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Alexander v. Kindred Hospitals East, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division

May 1, 2017

CHRISTA J. ALEXANDER, Plaintiff,
v.
KINDRED HOSPITALS EAST, LLC d/b/a KINDRED HOSPITAL - KANSAS CITY AARON ANOTHAYANONTHA, and PATRICIA DIXON, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING PARTIAL MOTIONS TO DISMISS

          GREG KAYS, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         This lawsuit arises out of Plaintiff Christa J. Alexander's (“Plaintiff”) employment with Defendant Kindred Hospitals East, LLC d/b/a Kindred Hospital - Kansas City (“Kindred”). Plaintiff contends Kindred and the individual defendants, Kindred's Chief Executive Officer Aaron Anothayanontha (“Anothayanontha”) and Chief Clinical Nurse Patricia Dixon (“Dixon”), violated the Missouri Human Rights Act (“MHRA”) by discriminating against her on the basis of her race.

         Now before the Court are Defendants' partial motions to dismiss (Docs. 4, 24)[1] brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). Applying the Missouri Supreme Court's decision in Hill v. Ford Motor Company to the facts of the present case, the Court holds Plaintiff's failure to name Anothayanontha and Dixon in her administrative charge to the Missouri Commission on Human Rights (“MCHR”) bars Plaintiff from bringing her MHRA claims against these defendants now.

         Defendants' motions are GRANTED. The Court dismisses with prejudice all claims against Defendants Anothayanontha and Dixon in the First Amended Complaint. Because Anothayanontha is the only Defendant named in Count II, Count II is dismissed with prejudice.

         Standard

         Defendants move to partially dismiss the First Amended Complaint under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Because Defendants' subject matter jurisdiction arguments are dispositive, the Court need not address the 12(b)(6) arguments.

         Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(1) is appropriate where the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to hear the case. There are two types of challenges to subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1), “facial” attacks and “factual” attacks. Osborn v. United States, 918 F.2d 724, 729 n.6 (8th Cir. 1990). A facial attack challenges subject matter jurisdiction based on the bare allegations in the complaint, and the Court assumes the allegations in the complaint are true. A factual attack considers matters extrinsic to the pleadings to determine if it has subject matter jurisdiction. The pending motion is a facial attack because Defendants are arguing that even if the allegations in the Amended Complaint are true, the Court lacks subject matter because Plaintiff failed to exhaust her administrative remedies against Anothayanontha and Dixon before filing suit.

         Discussion

         Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint contains two counts. Count I alleges all three Defendants violated section 213.055.1 by discriminating against Plaintiff on the basis of her race and sex. Count II charges Defendant Anothayanontha only with aiding and abetting discriminatory behavior.

         Before filing her lawsuit, Plaintiff filed an administrative charge with the MCHR. The charge identified Defendant Kindred as the sole respondent. It did not mention Defendants Anothayanontha or Dixon by name anywhere in the charge.[2] In relevant part, Plaintiff's charge alleged:

On or about April 10, 2014, I was issued a final written warning for tardiness. I have reason to believe several other similarly situated black female employees were disciplined for tardiness/attendance while similarly situated white and male employees were issued verbal warnings or no discipline at all after committing the same infraction(s). I am aware that several complaints of discrimination and harassment have been filed with the corporate office and outside agencies by other black female employees against the Chief Nursing Officer throughout the summer months of 2014. No action has been taken to address the issues. On or about August 4, 2014, I was issued another final written warning for attendance and issued a negative performance evaluation. On or about August 18, 2014, I was advised my previously approved transfer to the Surgical Department had been disapproved after I spent two weeks in orientation in the Surgical Department.

Ex. A to First Am. Compl. (Doc. 19-1).

         Defendants argue Plaintiff's failure to name Anothayanontha and Dixon in her MCHR charge means she failed to exhaust her administrative remedies against them, so the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over claims against them.

         Plaintiff contends: Missouri takes a liberal approach to fulfilling the MHRA's procedural requirements; administrative remedies are deemed exhausted as to all incidents of discrimination that are like or reasonably related to the allegations in the administrative charge; and the Court should find Plaintiff exhausted her administrative remedies because Anothayanontha ...


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