United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. ROSS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendants Heartland Automotive
Services, Inc., d/b/a Jiffy Lube's
("Heartland"), and Raphael Doriety's Motion to
Dismiss Count II Against Heartland And to Dismiss Plaintiffs
Request for Attorney Fees (Doc. 15), and Motion for Attorney
Fees (Doc. 13). The motions are fully briefed. (Docs. 14, 16,
alleges the following facts: She was hired in August 2015 to
work at the Jiffy Lube on North New Florissant Road in
Florissant, Missouri, where Doriety was employed as a
supervisor. (Doc. 10 at 2.) On August 25, 2015, "[a]fter
making several sexually suggest[ive] comments to [Plaintiff],
Doriety grabbed [Plaintiffs] breasts." (Id.)
"Soon thereafter, " Doriety asked Mauller to join
him in the office at the Jiffy Lube. (Id.) When
Plaintiff entered, Doriety closed and locked the door and
positioned himself between Plaintiff and the exit.
(Id. at 2-3.) Doriety intimated that he would help
Plaintiff with payroll issues and schedule her for additional
hours in exchange for sexual favors. (Id. at 3.) He
"then moved toward [Plaintiff] and unzipped the fly of
his pants and said: 'I need some assistance.'"
(Id.) Plaintiff asked Doriety to unlock the door,
left work, and reported the incident to police.
(Id.) She did not return.
March 28, 2013, Plaintiff sued Defendants in state court.
(Doc. 16-2.) She alleged that Heartland discriminated against
her in violation of the Missouri Human Rights Act; that
Doriety committed assault, battery, and false imprisonment
under Missouri law; and that Heartland negligently failed to
provide a safe workplace. (See Doc.
16-2.) Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiffs
third count for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, arguing
that the Missouri Workers' Compensation Law preempts
common-law tort claims against an employer. (Doc. 16-6.)
Defendants later asked the court to alternatively construe
its motion as a motion to dismiss for failure to state a
claim or a motion for judgment on the pleadings. (Doc. 16-3.)
After briefing and oral argument on the motion, the court
granted the motion and dismissed Plaintiffs tort-law claims
against Heartland for failure to state a claim. (Docs. 16-3
to 16-7.) On Plaintiffs motion, the court dismissed the case
without prejudice before trial. (Doc. 14-6.)
August 7, 2017, Plaintiff filed this federal suit, advancing
two claims: in Count I, she alleges discrimination under
Title VII by Heartland; in Count II, she alleges state-law
assault, battery, and false imprisonment by both defendants.
(Doc. 1 at 3-5.) She seeks damages and attorney fees.
(Id. at 5.)
moved to dismiss Plaintiffs Title VII claim and urged the
court not to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over
Plaintiffs remaining Missouri tort claims. (Doc. 5 at 6.)
Defendants additionally argued that Plaintiffs state-law
claims are barred by issue preclusion and fail on the merits.
(Id. at 7-8.) The Court granted the motion and
dismissed Plaintiffs Title VII claim on the ground that she
failed to allege that she gave Jiffy Lube its legally
required notice and opportunity to address the harassment
before filing suit. (Doc. 9.) The Court reserved ruling on
the issues surrounding Plaintiffs state-law claims, and
granted Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint. (Doc.
9.) In her Amended Complaint, Plaintiff additionally alleges
that she notified Jiffy Lube of the harassment through its
online complaint procedure, and that she "was contacted
by a representative of Jiffy Lube" thereafter. (Doc. 10
at 3, 8-9.)
now move to dismiss Plaintiffs state-law claims against
Heartland on the basis of issue preclusion based on the state
court's ruling that Plaintiffs tort claims were
prohibited under Missouri law. (Doc. 16 at 3-5.) In addition,
Defendants have filed their own Motion for Attorney Fees for
the cost of defending Heartland against the state tort
claims, arguing that those claims are frivolous in light of
the state court's ruling. (Doc. 4.)
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Count II as against
survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6),
"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, 768 (2009) (citing Bell Ail. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "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."
argue that the state court's order preclude Plaintiff
from raising her state-tort claims against Heartland in this
federal action. (Doc. 16 at 3-4.) Federal courts must look to
state law to determine the preclusive effect of a state-court
judgment on future federal suits. Marrese v. Am. Acad, of
Orthopaedic Surgeons, 470 U.S. 373, 374 (1985). Under
Missouri's issue preclusion doctrine, a party may not
raise an issue that is (1) identical to one raised in a prior
proceeding; when (2) there was a judgment on the merits of
the issue in the prior proceeding; (3) the precluded party
was a party in the prior proceeding; and (4) had a full and
fair opportunity in the prior proceeding to litigate the
issue. Woods v. Mehlville Chrysler-Plymouth, 198
S.W.3d 165, 168 (Mo.Ct.App. 2006).
advanced the same state-law tort claims in state court
against the same defendants as she does here.
(Compare Doc. 10 with Doc. 16-3.)
Nevertheless, Plaintiff asserts that her state-law tort
claims are not precluded because the case was voluntarily
dismissed without prejudice, meaning there was no judgment on
the merits. (Doc. 17.) Defendants respond that Plaintiffs
voluntary dismissal took place after the state court had
already held that Plaintiff had failed to state a claim upon
which relief on those claims could be granted. (Doc. 18 at
3-4; see also Doc. 16-4.)
Court agrees with Defendants. "Principles of issue
preclusion dictate that, even when a [case is dismissed]
without prejudice, an issue specifically and necessarily
decided by that court is final and may not be relitigated in
a second action brought in a court of concurrent
jurisdiction." Bachman v. Bachman, 997 S.W.2d
23, 25 (Mo.Ct.App. 1999), opinion adopted and reinstated
after retransfer (Sept. 1, 1999). Such is the case here:
Plaintiffs voluntary dismissal took place after the
state court had dismissed the claims following full briefing
and oral argument. ...