September 28, 2016
from the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. No. 14-cv-1710 -
William T. Lawrence, Judge.
Kanne, Sykes, and Hamilton, Circuit Judges.
student athletes at the University of Pennsylvania
("Penn") sued Penn, the National Collegiate
Athletic Association ("NCAA"), and more than 120
other NCAA Division I universities and colleges alleging that
student athletes are employees who are entitled to a minimum
wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA").
The district court disagreed. We agree with the district
court and hold that student athletes are not employees and
are not covered by the FLSA.
Berger and Taylor Hennig ("Appellants") are former
students at Perm who participated on Penn's women's
track and field team. Like many collegiate athletic teams
across the country, Penn's women's track and field
team is regulated by the NCAA. The NCAA is a member-driven,
unincorporated association of 1121 colleges and universities.
It is divided into three divisions-Divisions I, II, and III-
based roughly on the size of the schools and their athletic
programs. Penn's women's track and field team
competes in Division I, which includes the largest colleges
and universities in the country.
sued Penn, the NCAA, and more than 120 other NCAA Division I
member schools ("Appellees"), alleging that student
athletes are "employees" within the meaning of the
FLSA, 29 U.S.C. § 201. Accordingly, Appellants contend
that the NCAA and its member schools violated the FLSA by not
paying their athletes a minimum wage. Appellees moved to
dismiss under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and
district court granted Appellees' motions, holding that
(1) Appellants lacked standing to sue any of the Appellees
other than Penn, and (2) Appellants failed to state a claim
against Penn because student athletes are not employees under
the FLSA. This appeal followed.
district court first dismissed Appellants' suit against
all of the Appellees except Penn for lack of standing. We
review de novo a district court's dismissal of a
complaint for lack of standing. Lewert v. P.F.
Chang's China Bistro, Inc., 819 F.3d 963, 966 (7th
every case, the plaintiff has the burden of establishing the
three elements of standing: that "(1) [he or she] has
suffered an 'injury in fact' that is (a) concrete and
particularized and (b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or
hypothetical; (2) the injury is fairly traceable to the
challenged action of the defendant; and (3) it is likely, as
opposed to merely speculative, that the injury will be
redressed by a favorable decision." Friends of the
Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Envtl. Sews. (TOO, Inc., 528 U.S.
167, 180-81 (2000) (citing Lujan v. Defs. of
Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560-61 (1992)). To meet this
burden and to survive a challenge to standing under Rule
12(b)(1), a plaintiff must plead sufficient factual
allegations, taken as true, that "plausibly
suggest" each of these elements. Silha v. ACT,
Inc., 807 F.3d 169, 174 (7th Cir. 2015).
the FLSA, alleged employees' "injuries are only
traceable to, and redressable by, those who employed
them." Roman v. Guapos III, Inc., 970 F.Supp.2d
407, 412 (D. Md. 2013). Appellants attended Penn. Their
connection to the other schools and the NCAA is far too
tenuous to be considered an employment relationship:
"the only fair reading of the Amended Complaint is that
[Appellants] are alleging that they are employees of only
Penn, not of the other Defendants." (R. 238 at 5.) Thus,
Appellants have not plausibly alleged any injury traceable
to, or redressable by, any defendant other than Penn. So they
lack standing to sue those other defendants.
turn to the merits with regard to Penn, over which no one
disputes that we have jurisdiction. The district court
dismissed Appellants' suit against Penn for failure to
state a claim. We review de novo a district
court's dismissal of a complaint for failure to state a
claim. Jackson v. Blitt & Gaines, P.C., 833 F.3d
860, 862 (7th Cir. 2016). In evaluating the sufficiency of
the complaint, "we construe it in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party, accept well-pleaded facts
as true, and draw all inferences in [the nonmoving
party's] favor." Bell v. City of Chicago,835 F.3d 736, 738 (7th Cir. 2016) (quoting Reynolds v. CB
Sports Bar, Inc.,623 F.3d 1143, 1146 (7th Cir. 2010)).
Although a party need not plead "detailed factual
allegations" to survive a motion to dismiss, mere
"labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not
do." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007). Instead, "To survive a motion to
dismiss, a ...