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Marshall v. Rawlings Co., LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah Division

September 11, 2014

GLORIA MARSHALL, Plaintiff,
v.
THE RAWLINGS COMPANY, LLC and UNKNOWN DEFENDANT(S), Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

THOMAS B. RUSSELL, Senior District Judge.

This matter is before the Court upon Defendant The Rawlings Company, LLC's Partial Motion to Dismiss those portions of Plaintiff's Complaint asserting claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress, punitive damages, and emotional distress damages. (Docket No. 4). Plaintiff Gloria Marshall has responded, (Docket No. 10) and Defendant Rawlings has replied. (Docket No. 12). This matter is now fully briefed and ripe for adjudication. For the following reasons, Defendant's Partial Motion to Dismiss those portions of the Complaint asserting claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress, punitive damages, and emotional distress damages is denied.

BACKGROUND

This litigation arises from the termination of Plaintiff Gloria Marshall's employment with the Rawlings Company, LLC ("Rawlings"). Rawlings employed Marshall from January of 2006 to October of 2013.

Marshall alleges that she performed her job duties at a high level and was promoted in 2011 from Workers Compensation Analyst to Team Leader in the Workers Compensation Division. Marshall suffers from "anxiety, depression, bipolar and post-traumatic stress disorders which manifested during her employment at Rawlings." (Docket No. 1). As a result of her medical disorders, she took medical leave under the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") from January of 2012 until March of 2012. Upon returning to work, she alleges that she was required to take on additional projects and tasks while still managing her previous caseload. She expressed concerns that she was "being set up for failure since taking FMLA leave" to Operational Manager Leah Sarley and Division Director Mike Elsner. ( Id. ). In August of 2012, Vice President of Subrogation Jeff Bradshaw "sarcastically ask[ed Marshall] if she planned to take leave again." ( Id. ). In September of 2012, she was demoted from Team Leader to Analyst, which caused her "embarrassment and humiliation." ( Id. ).

In March of 2013, Marshall had another health setback and again took medical leave under the FMLA until April of 2013 "as a result in large part to the stressful work environment." ( Id. ). Marshall claims that Defendants' behavior after her return made it "obvious she was no longer welcome at Rawlings." ( Id. ). In May of 2013, Vice President of Subrogation Jeff Bradshaw "singled her out for harassment" at a department luncheon and questioned Marshall about morale. ( Id. ). On September 23, 2013, Elsner called Marshall into a meeting with Team Leader Matt Monyhann, who claimed Marshall took too many breaks. Elsner asked her about her attitude and Marshall explained that she felt she was "setup for failure" after taking FMLA leave and that Bradshaw harassed her. ( Id. ). Elsner asked if she would make a harassment complaint and she declined. He asked again two days later and she again declined, "for fear of losing her job." ( Id. ). Elsner said he would file it on her behalf.

On September 30, 2013, Marshall was called into a meeting with Division President Laura Plumley regarding the complaint that Elsner filed. Marshall said that she did not intend to file any complaint "for fear of losing her job" but explained that she felt "singled out" after taking FMLA leave. ( Id. ). Plumley told Marshall it was "suspicious" that she first raised the issue during a counseling meeting, but assured Marshall that she would not be fired. The next day, October 1, Rawlings Owner George Rawlings called Marshall to a meeting, and fired her for "having a bad attitude.'" ( Id. ).

Marshall alleges violations of her rights under the FMLA, 29 U.S.C. ยง 2601, et. seq., and a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress.

STANDARD

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that pleadings, including complaints, contain a "short plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A defendant may move to dismiss a claim or case because the complaint fails to "state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b). When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the court must presume all of the factual allegations in the complaint are true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Total Benefits Planning Agency, Inc., 552 F.3d at 434 (citing Great Lakes Steel v. Deggendorf, 716 F.2d 1101, 1105 (6th Cir.1983)). "The court need not, however, accept unwarranted factual inferences." Id. (citing Morgan v. Church's Fried Chicken, 829 F.2d 10, 12 (6th Cir.1987)).

Even though a "complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his 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) (citations omitted). Instead, the plaintiff's "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Id. (citations omitted). A complaint should contain enough facts "to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570. A claim becomes plausible "when 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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). If, from the well-pleaded facts, the court cannot "infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but has not show[n]'-that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Id. at 1950 (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). "Only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss." Id.

DISCUSSION

I. Plaintiff's IIED claim is not preempted by her FLMA claim.

Marshall alleges that Rawlings "intentional and unlawful interference with [her] rights constitute extreme and outrageous conduct." Rawlings argues that Marshall's claim of intentional infliction of emotional ...


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