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Larkins v. Regional Elite Airline Services, LLC

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

April 29, 2013

Henry Larkins, Plaintiff,
v.
Regional Elite Airline Services, LLC, et al., Defendants.

OPINION & ORDER

MICHAEL R. BARRETT, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court upon Defendants Regional Elite Airline Services, LLC and Jannie Guzick's Amended Motion to Dismiss or in the Alternative Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 19). Plaintiff Henry Larkins filed a Response (Doc. 20) and Defendants filed a Reply (Doc. 24).

I. BACKGROUND

Defendant Regional Elite Airline Service ("Regional Elite") provides ticketing and baggage handling services. (Doc. 1, ¶ 5). Defendant Jannie Guzick worked in Regional Elite's human resources department as Director of People. (Id. ¶ 13). Plaintiff Henry Larkins worked as a Human Resources Generalist for Regional Elite at its Hebron, Kentucky facility, which provided services to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport ("CVG"). (Id. ¶¶ 6, 10). Larkins is a 51 year old black male. (Id. ¶ 7).

In March of 2010, Regional Elite announced a reduction in force at its CVG facility. (Id. ¶ 12.) Regional Elite explained that it would be closing its facility and eliminating all customer service and management positions at that location. (Id. ¶ 12.) Larkins met privately with Guzick, who informed Larkins that his position as a Human Resource Generalist would be eliminated and the two remaining Human Resources Generalists, located in Detroit and Minneapolis, would assume the responsibilities of his position. (Id. ¶¶ 13-14). Larkins offered to work out of Detroit, but he was informed that a lateral transfer was not available to him. (Id. ¶¶ 15-16).

Cory Knutson, who was a Customer Service Manager for Regional Elite, provided Larkins with a severance agreement and general release ("Release"). (Id. ¶¶ 17-18). The Release released certain rights in exchange for severance pay from Regional Elite. (See Doc. 1-1). The Release provides that:

Employee forever discharges and knowingly, voluntarily, and unconditionally releases Regional Elite from and forever promises not to sue Regional Elite on any and all claims, demands, rights and causes of action he/she now has or may have against Regional Elite up to the date he/she signs this Release, including, but not limited to, claims of money, demands, rights and causes of action arising under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Civil Right Act of 1991, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), ... or any other federal law, state law, municipal law, common law, or action arising in equity, or in contract, or in tort, including

(Id.) Larkins executed the Release on his last day of work, June 1, 2010. (Doc. 1, ¶ 19). After Larkins signed the Release, Knutson informed him that his position had not been eliminated. (Id. ¶ 21). Instead, his position had been offered to Knutson, a 29-year old, white male with no previous human resources experience. (Id). Knutson informed Larkins that he had previously received an oral offer for the position, but was instructed to keep the offer secret until after Larkins had executed the Release. (Id. ¶ 22).

In his Complaint, Larkins brings the following claims: (1) race discrimination in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. ; (2) race discrimination in violation of Ohio Revised Code § 4112.02, et seq. ; (3) age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 623(a)(1); (4) age discrimination in violation of Ohio Revised Code § 4112.02, et seq. ; (5) fraud; (6) intentional infliction of emotional distress; (7) negligent infliction of emotional distress; (8) conspiracy to interfere with civil rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1985.

In their Amended Motion to Dismiss, Defendants argue that all of Larkins' claims should be dismissed for a failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). In the alternative, Defendants argue that they are entitled to summary judgment on all claims.

II. ANALYSIS

A. Standard of Review

Defendants argue that this Court should consider Larkins' deposition testimony and treat their Motion to Dismiss as one for summary judgment. Larkins responds that a motion for summary judgment is premature because discovery is not complete. Larkins relies on his declaration, which details the additional discovery which needs to be completed and what specific evidence he expects to be produced as a result of that discovery. (Doc. 20-1, Henry Larkins Decl.).

The Court concludes that summary judgment is not appropriate at this time. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d) provides: "If a nonmovant shows by affidavit or declaration that, for specified reasons, it cannot present facts essential to justify it opposition, the court may... defer considering the motion or deny it." However, to fulfill the requirements of the rule, the nonmovant must state with "some precision the materials he hopes to obtain with further discovery, and exactly how he expects those materials would help him in opposing summary judgment." Summers v. Leis, 368 F.3d 881, 887 (6th Cir. 2004) (quoting Simmons Oil Corp. v. Tesoro Petroleum ...


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