United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON MOTION TO DISMISS
A. Bolden, Judge
Hou (“Plaintiff”) brought this case against Pat
Kwok Lam and Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant LLC (together
“Defendants”), alleging that Defendants filed a
retaliatory lawsuit against him in violation of the Fair
Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and the Connecticut
Minimum Wage Act (“CMWA”). Defendants have moved
to dismiss all of Mr. Hou's claims under Rule 12(b)(1)
and Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Def. Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 18.
reasons outlined below, Defendants'  Motion to
Dismiss is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN
PART. Defendants' motion to dismiss Mr.
Hou's claim under the CMWA is granted, but the motion is
denied with respect to his FLSA claim.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Hou is a former delivery man at Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant,
LLC (“the restaurant”), where Pat Kwok Lam works
as an owner and manager. Compl. ¶¶ 8-10, ECF No. 1.
In June of 2014, Mr. Hou filed a federal lawsuit against
Defendants, Ming Hou v. Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant, LLC
and Kwok Pat Lam, No. 3:14-cv-869 (AWT)
(“employment lawsuit”), alleging that Defendants
violated the FLSA and various state labor laws during the
course of Mr. Hou's employment. A bench trial was held on
October 25, 2016 to adjudicate Mr. Hou's claims; to date,
the Court has not yet issued a ruling or judgment in that
alleges that, within a couple of months of the scheduled
trial in the employment lawsuit, Defendants contacted Mr.
Hou's wife threatening to file a lawsuit against Mr. Hou.
Compl. ¶¶ 19-21. He alleges that, in September of
2016, following this threat, Defendants served Mr. Hou with a
complaint in connection with a prejudgment remedy application
filed in Connecticut Superior Court, Pat Kwok Lam and
Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant LLC v. Ming Hou,
NNI-CV16-5006873-S (“state action”). According to
Mr. Hou, this state action was frivolous and was filed
“solely to retaliate for Plaintiff's assertion of
his rights under the FLSA and Connecticut law.”
on the other hand, contend that the state action was a
legitimate application for a prejudgment remedy under Conn.
Gen. Stat. § 52-278a, et seq. Defs. Mot. to
Dismiss, ECF No. 1. Defendants also insist that they never
contacted Mr. Hou's wife to threaten Mr. Hou with a
lawsuit, explaining that the state action was initiated in
July of 2016, not in September, by the filing of a
prejudgment remedy application, which is not considered a
formal lawsuit. Id.; see also Pat Kwok Lam and
Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant LLC v. Ming Hou,
NNI-CV16-5006873-S, Docket Entry No. 100.30. According to the
docket for the state action, Defendants' prejudgment
remedy application was scheduled for a hearing in Connecticut
Superior Court on September 25, 2017 at 9:30 AM.
initiated this action against Defendants on September 20,
2016. See Compl., ECF No. 1. Defendants now seek
dismissal of this action, arguing that the Court lacks
subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1), that Mr. Hou
has failed to state an actionable claim under Rule 12(b)(6),
and that abstention is appropriate under the Colorado
STANDARD OF REVIEW
district court may not entertain a case where it lacks
subject matter jurisdiction. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1);
Makarova v. United States, 201 F.3d 110, 113 (2d
Cir. 2000) (“A case is properly dismissed for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) when the
district court lacks the statutory or constitutional power to
adjudicate it.”). Generally, the plaintiff bears the
burden to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the
court has subject matter jurisdiction over its claims.
Id. This burden is met “as long as [the]
complaint states a colorable federal claim.”
Rodriguez v. DeBuono, 175 F.3d 227, 233 (2d Cir.
1999) (citation omitted). When reviewing a motion to dismiss
under Rule 12(b)(1), “a court must accept as true all
material factual allegations in the complaint.”
Shipping Fin. Serv. Corp. v. Drakos, 140 F.3d 129,
131 (2d Cir. 1998) (citation omitted). The court, however,
must also refrain from “drawing from the pleadings
inferences favorable to the party asserting
[jurisdiction].” APWU v. Potter, 343 F.3d 619,
623 (2d Cir. 2003) (citation omitted).
district court may also dismiss a case for failure to state a
claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). In order to survive a
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must
contain factual allegations sufficient to “raise a
right to relief above the speculative level” and
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 555, 570 (2007). A claim is facially
plausible if “the plaintiff pleads factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
Although “detailed factual allegations” are not
required, a complaint must offer more than “labels and
conclusions, ” or “a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action, ” or “naked
assertion[s]” devoid of “further factual
enhancement.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557
(2007). Plausibility at the pleading stage is nonetheless
distinct from probability, and “a well-pleaded
complaint may proceed even if it strikes a savvy judge that
actual proof of [the claims] is improbable, and . . .
recovery is very remote and unlikely.” Id. at
556 (internal quotation marks omitted).
courts considering motions to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6)
generally “must limit [their] analysis to the four
corners of the complaint, ” they may also consider
documents that are “incorporated in the complaint by
reference.” Kermanshah v. Kermanshah, 580
F.Supp.2d 247, 258 (S.D.N.Y. 2008). The Court may also
consider matters subject to judicial notice, which include
publicly filed documents. See Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor
Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007);
DeSilva v. N. Shore-Long Island Jewish Health Sys.
Inc., 770 F.Supp.2d 497, 506-07 (E.D.N.Y. 2011).
seek dismissal of Mr. Hou's claims on the following
grounds: (1) this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction
under Rule 12(b)(1) and/or Rule 12(b)(6) because the state
action filed by Defendants is not a “lawsuit” as
alleged in the Complaint and the relief requested is not
available under the statutory provisions cited; and (2) the
Court should abstain from exercising federal jurisdiction
over this dispute under the abstention doctrine outlined by
the Supreme Court in Colorado River Water Conservation
Dist. v. U.S., 424 U.S. 800 (1976). For the ...