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Bryant v. U.S. Bank National Association

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

April 27, 2017

LATONYA L. BRYANT, Plaintiff,
v.
U.S. BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RONNIE L. WHITE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress Claim (ECF No. 8). This matter is fully briefed and ready for disposition.

         BACKGROUND[1]

         Plaintiff Latonya L. Bryant ("Bryant") was employed by U.S. Bank National Association ("U.S. Bank") from April 2002 until January 3, 2017. (Complaint, ECF No. 1, ¶5). Bryant alleges she was a covered employee under the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), 29 U.S.C. §§2601, et seq. (Complaint, ¶7).

         Bryant contends that she received positive performance evaluations, except for December 2015; Bryant attributes her negative December 2015 evaluation to her use of FMLA leave from April to August 2015. (Complaint, ¶14). Thereafter, Bryant was placed on a Performance Improvement Plan ("PIP") in January 2016. (Complaint, ¶15). Bryant was taken off of her PIP in February 2016, and her team was first in the office rankings from March to May 2016. (Complaint, ¶16). In August 2016, Bryant's supervisor, Michael Prophete ("Prophete") gave Bryant a strong performance evaluation and she was given an excellent rating for her mid-year score. (Complaint, ¶16). In December 2016, Prophete contacted Bryant while she was on vacation and asked her to come in to perform work. (Complaint, ¶17). Prophete also requested various employment documents from Bryant by January 6, 2017.

         Bryant claims that in January 2017 her mother, Carolyn, suffered a "serious health condition" under the FMLA. Her mother was hospitalized for chronic lung failure and kidney failure. (Complaint, ¶ll). In addition, Bryant's son suffers from autism, a "serious medical condition." (Complaint, ¶12). On January 2, 2017, Bryant's mother was hospitalized and placed on ventilation with a potential life-threatening illness. (Complaint, ¶18). On January 3, 2017, Bryant contacted The Hartford, U.S. Bank's third-party FMLA administrator, and requested FMLA intermittent leave to care for her mother. (Complaint, ¶19). That afternoon, The Hartford gave Bryant a claim number for her FMLA intermittent leave. (Complaint, ¶22). Bryant then contacted Prophete and notified him that she had requested FMLA leave to care for her mother. (Complaint, ¶21). The afternoon of January 3, 2017, Prophete called Bryant into the office and terminated her. (Complaint, ¶23). Prophete told Bryant she needed a less stressful position due to her mother's and her son's medical conditions. (Complaint, ¶24).

         On January 27, 2017, Bryant filed her Complaint, alleging claims for Retaliation (Count I) and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (Count II). On February 27, 2017, U.S. Bank filed a Motion to Dismiss Bryant's Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress Claim. (ECF No. 8).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Standard of Review

         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.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp., v. Twombly, 550 U.S 544, 570 (2007). A "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" will not suffice. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. "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." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         II. Discussion

         To state a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED") under Missouri law, "a plaintiff must plead extreme and outrageous conduct by a defendant who intentionally or recklessly causes severe emotional distress that results in bodily harm." Gibson v. Brewer, 952 S.W.2d 239, 249 (Mo.1997) (en banc) (citing KG. v. R.T.R., 918 S.W.2d 795, 799 (Mo.1996) (en banc)); Bailey v. Bayer CropScience L.P., 563 F.3d 302, 310 (8th Cir. 2009). The defendant's intent in acting must have been "only to cause extreme emotional distress to the victim." Id. (citing K.G., 918 S.W.2d at 799). "The conduct must have been 'so outrageous in character, and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency, and to be regarded as atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community.'" Id. (quoting Warrem v. Parrish, 436 S.W.2d 670, 673 (Mo. 1969)). Liability for IIED

clearly does not extend to mere insults, indignities, threats, annoyances, petty oppressions, or other trivialities. The rough edges of our society are still in need of a good deal of filing down, and in the meantime plaintiffs must necessarily be expected and required to be hardened to a certain amount of rough language, and to occasional acts that are definitely inconsiderate and unkind. There is no occasion for the law to intervene in every case where someone's feelings are hurt.

Pretsky v. Southwestern Bell Tel Co., 396 S.W.2d 566, 569 (Mo. 1965) (abrogated on other grounds) (quoting Restatement (Second) of Torts ยง 46, comment (d) ...


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