United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
MAURICE L. HALL, Plaintiff,
THE NUTRO COMPANY, and MARS PETCARE US, INC., Defendants.
ORDER AND OPINION GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN
PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS
D. SMITH, SENIOR JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Count III and any claim
for punitive damages in Plaintiff's Complaint. Doc. #12.
For the reasons below, the Court grants the motion in part
and denies it in part.
brings claims against Defendants Mars Petcare US, Inc., and
The Nutro Company, alleging Defendants jointly employed
Plaintiff. Plaintiff began working for Defendants in
April 2011 as a “utility packer, ” and was a
“packing operator II” in May 2015 when Defendants
terminated his employment.
sustained an injury in February 2015 which required him to be
absent from work. Due to his injury, Plaintiff requested and
received leave pursuant to the Family Medical Leave Act
(“FMLA”). Prior to taking leave, Plaintiff
regularly worked the 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (“day
shift”). However, while Plaintiff was on FMLA leave,
his supervisor informed him that employees had voted on new
shift assignments based on seniority. Despite Plaintiff's
seniority, he was not given the opportunity to participate in
the vote, and was informed he was required to work the 6:00
p.m. to 6:30 a.m. (“night shift”) upon his return
from FMLA leave. Plaintiff complained about his lack of a
vote despite his seniority, and expressed an inability to
work the night shift due to childcare obligations, but his
supervisor indicated they would “work something
out.” Although Plaintiff was required to work the night
shift, he was informed he could arrive late and use vacation
time for the missed time.
April 28, 2015, Plaintiff was cleared to return to work, and
did so that same day. However, Plaintiff slipped and fell
only hours into that shift, aggravating his previous injury.
Plaintiff was unable to return to work until May 4, 2015,
when he reported at 10:00 p.m. for the night shift. Plaintiff
continued “in this practice” until Defendants
terminated his employment on May 27, 2015. In June 2015,
Plaintiff complained to Defendants' human resources
department that his termination was unfair because he did not
vote on the new shift assignments, and he was required to use
vacation time for the hours he was unable to work on the
brings claims for FMLA violations, retaliation in violation
of Missouri's Workers' Compensation Law
(“MWCL”), and infliction of emotional distress.
Defendants, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6), move to dismiss Count III and any claims for
punitive damages in Plaintiff's Complaint.
liberal pleading standard created by the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure requires "a 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 "must 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. 2008).
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.
is facially plausible if it allows the reasonable inference
that the defendant is liable for the conduct alleged. See
Horras v. Am. Capital Strategies, Ltd., 729 F.3d 798,
801 (8th Cir. 2013); Braden ...