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Thomas v. Nash

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

March 17, 2015

MARNESS THOMAS, Plaintiff,
v.
PAMELA NASH, et al., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

E. RICHARD WEBBER, Senior District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on "Defendant Pamela Nash's Motion to Dismiss" [ECF No. 1].

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The Court accepts as true the following facts alleged in Plaintiff Marness Thomas's ("Plaintiff") Complaint [ECF No. 1]. Great Rivers Habitat Alliance v. Fed. Emergency Mgmt. Agency, 615 F.3d 985, 988 (8th Cir. 2010). Plaintiff was employed by Southwestern Bell Telephone Company ("Southwestern Bell") for 15 years. On May 17, 2013, Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination (hereinafter "Charge") with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights ("MCHR") against AT&T[1] alleging disability discrimination. She received a Notice of a Right to Sue letter from the MCHR on July 18, 2014. Subsequently, Plaintiff filed suit for disability discrimination asserting claims against both her corporate employer and Defendant Pamela Nash ("Nash"), Plaintiff's supervisor at Southwestern Bell.

Plaintiff claims Nash divulged her personal medical information, specifically relating to her asthma and hypertension conditions, to other employees. Additionally, she says Nash harassed her by appearing at her home uninvited, made unwanted phone calls, and "stalk[ed] her" by driving past her home. Plaintiff filed a complaint with management concerning Nash's behavior, whereupon Plaintiff was moved to another department. Irrespective of this, Plaintiff asseverates Nash continued to harass Plaintiff.

The continued harassment by Nash, and lack of intervention or accommodation by Southwestern Bell, Plaintiff asserts, led to her taking leave from April to August 2014, based on her exacerbated medical conditions and mental stress. Plaintiff left her employment on August 11, 2014, claiming she was constructively discharged. Plaintiff then filed a Charge with the MCHR, followed by this suit alleging unlawful employment practices and disability discrimination against both Southwestern Bell and Nash.

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

Under FRCP 12(b)(1), a party may move to dismiss a claim for "lack of subject-matter jurisdiction." The first step is determining if the 12(b)(1) motion is a facial or factual attack. Osborn v. United States, 918 F.2d 724, 729 (8th Cir. 1990). A facial attack is a motion attacking the complaint on its face while a factual attack is based on the existence of subject matter jurisdiction apart from any pleadings. Id. at 729 n. 6. Nash has made a facial attack, thus the Court will only look at the pleadings and apply the same standard and protections as if this was a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. Id.

Under FRCP 12(b)(6), a party may move to dismiss a claim for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The notice pleading standard of FRCP 8(a)(2) requires a plaintiff to give "a short and plain statement showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." To meet this standard and survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, "a 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) (internal quotations and citation omitted). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. A court accepts "as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint, " and affords the non-moving party "all reasonable inferences that can be drawn from those allegations" when considering a motion to dismiss. Jackson v. Nixon, 747 F.3d 537, 540-41 (8th Cir. 2014) (internal quotations and citation omitted). However, the Court is "not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation." Carton v. Gen. Motor Acceptance Corp., 611 F.3d 451, 454 (8th Cir. 2010) (internal citation omitted). "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (internal citation omitted). Additionally, "some factual allegations may be so indeterminate that they require further factual enhancement in order to state a claim." Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 594 (8th Cir. 2009).

A well-pleaded complaint may not be dismissed even if it appears proving the claim is unlikely and if the chance of recovery is remote. Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007). However, if a claim fails to allege one of the elements necessary to recovery on a legal theory, that claim must be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Crest Constr. II, Inc. v. Doe, 660 F.3d 346, 355 (8th Cir. 2011). Courts must assess the plausibility of a given claim with reference to the plaintiff's allegations as a whole, not in terms of the plausibility of each individual allegation. Zoltek Corp. v. Structural Polymer Grp., 592 F.3d 893, 896 n.4 (8th Cir. 2010) (internal citation omitted). This inquiry is "a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.

III. MHRA STANDARD

Nash argues the Court should dismiss Plaintiff's MHRA claim against her because Plaintiff did not exhaust her administrative remedies by failing to name Nash individually in her Charge of Discrimination.[2] See Hill v. Ford Motor Co., 277 S.W.3d 659, 669 (Mo. 2009); Borders v. Trinity Marine Prods., No. 1:20 CV 146, 2010 WL 5139343 at *2 (E.D. Mo. Dec. 9, 2010). In her Charge, Plaintiff only names AT&T (later correctly identified as Southwestern Bell) as the respondent in her Charge.

The MHRA provides:

"Any person claiming to be aggrieved by an unlawful discriminatory practice may make, sign and file with the commission a verified complaint in writing... which shall state the name and address of the person alleged to have committed the unlawful discriminatory practice and which shall set forth the ...

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