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Lutzeier v. Citigroup Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

March 2, 2015

FRED LUTZEIER, Plaintiff,
v.
CITIGROUP INC., et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

RONNIE L. WHITE, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Partial Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Complaint and Motion to Strike (ECF No. 46)[1] and Plaintiffs Motion to Strike Defendants' Affirmative Defenses and Alternative Motion for More Definite Statement and Incorporated Memorandum of Law in Support (ECF No. 53).

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff contends he was a whistleblower who was terminated by Defendants in violation of the Sarbanes-Oxley ("SOX") Act and the Dodd-Frank Act, as well as claims for violation of the Missouri public policy exception to wrongful discharge, and for age discrimination in violation of the Missouri Human Rights Act. Plaintiff alleges that he was employed as a director in the Internal Audit Group ("IA Group") in Citigroup Management Corp.'s ("CMC") offices in O'Fallon, Missouri from February 27, 2012 to February 25, 2013. On February 25, 2013, Plaintiffs employment with CMC was terminated, effective April 26, 2013. Defendants claim that Plaintiff was terminated as part of a global reorganization of the IA Group and based upon the location of his position and his "relatively brief' tenure at CMC.

DISCUSSION

I. Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Complaint and Motion to Strike

A. Standard of Review for a Motion to Dismiss

In ruling on a motion to dismiss, the Court must view the allegations in the Complaint liberally in the light most favorable to Plaintiff. Eckert v. Titan Tire Corp., 514 F.3d 801, 806 (8th Cir. 2008) (citing Luney v. SGS Auto Servs., 432 F.3d 866, 867 (8th Cir. 2005)). Additionally, the Court "must accept the allegations contained in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party." Coons v. Mineta, 410 F.3d 1036, 1039 (8th Cir. 2005) (citation omitted). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007) (abrogating the "no set of facts" standard for Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) found in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)). While 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." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; Huang v. Gateway Hotel Holdings, 520 F.Supp.2d 1137, 1140 (E.D. Mo. 2007).

B. Whistleblower under Frank Dodd

Lutzeier purports to bring a whistleblower claim under 15 U.S.C. § 78u-6(h), a provision of the Dodd-Frank Act that protects employees from retaliation for certain whistleblowing activities and disclosures. The Dodd-Frank Act amended the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, 48 Stat. 881, as amended, 15 U.S.C. § 78a et seq., to provide incentives for whistleblowers to report to the SEC in the form of a "bounty" program, through which whistleblowers may receive financial awards from the SEC for providing the SEC with original information relating to violation of the securities laws. Bussing v. COR Clearing, LLC, No. 8:12-CV-238, 2014 WL 2111207 (D. Neb. May 21, 2014)(citing 15 U.S.C. § 78u-6(b)-(g)).[2] The Dodd-Frank Act also created a private cause of action for certain individuals whose employers retaliate against them for taking certain protected actions. 15 U.S.C. § 78u-6(h). The parties dispute whether the anti-retaliation provision is applicable to this case. The anti-retaliation provision of the Dodd-Frank Act provides:

No employer may discharge, demote, suspend, threaten, harass, directly or indirectly, or in any other manner discriminate against, a whistleblower in the terms and conditions of employment because of any lawful act done by the whistleblower -
(i) in providing information to the Commission in accordance with this section;
(ii) in initiating, testifying in, or assisting in any investigation or judicial or administrative action of the Commission based upon or related to such information; or
(iii) in making disclosures that are required or protected under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (15 U.S.C. 7201 et seq.), this chapter, including section 78j-l(m) of this title, section 1513(e) of Title 18, and any other law, rule, ...

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