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Parsons v. Heartland Regional Medical Center

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri.

July 18, 2019

MARTHEL PARSONS, Plaintiff,
v.
HEARTLAND REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER D/B/A MOSAIC LIFE CARE, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          Roseann A. Ketchmark, Judge

         Before the Court is Defendant Heartland Regional Medical Center (“Defendant”)'s Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 7.) The Motion to Dismiss is fully briefed. After careful consideration and for the reasons below, the Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.

         Background

         On October 4, 2018, Plaintiff MartheI Parsons (“Plaintiff”) filed her Petition in the Circuit Court of Buchanan County. On November 8, 2018, Defendant removed the Petition to this Court.[1] (Doc. 1.) Plaintiff's Complaint alleges the following claims: (I) failure to accommodate in violation of the Missouri Human Rights Act (“MHRA”); (II) disability discrimination and hostile work environment in violation of the MHRA; (III) retaliation in violation of the MHRA; (IV) common law claims of breach of contract and misrepresentation; (V) violation of the Missouri Service Letter Act, § 290.140; (VI) sexual discrimination in violation of the MHRA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”); and (VII) race discrimination in violation of the MHRA and Title VII. (Doc. 1-1.) All claims arise from Plaintiff's employment with the Defendant. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiff was employed by Defendant beginning on or about September 26, 2013, through April 24, 2014. (Id.)

         On May 20, 2019, the Court held a status conference with the parties. (Doc. 21.) The Court granted the parties an opportunity to make supplemental filings on the issue of whether Plaintiff's claims were time-barred by the applicable statute of limitations. On June 3, 2019, Plaintiff and Defendant filed supplemental suggestions on the issue (docs. 23, 24). On June 18, 2019, Defendant filed a supplemental reply (doc. 25).

         Legal Standard

          To survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), “ a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell At!. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). When considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the well- pled allegations in the complaint must be accepted as true and construed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Osahar v. US. Postal Service, 297 F.3d Appx. 863, 864 (8th Cir. 2008). “A Court may dismiss a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) as barred by the statute of limitations if the complaint itself establishes that the claim is time-barred.” Illig v. Union Elec. Co., 652 F.3d 971, 976 (8th Cir. 2011). See also Varner v. Peterson Farms, 371 F.3d 1011, 1016 (8th Cir. 2004) (“when it appears from the face of the complaint itself that the limitation period has run, a limitations defense may be properly asserted through a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss”) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted)).

         Discussion

         Defendant argues dismissal is appropriate for three reasons: (1) Plaintiff's Title VII and MHRA claims are time-barred by their applicable statutes of limitations; (2) Plaintiff's state common law claims of breach of contract and misrepresentation are preempted by the MHRA; and (3) Plaintiff fails to allege facts which could support that Defendant violated the Missouri Service Letter Act. Plaintiff has responded in opposition to the Motion to Dismiss as to issues one (1) and three (3) but failed to respond as to issue two (2).

         1. Plaintiff's Title VII and MHRA claims are time-barred by the applicable statutes of limitations.

         Defendant argues that the applicable statutes of limitations bar Plaintiff's Title VII and MHRA claims. Defendant argues that Plaintiff's MHRA claims are governed by the limitations period set forth in Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.111.1, and Plaintiff's Title VII claims are governed by the limitations period set forth in 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1). Defendant argues that the limitations periods set forth in these two statutes expired prior to Plaintiff filing this case. Defendant argues that Mo. Rev. Stat.§ 516.230, the Missouri Savings Statute, is not applicable to Plaintiff's MHRA claims or Title VII claims.

         Plaintiff argues that her Title VII and MHRA are not time barred and should not be dismissed because these claims were timely filed in accord with the applicable statute of limitations. Plaintiff argues the statute of limitations applicable to her Title VII and MHRA claims is Missouri Revised Statute § 516.230, and that she filed her claims within the time period required by this statute.

         The statute of limitations applicable to Title VII claims, concerning Plaintiff's claims alleging sexual discrimination (Count VI) and race discrimination (Count VII), is set forth in 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1). This statute provides that a complainant may file a private cause of action in court under Title VII once she has received a right to sue letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and that any such action must be filed within ninety days of the complainant's receipt of this letter. See Fort Bend County, Texas v. Davis, 139 S.Ct. 1843, 1847 (2019) (discussing the process of filing a complaint with the EEOC and option thereafter “ within 90 days following [“right to sue”] notice, the complainant may commence a civil action against the allegedly offending employer”) (citing§ 2000e-5(f)(1)). “This ninety-day period constitutes a limitations period that bars a suit that is not filed within that time.” Hales v. Casey's Marketing Co., 886 F.3d 730, 736 (8th Cir. 2018).

         The statute of limitations applicable to MHRA claims, such as those made by Plaintiff in this case (Counts I-III, VI-VII), is set forth in Mo. Rev. Stat.§ 213.111.1. This statute states in relevant part that “the commission [Missouri Commission on Human Rights] shall issue to the person claiming to be aggrieved a letter indicating his or her right to bring a civil action ....” and that “[a]ny action brought in court under this section shall be filed within ninety days from the date the commission's notification letter to the individual but no ...


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