United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
Welch, Plaintiff, represented by Chad C. Beaver, Beaver Law
Pacific Railroad Company, Defendant, represented by
Christopher C. Confer, Yeretsky & Maher & Craig M. Leff,
Yeretsky & Maher.
ORDER AND OPINION GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
D. SMITH, Senior District Judge.
is Defendant Union Pacific Railroad Company's
("Union Pacific") Motion to Dismiss for Failure to
State a Claim. Doc. #5. Union Pacific's motion is
April 2014, Plaintiff Scott Welch filed a complaint with the
Department of Labor's ("DOL") Occupational
Safety and Health Administration ("OSHA") alleging
Union Pacific violated the Federal Railway Safety Act
("FRSA"). In October 2014, the DOL determined there
was "no reasonable cause" to believe Union Pacific
violated the FRSA. Doc. #6-4, at 1. The DOL informed Welch he
had thirty days to file objections and request a hearing
before an administrative law judge. Id. at 2. The
DOL also stated "[i]f no objections are filed, these
Findings will become final and not subject to court
review." Id. Welch did not object to the
determination or request a hearing.
April 2016, Welch filed his Petition in the Circuit Court of
Jackson County, Missouri, alleging wrongful termination for
reporting violations of laws, statutes, regulations, or
rules; refusing to perform an illegal act or an act contrary
to the mandate of public policy; providing truthful testimony
in a quasi-judicial proceeding about safety violations
unfavorable to his employer; and/or otherwise acting in
manner public policy would encourage. Doc. #1-1, at 8-9.
Union Pacific removed the matter to this Court.
Pacific argues Welch's Petition should be dismissed for
failure to state a claim because the claims are barred by res
judicata and collateral estoppel, Welch has already elected
his remedies under the FRSA by filing a complaint with the
DOL and cannot seek state law relief for the same
allegations, and Missouri law does not recognize a common-law
retaliation action for violation of public policy because the
FRSA provides an adequate statutory remedy.
liberal pleading standard created by the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure requires Aa short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.@
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per
curiam) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). "Specific facts
are not necessary; the statement need only give the defendant
fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon
which it rests." Id. (citing Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). In ruling
on a motion to dismiss, the Court Amust accept as true all of
the complaint's factual allegations and view them in the
light most favorable to the Plaintiff." Stodghill
v. Wellston Sch. Dist., 512 F.3d 472, 476 (8th Cir.
To survive a 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. 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. The
plausibility standard is not akin to a probability
requirement, but it asks for more than a sheer possibility
that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Where a complaint
pleads facts that are merely consistent with a
defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between
possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
In keeping with these principles a court considering a motion
to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that,
because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled
to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can
provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported
by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual
allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then
determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement
Id. at 679. A claim is facially plausible if it
allows the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the conduct alleged. SeeHorras v. Am.
Capital Strategies, Ltd.,729 F.3d 798, 801 (8th Cir.
2013); Braden v. Wal-Mart ...