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Buchta v. Air Evac EMS, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

September 18, 2019

DARRIN BUCHTA, Plaintiffs,
v.
AIR EVAC EMS, INC., Defendant(s).

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STEPHEN R. CLARK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Air Evac EMS, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss [8]. The Court grants, in part, and denies, in part the motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Darrin Buchta filed a complaint in this matter on April 24, 2019, asserting Defendant Air Evac EMS, Inc. d/b/a Air Evac Lifeteam ("Air Evac") violated Indiana, Illinois, and West Virginia laws regulating overtime wages. Air Evac is an air ambulance company providing air medical transport services to rural areas. Buchta alleges that Air Evac required flight paramedics, flight nurses, pilots, and mechanics to routinely work more than forty hours per week, but did not compensate these employees at one and one-half times their regular rate for all hours worked over forty in a week. Buchta filed the complaint on behalf of himself and other similarly situated Air Evac employees. Buchta asserted the following counts in his complaint: (1) Violations of State Wage and Hour Laws including Indiana, West Virginia, and Illinois; and (2) Unjust Enrichment. Air Evac filed the pending motion to dismiss asserting Buchta's claims should be dismissed pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("FRCP") 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6).

         II. STANDARD

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("FRCP") 12(b)(6), a party may move to dismiss a claim for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." The notice pleading standard of FRCP 8(a)(2) requires a plaintiff to give "a short and plain statement showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." To meet this standard and to survive a FRCP 12(b)(6) 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) (internal quotations and citation omitted). This requirement of facial plausibility means the factual content of the plaintiffs allegations must "allow[] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Park Irmat Drug Corp. v. Express Scripts Holding Co., 911 F.3d 505, 512 (8th Cir. 2018) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). The Court must grant all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Lustgraaf v. Behrens, 619 F.3d 867, 872-73 (8th Cir. 2010). Ordinarily, only the facts alleged in the complaint are considered for purposes of a motion to dismiss; however, materials attached to the complaint may also be considered in construing its sufficiency. Reynolds v. Dormire, 636 F.3d 976, 979 (8th Cir. 2011).

         When ruling on a motion to dismiss, a court must liberally construe a complaint in favor of the plaintiff[.] Huggins v. FedEx Ground Package Sys., Inc., 592 F.3d 853, 862 (8th Cir. 2010). However, if a claim fails to allege one of the elements necessary to recovery on a legal theory, that claim must be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Crest Constr. II, Inc. v. Doe, 660 F.3d 346, 355 (8th Cir. 2011). Threadbare recitals of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Although courts must accept all factual allegations as true, they are not bound to take as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal quotations and citation omitted); Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677-78.

         III. DISCUSSION

         In its motion, Air Evac asserts five arguments. First, it argues the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Buchta's Indiana and West Virginia wage law claims. Second, Air Evac claims Buchta fails to state a claim under Indiana law because Air Evac is exempt from Indiana wage laws. Third, Air Evac argues Buchta fails to state a claim under West Virginia law because Buchta is exempt from West Virginia wage laws. Fourth, Air Evac asserts Buchta fails to plead any overtime hours were worked in the state of Illinois, thus, he cannot recover under the Illinois minimum wage law. Finally, Air Evac argues Buchta's unjust enrichment claim must be dismissed if the Court dismisses the Illinois wage law claims.

         A. Indiana Wage Law Claims

         Air Evac asserts it is exempt from Indiana wage laws and consequently, these claims should be dismissed. Buchta concedes Air Evac is exempt and agrees the claims should be dismissed. The Court dismisses all claims against Air Evac under Indiana wage laws.

         B. West Virginia Wage Law Claims

         Air Evac asserts it is exempt from West Virginia wage law claims and the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Buchta's West Virginia wage law claims because Buchta never worked in West Virginia and lacks standing to sue on his own behalf or on behalf of a class of West Virginia employees. Buchta concedes pilots are exempt from West Virginia wage laws but argues clinical employees, such as flight nurses and paramedics, are subject to the state's requirements.

         West Virginia's minimum wage law states: "'Employee' includes any individual employed by an employer but shall not include ... (17) any employee with respect to whom the United States Department of Transportation ("DOT") has statutory authority to establish qualifications and maximum hours of service." W.Va. Code § 21-5C-l(f)(17) (2019).[1] Buchta seeks to bring claims under West Virginia law on behalf of a class of flight paramedics, flight nurses, pilots, and mechanics. ECF No. 1, ΒΆ 8. The Federal Aviation Administration ("FAA"), a subdivision of the DOT, has authority to prescribe "regulations in the interest of safety for the maximum hours or periods of service of ...


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