United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Northern Division
DEWAYNE COLEMAN, on behalf of himself and others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
ONSHORE TECHNOLOGY SERVICES, INC., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
E. JACKSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on plaintiff's motion to
dismiss defendant's amended counterclaims for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(1). Defendant has filed a response in opposition and
the issues are fully briefed.
Dewayne Coleman worked as a Quality Assurance Technician
(QAT) for defendant Onshore Technology Services, Inc. He
alleges that defendant improperly denied him and other QATs
overtime compensation due under the Fair Labor Standards Act
(FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), by improperly classifying
them as salaried “computer professionals.” He
filed this purported collective action under the FLSA,
asserting claims for overtime compensation and declaratory
19, 2017, defendant filed amended counterclaims, alleging
that plaintiff failed to return a company-issued laptop and
subsequently pawned it.
asserts claims for unjust enrichment, fraud, and conversion,
invoking this Court's supplemental jurisdiction pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1367. Plaintiff argues that the
counterclaims must be dismissed for lack of subject matter
initial matter, the Court addresses defendant's
contention that plaintiff's motion to dismiss its amended
counterclaim was untimely under Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(3)
(response to amended pleading must be made “within time
remaining to respond to original pleading or within 14 days
after service of the amended pleading, whichever is
later.”). Because the Court has an independent
obligation to determine whether subject-matter jurisdiction
exists, even in the absence of a challenge from any party,
the Court will address plaintiff's arguments. Arbaugh
v. Y&H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 514 (2006); Ruhrgas
AG v. Marathon Oil Co., 526 U.S. 574, 583 (1999).
Court has original jurisdiction over plaintiff's FLSA
claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Defendant's
counterclaims arise under state law, and they do not allege
facts establishing diversity of citizenship jurisdiction
under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Accordingly, the Court has
subject matter jurisdiction only if supplemental jurisdiction
is authorized under 28 U.S.C. § 1367. The burden of
establishing this Court's jurisdiction rests on the
counterclaimant. Jones v. Henry Indus., Inc., No.
4:16CV1184 SNLJ, 2017 WL 513038, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Feb. 8,
2017) (citing Riley v. United States, 486 F.3d 1030,
1032 (8th Cir. 2007)).
1367(a) provides that “in any civil action of which the
district courts have original jurisdiction, the district
courts shall have supplemental jurisdiction over all other
claims that are so related . . . that they form part of the
same case or controversy under Article III of the United
States Constitution.” 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). Claims
are part of the same case or controversy if they
“derive from a common nucleus of operative fact.”
City of Chicago v. Int'l Coll. of Surgeons, 522
U.S. 156, 164-65 (1997) (citation omitted). Claims derive
from a common nucleus of operative fact if they “are
such that [the asserting party] would ordinarily be expected
to try them all in one judicial proceeding.” ABF
Freight Sys., Inc. v. Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters, 645
F.3d 954, 963 (8th Cir. 2011) (quoting United Mine
Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 725 (1966)).
argues that supplemental jurisdiction exists because the FLSA
claims and state-law claims depend on the same evidence
regarding its policies and procedures. The Court disagrees.
The policies and procedures on which defendant's claims
depend are those related to employees' obligations with
respect to company-issued property, while plaintiff's
claims will require consideration of his job duties, the
number of hours he worked, and the compensation he received.
See Schmucker v. Precision Irrigation, Inc., No.
4:15-CV-00567-JCH, 2015 WL 6438351, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Oct. 22,
2015) (employer's counterclaims will require
consideration of evidence primarily related to employee's
performance of his employment duties, “the alleged
deficiencies of which bear no relationship to the numbers of
hours he worked or [defendant's] wage and hour
policies.”). “The only overlapping fact in this
nucleus is that the plaintiff was employed by the
defendants.” Shepherd v. Kelley, No. CIV.A.
12-0424-WS-B, 2013 WL 105284, at *2 (S.D. Ala. Jan. 8, 2013);
see also Kelso v. Complete Home Renovations, Inc.,
No. 216CV00430LJMMJD, 2017 WL 495789, at *2 (S.D. Ind. Feb.
7, 2017) (existence of an employment relationship alone
cannot establish a common nucleus of operative fact to
support supplemental jurisdiction in an FLSA case); Anwar
v. Stephens, No. CV 15-4493 (JS)(GRB), 2016 WL 4468090,
at *4 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 3, 2016), report and recommendation
adopted, No. 15-CV-4493(JS)(GRB), 2016 WL 4468239
(E.D.N.Y. Aug. 24, 2016) (“[P]laintiff's employment
relationship with the defendants is the sole fact that
connects the federal and state claims, but that fact alone is
insufficient to form the basis of supplemental jurisdiction.)
The fact that defendant might be entitled to offset any
damages awarded to plaintiff by the value of the laptop does
not alter the analysis. See Molnoski v. Batmasian,
No. 16-CV-81789, 2017 WL 1232792, at *1 (S.D. Fla. Mar. 31,
2017) (“[S]tate-law counterclaims for conversion are
improper in an FLSA case when they do not stem from the
employer/employee relationship which “implicate[s] the
number of hours worked or payment received.”) (citation
omitted); Patel v. Goldspot Stores, LLC, No.
6:15-CV-198-ORL-28DA, 2015 WL 3401165, at *3 (M.D. Fla. May
26, 2015) (“[T]he only connection between an action for
unpaid wages and the alleged misappropriation is that
Plaintiffs were employed by Goldspot at the time. This is not
enough.”). Latortue v. Fast Payday Loans,
Inc., No. 209-CV-171-FTM-29DNF, 2010 WL 415311, at *2
(M.D. Fla. Jan. 27, 2010) (theft of money from an employer on
the one occasion alleged is not “part of the same case
or controversy under Article III of the United States
Constitution” as plaintiff's FLSA claim).
counterclaims and plaintiff's FLSA claims do not arise
from a common nucleus of operative fact. Therefore, the Court
does not have supplemental jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's
motion to dismiss defendant's counterclaims for lack of