subject matter jurisdiction due to
preemption with the FLSA, and (4) fails to state a claim
because the Cartage Agreement is unenforceable. He further
contends that ...