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Connie Cheadle v. Genco I

November 17, 2011

CONNIE CHEADLE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GENCO I, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Smith

Magistrate Judge King

OPINION AND ORDER

This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings (Doc. 4). This motion is fully briefed and ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS Defendant's motion.

I. BACKGROUND

In May 2011, Plaintiff Connie Cheadle initiated this action against Defendant GENCO I, Inc., alleging claims of Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") violations, intentional and/or negligent infliction of emotional distress, and wrongful termination in violation of public policy. These claims arise out of the termination of Plaintiff's employment with Defendant. Plaintiff alleges that she requested leave under the FMLA due to her husband's serious health condition, and that Defendant considered this fact in disciplining her and ultimately terminating her employment. Although initially filed in state court, this action was removed to this Court as one arising under federal law. In June 2011, Defendant filed its Answer (Doc. 3) and a Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) (Doc. 4). Defendant moved for judgment in its favor on Plaintiff's claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and wrongful discharge in violation of public policy. This motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) provides that "[a]fter the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay trial-a party may move for judgment on the pleadings." It is well-settled that the standard of review for a motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) is the same as that used to address a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). See, e.g., Lindsay v. Yates, 498 F.3d 434, 438 (6th Cir. 2007); Morgan v. Church's Fried Chicken, 829 F.2d 10, 11 (6th Cir. 1987) (noting that where a Rule 12(b)(6) defense of failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted is raised by a Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings, the Court must apply the standard for a Rule 12(b)(6) motion).

Rule 12(b)(6) permits dismissal of a lawsuit for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss is directed solely to the complaint and any exhibits attached to it. Roth Steel Prods. v. Sharon Steel Corp., 705 F.2d 134, 155 (6th Cir. 1983). The merits of the claims set forth in the complaint are not at issue on a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Consequently, a complaint will be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) only if there is no law to support the claims made, or if the facts alleged are insufficient to state a claim, or if on the face of the complaint there is an insurmountable bar to relief. See Rauch v. Day & Night Mfg. Corp., 576 F.2d 697, 702 (6th Cir. 1978). Rule 12(b)(6) must be read in conjunction with Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which requires the complaint to contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief[.]"

A court, in considering a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, must "construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff," accepting as true all the plaintiff's factual allegations. Gunasekera v. Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th Cir. 2009). Although in this context all of the factual allegations in the complaint are taken as true, a court is "not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Consequently, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009).

Furthermore, to survive dismissal pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a claim must contain sufficient factual matter to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Twombly, at 570. "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." Iqbal, at 1950. While a complaint need not contain "detailed factual allegations," its "factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true." Twombly, at 555. "[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged -- but it has not 'show[n]' -- 'that the pleader is entitled to relief.' " Iqbal, at 1950(quoting Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 8(a)(2)). In the final analysis, the task of determining plausibility is "context-specific [and] requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id.

Accordingly, the Court will grant a motion for judgment on the pleadings if there is an absence of law to support a claim of the type made, or of facts sufficient to make a valid claim, or if on the face of the complaint there is an insurmountable bar to relief indicating that the plaintiff does not have a claim. Little v. UNUM Provident Corp., 196 F. Supp.2d 659, 662 (S.D. Ohio 2002) (Graham, J.) (citing Rauch). Stated differently, "[f]or purposes of a motion for judgment on the pleadings, all well-pleaded material allegations of the pleadings of the opposing party must be taken as true, and the motion may be granted only if the moving party is nevertheless clearly entitled to judgment." JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. v. Winget, 510 F.3d 577, 581 (6th Cir. 2007) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).

III. DISCUSSION

Plaintiff essentially asserts four claims against Defendant: an FMLA violation claim, and Ohio law claims of intentional inflection of emotional distress, negligent inflection of emotional distress, and wrongful termination in violation of public policy. Defendant moves ...


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