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Coleman v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.

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

November 27, 2018



          Greg N. Stivers, Chief Judge United States District Court

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (DN 16). This motion is ripe for adjudication. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is GRANTED.


         Plaintiff Carol Coleman (“Plaintiff”) is an African-American woman, pastor, and resident of Louisville, Kentucky. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 1, 10, DN 15). Plaintiff was a customer of Defendant JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (“Chase”), which operates branches in Louisville. (Am. Compl. ¶ 15).

         The series of incidents leading to this action began when Plaintiff went to a Chase branch to deposit a $30, 000 check from one of her parishioners named Morra Henriksen (“Henriksen”). (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 10, 16). Henriksen at some point in the past donated a house to Plaintiff, but Henriksen still resides there. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 10-11). The house needed repairs, and Henriksen wrote the check to Plaintiff to fund the work. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 11-12).

         When Plaintiff attempted to deposit the check, she noticed the back had been marked “void.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 16). According to Plaintiff, the bank teller told her that “this sort of thing had happened before, ” and the teller said she would find someone to help Plaintiff. (Am. Compl. ¶ 17). Jeanie Sharp Ramey (“Ramey”), a white female, instructed Plaintiff to call Henriksen to bring down another check, or Ramey offered to print one if she did not have another check. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 18-19). Henriksen came to the bank and drew a $30, 000 bank check which was deposited into Plaintiff's account. (Am. Compl. ¶ 21).

         After this deposit was made, Plaintiff attempted to use her bank account to pay for a cruise. (Am. Compl. ¶ 23). Plaintiff had previously collected money from Henriksen and other parishioners for other group cruises and then paid the full amount from her account. (Am. Compl. ¶ 22). This time, however, the payment was declined. (Am. Compl. ¶ 23). When Plaintiff visited a Chase branch to determine why the payment was declined, a manager informed her that a global freeze had been placed on her account, and that someone would contact her about the matter. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 24-25).

         Later that day, Chase employee Lisa Peterson (“Peterson”) contacted Plaintiff. (Am. Compl. ¶ 26). Peterson informed Plaintiff her account had been frozen because the bank was conducting an investigation. (Am. Compl. ¶ 26). Peterson then asked Plaintiff a series of questions that Plaintiff describes as “essentially accus[ing] her of taking advantage of Ms. Henriksen by getting her to fund everything Ms. Coleman did, financing her cruises, and paying her bills.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 27). Peterson stated she noticed Henriksen had been giving checks regularly to Plaintiff. (Am. Compl. ¶ 28). Plaintiff acknowledges this “was true since Ms. Henriksen had been tithing to her Pastor, i.e., Plaintiff.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 28).

         Plaintiff grew weary of what she viewed as Peterson's accusations and decided to contact her attorney and Henriksen. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 30-31). Subsequently, Henriksen went to Chase and spoke to Peterson. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 32, 34). Peterson asked Henriksen questions regarding matters such as how long Henriksen had known Plaintiff and the name of Plaintiff's church.[1] (Am. Compl. ¶ 35). Henriksen asked why she had to answer these questions, stating she was free to do whatever she wished with her money. (Am. Compl. ¶ 37). Peterson replied that her job was to protect Chase customers from fraud, and Henriksen advised that she needed no such protection. (Am. Compl. ¶ 38). Plaintiff's attorney subsequently sent a letter to Chase seeking an explanation of why her account was frozen. (Am. Compl. ¶ 40). Chase never responded but sent Plaintiff a letter informing her that her account had been closed. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 40-41).

         In this lawsuit, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant discriminated against her because of her race in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and KRS 344.120. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 48-51). Plaintiff further asserts claims for breach of contract, conversion of personal property, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and slander per se. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 52-53, 57-59, 60-66).


         Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 8, a complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) is an affirmative defense that permits a defendant to seek dismissal of a case for a plaintiff's failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).

         In ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court must determine whether a plaintiff's complaint asserts adequate factual matter to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). In reviewing a motion to dismiss, the Court “must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, ” but need not accept the complaint's legal conclusions as true. League of United Latin Am. Citizens v. Bredesen, 500 F.3d 523, 527 (6th Cir. 2007) (citation omitted); Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. To satisfy the pleading requirements, a plaintiff must assert “more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation, ” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). In ruling on the motion, the Court may consider the complaint and any exhibits attached thereto, public records, items appearing in the record of the case, and exhibits attached to the defendant's motion to dismiss provided such are referenced in the complaint and central to the claims therein. See Bassett v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 528 F.3d 426, 430 (6th Cir. 2008); see also Stringfield v. Graham, 212 Fed.Appx. 530, 535 (6th Cir. 2007) (stating that documents “attached to and cited by [the] complaint . . . are considered parts thereof under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 10(c)”).

         III. DISCUSSION[2]

         A. Unlawful Discrimination in Violation of 42 U.S.C. § ...

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