United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Northern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. BODENHAUSEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendants City of Vandalia
(“Vandalia”), Christopher Hammann
(“Hammann”), Gabriel Jennings
(“Jennings”), Robert Dunn (“Dunn”),
John Weiser (“Weiser”), Dempsey Dixon
(“Dixon”), Ralph Kuda (“Kuda”),
Deborah Hopke (“Hopke”), Ramon Barnes
(“Barnes”), Janet Turner (“Turner”),
Teresa Wenzel (“Wenzel”), and W. Alan
Winders' (“Winders”) (collectively
Defendants) Partial Motion to Dismiss Count IV of the First
Amended Complaint (ECF No. 15). Plaintiffs Raymond Bumbales
(“Bumbales”), William Parker
(“Parker”), and William Jones
(“Jones”) (collectively “Plaintiffs”)
have filed a response in opposition and the issues are fully
briefed. The parties consented to the jurisdiction of the
undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). For the
reasons set forth below, the Court grants the partial motion
to the allegations in the First Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs
were police officers employed by Vandalia, a fourth-class
city located in Audrain County, Missouri. (Plaintiffs'
First Amended Complaint, ECF No. 13 at ¶¶ 21-23)
Plaintiffs allege that Defendants Hamman, Jennings, Dunn,
Weiser, Dixon, Kuda, Hopke, Barnes, Turner, Wenzel, Elkins,
and Winders were all either employees of Vandalia, members of
the Vandalia board of alderman, or the mayor. (Id.
at ¶¶ 5-19)
Count IV of the First Amended Complaint, styled Wrongful
Termination in Violation of Public Policy, directed to all
Defendants except Donald Elkins, Plaintiffs purport to state
a claim for wrongful termination against public policy.
(Id. at ¶¶ 25-27, 136-46) Plaintiffs
allege that they were employed by Defendants as police
officers with the Vandalia Police Department. (Id.
at ¶ 137) Bumbales and Parker allege that their
employment was terminated because they reported wrongdoings
and violations of law committed by Chase Waggoner
(“Waggoner”) and they filed EEOC complaints.
(Id. at ¶¶ 138, 140-41) Jones alleges that
his employment was terminated because he reported wrongdoings
and violations of law committed by Waggoner as well as
reporting instances of national origin and disability
discrimination to his supervisors. (Id. at ¶
filed a partial motion to dismiss Count IV, arguing that (1)
the individual Defendants are not employers for purposes of a
wrongful termination claim, (2) Vandalia is entitled to
sovereign immunity, and (3) Plaintiffs' claim in Count IV
is preempted by the Missouri Whistleblower's Protection
Act (“WPA”), Mo. Rev. Stat. § 285.575, a
recently enacted statute prohibiting such claims against
response, Plaintiffs oppose the requested retroactive
application of § 285.575 to their wrongful termination
claim in Count IV.
their reply, Defendants note that Plaintiffs did not oppose
their partial motion to dismiss as to that their claim
against Vandalia being barred by sovereign immunity and the
individual Defendants not being employers for purposes of a
wrongful termination claim.
purpose of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) is to test
the legal sufficiency of the complaint. Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). The factual allegations of a complaint are assumed
true and construed in favor of the plaintiff, “even if
it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is
improbable, ” Bell v. Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007) (citing
Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 508 n.1
(2002)); Neitzke v. Williams. 490 U.S. 319, 327
(1989) (“Rule 12(b)(6) does not countenance …
dismissals based on a judge's disbelief of a
complaint's factual allegations.”); Scheuer v.
Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974) (stating that a
well-pleaded complaint may proceed even it if appears
“that a recovery is very remote and unlikely.”).
The issue is not whether the plaintiff will ultimately
prevail, but whether the plaintiff is entitled to present
evidence in support of his claim. Scheuer, 416 U.S.
at 236. A viable complaint must include “enough facts
to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570; see also
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-84 (2009) (holding
that the pleading standard set forth in Twombly
applies to all civil actions). “Factual allegations
must be enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
Allegations in the First Amended Complaint
purposes of the motion now before the Court, the record set
forth in the First Amended Complaint (ECF No. 13) establishes
the following facts:
Hamman, Jennings, Dunn, Weiser, Dixon, Kuda, Hopke, Barnes,
Turner, Wenzel, Elkins, and Winders were all either employees
of Vandalia, members of the Vandalia board of alderman, or
the mayor. (Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint, ECF No.
13 at ¶¶ 5-19) Plaintiffs allege that Vandalia was
their employer and that Vandalia terminated or constructively
discharged Bumbales' employment on April 25, 2017, and
terminated Jones and Parker's employment April 12, 2017.
(Id. at ¶¶ 21-26, 27-29) Plaintiffs allege
that “[t]he events giving rise to this cause of action
predated the recent legislative revisions to the Missouri
Human Rights Act, which went into effect on August 28,
2017.” (Id. at ¶ 26 n.1)
were employed as police officers with the Vandalia Police
Department. (Id. at ¶ 137) Bumbales and Parker
allege that their employment was terminated because they
reported wrongdoings and violations of law committed by
Waggoner and they filed EEOC complaints. (Id. at
¶¶ 138, 140-41) Jones alleges that his employment
was terminated because he reported wrongdoings and violations
of law committed by Waggoner ...