United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
Christopher Romano, et al.
Site Acquisitions, Inc. Opinion No. 2016 DNH 002
Brandon D. Ross, Esq.
Peter G. Callaghan, Esq.
Andrea K. Johnstone United States Magistrate Judge
In a case that has been removed from the New Hampshire Superior Court, Christopher Romano, Michael Petros, and Shane Bruneau (collectively, “plaintiffs”) bring suit against their former employer, Site Acquisitions, Inc. (“Site Acquisitions” or “defendant”), alleging that the defendant failed to make payments to the plaintiffs earned as part of an incentive program between the defendant and AT&T. Am. Compl., Doc. No. 13.
Before the court is the defendant’s motion to dismiss two counts (Counts IV and V) of the plaintiffs’ second amended complaint. Doc. No. 15. For the reasons that follow, the defendant’s motion is granted.
Standard of Review
When ruling on a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the court must "accept as true all well-pleaded facts set out in the complaint and indulge all reasonable inferences in favor of the pleader." SEC v. Tambone, 597 F.3d 436, 441 (1st Cir. 2010) (citing In re Colonial Mortg. Bankers Corp., 324 F.3d 12, 15 (1st Cir. 2003)). Although the complaint need only contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, " Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), it must allege each of the essential elements of a viable cause of action and "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 quotation marks omitted).
In other words, the "plaintiff[s’] obligation to provide the 'grounds' of [their] 'entitlement to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Instead, the facts alleged in the complaint must, if credited as true, be sufficient to "nudge [the plaintiffs’] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible . . . ." Id. at 570. If, however, the "factual allegations in the complaint are too meager, vague, or conclusory to remove the possibility of relief from the realm of mere conjecture, the complaint is open to dismissal." Tambone, 597 F.3d at 442.
Accepting the factual allegations set forth in the plaintiffs’ amended complaint as true, the relevant facts are as follows.
Site Acquisitions provides services to the wireless telecommunications industry, including the siting and installation of telecommunications towers. Am. Compl. ¶ 8, Doc. No. 13. At various times between 2013 and 2015, the plaintiffs served on tower crews for Site Acquisitions. Id. ¶ 9. A tower crew is responsible for installing telecommunications tower systems (“cell phone towers”). Id. ¶ 10.
At some point, AT&T contracted Site Acquisitions to install cell phone towers in New Hampshire. Id. ¶ 12. AT&T has an incentive program for tower crews designed to encourage greater performance and minimize substandard tower installations. Id. ¶ 13. Under the program, if tower crews met certain quality standards established by AT&T, they were entitled to non-discretionary bonuses. Id. ¶¶ 15-16. The bonuses were intended to be directly passed to the tower crews. Id. ¶ 17.
During a meeting held in 2013, a Site Acquisitions manager explained to the plaintiffs’ tower crew that AT&T was offering incentive pay under the program, and the benefits would be paid directly to the tower crew. Id. ¶¶ 21-23. Based on the representations made by Site Acquisitions, the plaintiffs completed over twenty cell phone tower installations, working weekends and up to seventy hours a week. Id. ¶¶ 24-25. Nearly every cell phone tower completed by the plaintiffs qualified for full payment under AT&T’s incentive program. Id. ¶ 26.
Site Acquisitions received payments from AT&T under the incentive program, but did not pass any portion of the funds to the plaintiffs. Id. ¶ 29. Site Acquisitions knew, however, that the payments were intended for the plaintiffs and other qualifying tower crews. Id. ¶ 30. Further, Site Acquisitions ...