Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Moakler v. Furkids, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division

December 4, 2017




         This matter is before the Court on Defendants Furkids, Inc.'s and Samantha Dee Shelton's (collectively “Defendants”) Motion to Dismiss [5] for lack of subject matter jurisdiction (“Motion”).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Laura Moakler (“Moakler”) worked as a Kennel/Vet Technician for Furkids, a domestic, charitable, nonprofit provider of pet care, from August 20, 2014, to August 1, 2016. (Id. ¶ 12). Samantha Shelton is its founder.

         On June 2, 2016, Defendants were sent correspondence notifying them that Moakler had obtained counsel to represent her regarding FLSA overtime claims. (Id. ¶ 28). Ten days later, Defendants wrote up Moakler for working past 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 8, 2016. (Id. ¶ 30). Defendants notified Moakler that overtime would only be paid if it were approved and that she “would be terminated should she work overtime again.” (Id. ¶¶ 31, 33). On August 1, 2016, Defendants terminated Moakler. (Id. ¶ 34). On December 1, 2016, Moakler filed this action, claiming that Furkids violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 215(a)(3) (“FLSA Antiretaliation Provision”), by terminating Plaintiff in retaliation for Plaintiff raising FLSA overtime claims.[1] (Compl. ¶¶ 27-38).

         On March 10, 2017, Defendants moved to dismiss Moakler's Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). ([5]). Defendants argue that the Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction because “the FLSA does not apply to this case” since “Moakler's work for Furkids had nothing to do with interstate commerce.” ([5 at 3-4]). Defendant purports to mount a “factual attack” on subject matter jurisdiction. ([5] ¶ 2 n.1). In support, Defendant offers the Declaration of Samantha Shelton. ([5-1]). Shelton states that she founded Furkids, Inc., which is “a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization that operates one of the largest cage-free, no-kill shelter in the Southeast for rescued cats.” ([5-1] ¶ 2). Shelton asserts that Moakler worked only at the Furkids' cat shelter located in metro Atlanta, Georgia, and that rescued animals housed by Furkids are found within Georgia and are brought to Furkids by Georgia residents. (Id. ¶¶ 4, 6). Shelton further states that “Furkids' cat and dog shelters do not offer any services for fees to the general public, and do not [sic] engage in any ordinary commercial activities.” (Id. ¶ 7). Shelton acknowledges that “Furkids operates a thrift store to raise money to care for its animal residents” but states that “Moakler did not work at the thrift store, ” the “thrift store is a completely separate operation from the cat shelter where Moakler worked, ” and Furkids is funded primarily through charitable donations. (Id. ¶¶ 8, 9).

         Shelton states that “Moakler's position as a kennel technician included giving food and water to the cats, changing litter, cleaning the facility, supervising the cats' interactions with each other and with guests, and otherwise ensuring the clean, safe, and humane care of Furkids' cat residents.” ([5-1] ¶ 12). Shelton maintains that “Moakler has never provided commercial services on behalf of Furkids, or otherwise engaged in commerce.” ([5-1] ¶ 11).

         On March 24, 2017, Moakler filed her Response. ([6]). Moakler maintains that “the central issue for the court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is whether Ms. Moakler can maintain an action under the FLSA's retaliatory discharge provision, 29 U.S.C. § 215(a)(3), even if Defendants' failure to pay overtime does not in fact constitute a violation of the overtime provision of the Act because the employment relationship is not covered by the FLSA.” ([6] at 2). Moakler argues that she can “prevail on an FLSA retaliation claim even if she cannot establish individual or enterprise coverage.” (Id. at 3, citing Wirtz v. Ross Packaging Comp., 367 F.2d 549, 550-51 (5th Cir. 1966)).

         Moakler asserts that “Defendants' Motion is not properly based on subject matter jurisdiction, and therefore, Defendants' extrinsic factual exhibits should not be considered.” (Id. at 3). Nevertheless, Moakler requests that the Court take judicial notice of information posted on Defendants' website should the Court consider extrinsic evidence. (Id. at 3). Moakler contends that this information demonstrates that “Defendants operate adoption centers for five PetSmart locations and two PETCO locations, sell retail merchandise on-line and at the shelters, and operate three large thrift stores.” (Id. at 3-4, citing [6-1]). Moakler cites Defendants' website as demonstrating that Defendants offer fee for services, like spay and neuter surgeries, to the public. (Id. at 4, citing [6-1]).

         Relying on audited financial statements published on Defendants' website, Moakler maintains that all of Defendants' economic activity “takes place under the umbrella of one business entity - Furkids, Inc., and are accounted for as one business in Defendant's set of financial statements.” (Id. at 4, citing [6-2]). “It appears for Defendant Furkids, Inc.'s 2014 audited financial statements that Furkids generated $601, 210 in revenue from a combination of services provided in addition to sales from thrift stores.” (Id. at 4, citing [6-2] at 6). “That same revenue amounted to $486, 302 in 2015.” (Id. at 4, citing [6-3] at 6).

         Moakler also cites Defendants' website to state that “Defendants' rescued animals, donors, and adoptive owners come from various states nationwide.” (Id. at 5, citing [6-4]). Moakler notes that “Defendants produced a video to advertise the cat shelter that went ‘viral' around the world and generated an ‘influx of donations from around the country, as well as adoption applications and inquiries from people interested in volunteering for the shelter.'” (Id. at 5, citing [6-4] at 2).

         On April 7, 2017, Defendants filed a Reply. ([7]). Defendants argue that Wirtz is distinguishable because it did not involve “the total lack of connection to interstate commerce that is presented by Plaintiff's work at a local animal shelter caring for cats.” (Id. at 6). Defendants maintain that applying the antiretaliation provision to Moakler “would undermine the constitutional requirement of interstate commerce and would extend the reach of that provision far beyond the reach of Congress' Commerce Clause power. . .” (Id. at 7 (emphasis in original)).


         A. Legal Standards

         “Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction.” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). They possess only that power authorized by the Constitution and conferred by Congress. Bender v. Williamsport Area School Dist., 475 U.S. 534, 541 (1986). “If the court determines at any time that it ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.