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Middleton v. Selectrucks of America, LLC

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

March 11, 2019

MELISSA MIDDLETON Plaintiff
v.
SELECTRUCKS OF AMERICA, LLC D/B/A/ SELECTRUCKS OF LOUISVILLE Defendant

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Rebecca Grady Jennings, District Judge United States District Court

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant SelecTrucks of America, LLC's, d/b/a SelecTrucks of Louisville (“SelecTrucks”), Partial Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [DE 11]; Plaintiff Melissa Middleton's Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint and Add New Parties [DE 16]; and SelecTrucks's Objection to Notice of Withdrawal [DE 35]. Briefing is complete, and the Motions are ripe. For the reasons below, the Court DENIES SelecTrucks's Partial Motion to Dismiss, or in the alternative, for Partial Summary Judgment, GRANTS Middleton's Motion to Amend, and OVERRULES SelecTrucks's Objection to Notice of Withdrawal.

         BACKGROUND

         Middleton filed a Complaint against SelecTrucks alleging unlawful retaliation and sex discrimination in violation of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act (“KCRA”), and unlawful retaliation in violation of the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). [DE 1, Compl.]. SelecTrucks responded by filing a Partial Motion to Dismiss, or in the alternative, Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. [DE 11]. SelecTrucks argues that it is entitled to dismissal or summary judgment because SelecTrucks does not meet the statutory definition of an employer under the KCRA and Middleton was not an eligible employee under the FMLA. Id. at 31. Middleton requested an extension of time to respond [DE 12], which the Court granted [DE 13]. Middleton then responded. [DE 14]. SelecTrucks filed a timely Reply. [DE 15].

         Two months later, Middleton moved for leave to file an amended complaint and add new parties. [DE 16]. Middleton's proposed Amended Complaint adds Daimler Trucks North America, LLC (“Daimler Trucks”) and Daimler North America Corporation (“Daimler Corp.”) (together, the “Daimler Companies”) as parties. Id. at 82. SelecTrucks is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Daimler Companies, and thus Middleton asserts the Daimler Companies may be liable as a joint employer. Id. at 83-84. SelecTrucks opposed Middleton's Motion. [DE 17]. Middleton filed a timely Reply. [DE 20]. SelecTrucks moved for leave to file a sur-reply [DE 24], which the Court granted [DE 31; DE 32].

         Several months later, Tyler Korus, one of Middleton's three attorneys, filed a Notice of Withdrawal stating that he no longer practices with Bishop Korus Friend, P.S.C. (“Bishop”). [DE 34]. Two other Bishop attorneys, John Friend and Robert Bishop, remain Middleton's counsel. Id. SelecTrucks stated that while it does not generally object to Korus's withdrawal from the case, it does object if Korus's withdrawal “attempts to absolve him from potential liability for fees and costs against counsel” from his pre-withdrawal conduct. [DE 35 at 354, 356]. A timely Response [DE 36], and Reply were filed. [DE 37].

         DISCUSSION

         A. SelecTrucks's Partial Motion to Dismiss or for Partial Summary Judgment [DE 11].

         SelecTrucks first moves for dismissal or summary judgment on Middleton's KCRA claims asserting that it did not have fifteen or more employees within the Commonwealth during the relevant period, and thus is not an employer under the KCRA. [DE 11 at 31]. SelecTrucks also moves for dismissal or summary judgment on Middleton's FMLA claims arguing that Middleton was not an eligible employee under the FMLA because SelecTrucks did not employ the required No. of individuals at or within seventy-five miles of its Louisville worksite. Id. Middleton responds that SelecTrucks is an employer under the KCRA and argues that SelecTrucks misquotes the statute. [DE 14 at 59]. Finally, Middleton argues that SelecTrucks's Motion on the FMLA claim is premature because there has been no discovery. Id. at 58.

         1. Standard of Review.

         SelecTrucks moves to dismiss or, in the alternative, for partial summary judgment. [DE 11]. The Motion includes materials outside the pleadings-specifically, Bryan Howard's affidavit. Id. at 30. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Sixth Circuit have instructed that “[i]f, on a motion under 12(b)(6) . . . matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d); see also Wysocki v. Int'l Bus. Mach. Corp., 607 F.3d 1102, 1104 (6th Cir. 2010). Consideration of affidavits not in the pleadings transforms a motion to dismiss into one for summary judgment. Sequoyah v. Tenn. Valley Auth., 620 F.2d 1159, 1161 (6th Cir. 1980). Thus, Howard's affidavit converts SelecTrucks's Motion to one for partial summary judgment on Middleton's KCRA and FMLA retaliation claims. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d).

         Under Rule 56, summary judgment is required when “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the burden of specifying the basis for its motion and showing the lack of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Once the moving party satisfies this burden, the nonmoving party must produce specific facts showing a material issue of fact for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).

         A district court considering a motion for summary judgment may not weigh evidence or make credibility determinations. Daugherty v. Sajar Plastics, Inc., 544 F.3d 696, 702 (6th Cir. 2008). The court must view the evidence and draw all reasonable inferences in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Williams v. Int'l Paper Co., 227 F.3d 706, 710 (6th Cir. 2000). But the nonmoving party must do more than show some “metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Instead, the nonmoving party must present specific facts showing that a genuine factual issue exists by “citing to particular parts of materials in the record” or by “showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence . . . of a genuine dispute[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A), (B); see also Shreve v. Franklin Cty.,743 F.3d 126, 132, 136 (6th Cir. 2014). ...


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