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Pettway v. Logistics Solutions Group, Inc.

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

November 28, 2018



          David L. Bunning United States District Judge

         Abraham Pettway is a dispatcher at a Transportation Motor Pool facility servicing the Fort Knox Army post. (Docket No. 20, PageID # 200) Pettway's supervisors allegedly discriminated against Pettway due to his race, age, gender, and perceived disability. (Id., PageID # 200-07) Although Pettway reported his supervisors' misconduct, his employers Wolverine Services LLC, Akima Support Operations LLC, and Akima LLC (collectively “Akima”) and Akima's successor, Logistics Solutions Group, Inc. (LSG) did not take corrective action. (Id., PageID # 201-05) Pettway filed this lawsuit against LSG and subsequently joined Akima, asserting claims of race, age, gender, and disability discrimination; retaliation; outrageous conduct; negligent hiring and supervision against Akima. (D.N. 1-1; D.N. 20) Akima moved to dismiss all claims against it on the grounds that Pettway did not state a claim. (D.N. 27) Pettway sought leave to amend his complaint a second time. (D.N. 30) Akima opposes Pettway's motion for leave to amend, arguing that the proposed amendment is futile for the same reasons asserted in its motion to dismiss. (D.N. 31) The Court agrees and will therefore deny Pettway's motion to amend and grant Akima's motion to dismiss.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The following facts are set out in the first amended complaint and accepted as true for purposes of the present motions. See Hill v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mich., 409 F.3d 710, 716 (6th Cir. 2005). Pettway is and has been employed as a dispatcher at a Transportation Motor Pool Facility (TMP) on Fort Knox since 2001. (D.N. 20, PageID # 200) In 2012, Akima acquired the TMP and, in assuming substantially all of the employees at the TMP, became Pettway's employer. (Id.)

         In 2013, Donnell Scott, Pettway's supervisor, began discriminating against Pettway in a variety of ways, such as denying Pettway holiday pay and treating Pettway as though he were disabled due to his age and race. (Id., PageID # 202-03) Pettway reported this misconduct to Akima through the transportation manager. (Id., PageID # 201) However, Akima did not take corrective action. (Id.)

         The discrimination against Pettway continued when Logistics Solutions Group, Inc., assumed Akima's contract in 2015; LSG retained all Akima employees, including those who mistreated Pettway. (Id., PageID # 202) Pettway reported the disparate treatment to LSG, but LSG took no action. (Id., PageID # 205) The discrimination caused Pettway to suffer monetary losses as well as anxiety, fear, worry, sleep loss, stomach pain, and physical ailments related to stress, such as high blood pressure. (Id., PageID # 209)

         Pettway brought this suit against LSG and later amended his complaint to add Akima as a defendant. (D.N. 1; D.N. 18; D.N. 20) Pettway alleges that Akima and LSG discriminated and retaliated against him in violation of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act and committed the torts of outrageous conduct and negligent hiring and supervision.[1] (Id.) He now seeks leave to amend his complaint again to supplement the factual allegations against Akima. (D.N. 30) Specifically, Pettway seeks to add examples of disparate treatment while Akima was his employer, such as being moved to a less desirable shift due to errors made by a young, white employee; Akima limiting Pettway's responsibilities and excluding him from meetings; and Pettway's coworkers making derogatory comments about his age. (D.N. 30-2, PageID # 307-11) Pettway's proposed amended complaint also modifies his description of the TMP location: rather than explicitly stating that the TMP is located on Fort Knox, Pettway now generally refers to his workplace as the TMP “providing services to Fort Knox.” (Id., PageID # 307)

         Akima opposes the proposed amendment as futile, arguing that Pettway's KCRA and outrageous-conduct claims are barred by the Federal Enclave Doctrine and that Pettway's negligent hiring and supervision claim is preempted by the Kentucky Workers Compensation Act. (D.N. 31) Akima further contends that because the claims against it are barred, they should be dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (D.N. 27) The Court agrees.

         II. STANDARD

         Leave to amend should be “freely” granted “when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). This means that “[i]n the absence of any apparent or declared reason-such as undue delay, bad faith or . . . futility of amendment, etc.-the leave sought should, as the rules require, be ‘freely given.'” Pittman v. Experian Info. Sols., Inc., 901 F.3d 619, 640-41 (6th Cir. 2018) (citing Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)). A proposed amendment is futile, and should not be permitted if it could not survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Beydoub v. Sessions, 871 F.3d 459, 469 (2017).

         To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the “complaint must 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) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). To meet this standard, a plaintiff must “plead factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. When evaluating whether this pleading standard has been satisfied, the Court must “accept all the [plaintiff's] factual allegations as true and construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the [plaintiff].” Hill, 409 F.3d at 716.

         Claims may be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) if they are barred by the Federal Enclave Doctrine. Klausner v. Lucas Film Entm't Co., No. 09-03502 CW, 2010 WL 1038228, at *4 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 19, 2010). Under the Federal Enclave Doctrine, if a state legislature consents to the purchase of land by the United States, the federal government obtains exclusive legislative power over such land unless the state reserved the right to retain legislative power. Falls Brewing Co. v. Reeves, 40 F.Supp. 35, 38-40 (W.D. Ky. 1941). If a state does not reserve legislative power, state laws in existence at the time of the acquisition are enforceable on the enclave, but subsequently enacted laws are not. Paul v. United States, 371 U.S. 245, 268 (1963). Thus, if an injury occurs on a federal enclave, claims may only be brought under laws enforceable on the enclave. See Bordetsky v. Akima Logistics Servs., LLC, No. CIV.A. 14-1786 NLH, 2014 WL 7177321, at *2 (D.N.J. Dec. 16, 2014). Pettway concedes that his proposed amendment would be futile if the Court finds that the Federal Enclave Doctrine applies here. (D.N. 30-1, PageID # 301)


         A. Pettway's Kentucky Civil Rights Act and ...

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