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Inniss v. Rocky Mountain Inventory, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Colorado

May 29, 2019

CARLOS INNISS, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN INVENTORY, INC., a Colorado corporation, BRIAN HUNGERFORD, an individual, JANINE HUNGERFORD, an individual, and LINDA HUNGERFORD, an individual, Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING MOTION TO DISMISS

          William J. Martinez, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Carlos Inniss (“Inniss”) brings this action against Rocky Mountain Inventory, Inc. (“RMI”), Brian Hungerford, Janine Hungerford, and Linda Hungerford (together, “Hungerfords”) (collectively, “Defendants”) for alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq., and similar state laws. (ECF No. 26.) Inniss claims he was an “Inventory Auditor” for RMI, and that RMI's payment structure for Inventory Auditors deprives them of FLSA-mandated overtime pay and pay required under Colorado law.

         Currently before the Court is Defendants' Partial Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 40.) For the reasons explained below, the Court will deny this motion.

         I. LEGAL STANDARD

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a party may move to dismiss a claim in a complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” The 12(b)(6) standard requires the Court to “assume the truth of the plaintiff's well-pleaded factual allegations and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Ridge at Red Hawk, LLC v. Schneider, 493 F.3d 1174, 1177 (10th Cir. 2007). In ruling on such a motion, the dispositive inquiry is “whether the complaint contains ‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Id. (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Granting a motion to dismiss “is a harsh remedy which must be cautiously studied, not only to effectuate the spirit of the liberal rules of pleading but also to protect the interests of justice.” Dias v. City & Cnty. of Denver, 567 F.3d 1169, 1178 (10th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). “Thus, ‘a well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is improbable, and that a recovery is very remote and unlikely.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         II. BACKGROUND

         The Court accepts the following as true for purposes of Defendants' motion.

         “The job responsibilities of Inventory Auditors include traveling to the site of RMI's customers (such as grocery stores) and performing an inventory of goods on hand at the stores.” (ECF No. 26 ¶ 27.) Sometimes the stores are far away from the Inventory Auditors' homes, meaning that Inventory Auditors travel long distances and, in some circumstances, stay overnight in hotels. (Id. ¶ 29.) RMI pays Inventory Auditors on a per-mile basis (after a 60-mile deductible) when traveling from home to a store and back. (Id. ¶ 31(b).) If the Inventory Auditor must travel from one store to another in the same area on the same day, he or she is paid minimum wage for that travel time. (Id. ¶ 31(c).) RMI does not factor travel time into its calculations of whether it needs to pay overtime. (Id. ¶ 33.)

         In addition to these pay practices, Inniss was required to “undertake miscellaneous work off-the-clock for the benefit of RMI to prepare for the following day's assignments. For example, on Christmas Day, 2017, [Inniss] was required to coordinate and carry out the handoff of required equipment from another employee to allow [him] to perform the duties required of him on December 26, 2017.” (Id. ¶ 38.)

         Inniss routinely worked more than 40 hours per week and 12 hours per day, particularly when factoring in travel time. (Id. ¶ 39.)

         Beginning in February 2018, Inniss complained “to RMI” or to “each of the Hungerfords” about discrepancies between hours he recorded in a system called “Exaktime” and hours for which he was actually paid. (Id. ¶¶ 65-66.) These complaints continued “over the following months” but he received no response. (Id. ¶¶ 66-67.) A response finally came on June 6, 2018, when Janine Hungerford explained “that RMI altered the hours reported by Exaktime based on other data to which the employees were not privy.” (Id. ¶ 68.) Two days later, RMI terminated Inniss. (Id. ¶ 69.)

         Inniss now brings claims for failure to pay all amounts he should have been paid under the FLSA (Count 1), failure to pay all amounts he should have been paid under the Colorado Wage Payment Act and Colorado Wage Order (Count 2), and retaliation for asserting his FLSA rights (Count 3). (Id. at 15-17.)

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Hungerford Defendants' Potential Individual Liability for ...


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