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Ostrander v. Hill-Rom Holdings, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

November 2, 2016

JANETTE OSTRANDER, Plaintiff,
v.
HILL-ROM HOLDINGS, INC. Defendant.

          ORDER

          HON. JANE MAGNUS-STINSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Janette Ostrander brings the instant suit against Defendant Hill-Rom Holdings, Inc. (“Hill-Rom”) for unpaid commissions pursuant to Indiana Code § 22-2-5-2. [Filing No. 1; Filing No. 7.] Presently pending before the Court is Hill-Rom's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. [Filing No. 14.] For the reasons stated below, the Court DENIES Hill-Rom's Motion to Dismiss.

         I. Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) “requires only ‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). “Specific facts are not necessary, the statement need only ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93 (quoting Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

         A 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss asks whether the complaint “contain[s] 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 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). In reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint, the Court must accept all well-pled facts as true and draw all permissible inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Active Disposal, Inc. v. City of Darien, 635 F.3d 883, 886 (7th Cir. 2011). The Court will not accept legal conclusions or conclusory allegations as sufficient to state a claim for relief. See McCauley v. City of Chicago, 671 F.3d 611, 617 (7th Cir. 2011). Factual allegations must plausibly state an entitlement to relief “to a degree that rises above the speculative level.” Munson v. Gaetz, 673 F.3d 630, 633 (7th Cir. 2012). This plausibility determination is “a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id.

         II. Background

         The factual allegations in Ms. Ostrander's Amended Complaint, which the Court must accept as true at this time, are as follows:

         Hill-Rom, a medical technologies manufacturer and provider, hired Ms. Ostrander as an Information Technology (“IT”) Sales Executive on or about October 20, 2014. [Filing No. 7 at 2.] Ms. Ostrander earned commissions based on her sales, and Hill-Rom paid her commissions from each month at the end of the following month. [Filing No. 7 at 2.]

         On April 30, 2015, Hill-Rom owed Ms. Ostrander $204, 328.35 in sales commissions for her March 2015 sales, but refused to pay her. [Filing No. 7 at 3.] Between April 30, 2015 and September 2015, Ms. Ostrander demanded her March 2015 commissions, but Hill-Rom continued to refuse payment. [Filing No. 7 at 3.] Hill-Rom terminated Ms. Ostrander's employment on September 18, 2015. [Filing No. 7 at 3.] On December 11, 2015, Hill-Rom paid Ms. Ostrander $204, 328.35 for the March 2015 commissions that she earned. [Filing No. 7 at 3.]

         After having exhausted her administrative remedies with the Indiana Department of Labor, Ms. Ostrander initiated this litigation on May 18, 2016, [Filing No. 1], and filed the operative Amended Complaint on May 24, 2016, [Filing No. 7]. Ms. Ostrander argues that Hill-Rom owes her $408, 656.70 in liquidated damages for failure to pay her March 2015 commissions on April 30, 2016. [Filing No. 7 at 4.] In addition, Ms. Ostrander claims that she is entitled to receive a statutory penalty of $225 and attorney's fees and costs. [Filing No. 7 at 4.]

         III. Discussion

         Hill-Rom challenges Ms. Ostrander's Amended Complaint on two grounds: first, it argues that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Ms. Ostrander's claim under the Indiana Wage Payment Act (“IWPA”), [Filing No. 15 at 3]; second, she argues that Ms. Ostrander's claim under the Indiana Wage Claims Statute (“IWCS”) fails because she only seeks liquidated damages under Ind. Code § 22-2-5-2, [Filing No. 15 at 6]. The Court will address the issues in turn.

         A. IWPA Claim

         Hill-Rom argues that Ms. Ostrander's IWPA claim fails for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because Ms. Ostrander “did not suffer a harm identified” in the IWPA. [Filing No. 15 at 4.] Hill-Rom asserts that the IWPA governs wage payment for employees who voluntarily terminate their employment, while the IWCS governs wage payment for employees who were involuntarily terminated. [Filing No. 15 at 3-4.] Hill-Rom contends that because Ms. ...


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