Citrus company Bee Sweet Citrus Inc. has moved to dismiss a lawsuit filed last year that claims that workers were underpaid in violation of the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (AWPA).
The defendant claims that the plaintiff’s lawsuit fails because it resembles a complaint filed in 2020, with different plaintiffs but the same plaintiff’s counsel and largely identical claims. That prior lawsuit was ended in August with a judgment on the pleadings favoring Bee Sweet, in part because the defendants in that case failed to provide pre-suit notification to the defendants.
In their latest motion to dismiss, Bee Sweet says that the plaintiffs repeat the same error as they did in the prior lawsuit – the employees are blaming Bee Sweet for the mistakes of an unnamed labor contractor on a theory of joint liability. The defendants also say that the employees have failed to provide enough detail for the lawsuit to continue.
“Plaintiffs fail to specify who they were working for, and what dates they claimed they worked ‘off the clock’ or traveled between fields,” the complaint says. The defendants add that there is no evidence provided as to how the employees were allegedly directed to work off the clock.
The motion to dismiss claims that the new lawsuit is merely an “end run” around the failure to comply with pleading requirements of the now-dismissed first lawsuit, and that the pleadings remain deficient.