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McCartney v. Marten Transport Ltd.

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Western Division

August 1, 2018

CHRISTOPHER M. MCCARTNEY, Plaintiff,
v.
MARTEN TRANSPORT LTD., Defendant.

          James R. Knepp II United States Magistrate Judge

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

         Introduction

         This is a state-law wrongful discharge case removed to this Court from the Hancock County Common Pleas Court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. See Doc. 1. Currently pending before the Court is Defendant Marten Transport, Ltd.'s Motion to Dismiss First Amended Complaint (Doc. 12), to which Plaintiff Christopher M. McCartney filed an Opposition (Doc. 17), and Defendant filed a Reply (Doc. 18). For the reasons stated below, Defendant's motion is granted.

         Background

         For purposes of a motion to dismiss, the Court accepts the allegations in a complaint as true. See Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984).

         Plaintiff was employed by Defendant as a truck driver from August 1, 2016, through June 1, 2017. (Doc. 9, at 1). When hired, Plaintiff received a policy manual from Defendant, which included a policy stating threatening remarks will result in discipline. Id. at 2.

         In April 2017, Plaintiff's co-worker, Ken Mitchell “began verbally threatening Plaintiff.” Id. Plaintiff reported these threats to his supervisor, who informed him “the situation would be taken care of”. Id. After this initial complaint, Plaintiff continued to experience threats from Mitchell, and continued to report them to his supervisor. Id. Mitchell was never reprimanded or disciplined, nor was Defendant's human resources department notified. Id.

         On May 28, 2017, after another incident with Mitchell, Plaintiff sent a friend/coworker a text message saying “he thought Ken Mitchell wanted a fight and he was going to get a crow bar up side of his head”. Id.at 3. Plaintiff “intended this latter comment to refer to self-defense in the event of an armed or hostile attack on him by Ken Mitchell.” Id. Plaintiff also told his friend/coworker that he was frustrated by his supervisor's lack of action despite his requests, and indicated he intended to go to human resources directly. Id.

         At some point Plaintiff's supervisor contacted him indicating a desire to meet with Plaintiff and Mitchell, but this meeting never occurred. Id.

         On June 1, 2017, “Plaintiff was informed that he was being discharged for allegedly making threatening comments.” Id. He asserts his discharge “was motivated by his complaints about his co-worker's threatening and hostile behavior.” Id. at 5. Mitchell remained employed and was not disciplined or reprimanded. Id. at 4.

         Plaintiff filed suit in Hancock County Common Pleas Court in February 2018 (Doc. 1-2), and Defendant removed to this Court in March (Doc. 1). Defendant filed a motion to dismiss (Doc. 8), and Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint (Doc. 9). In his amended complaint, Plaintiff asserts a single claim for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy. Id. at 4. Defendant then filed the pending motion to dismiss the first amended complaint (Doc. 12), to which Plaintiff responded (Doc. 17), and Defendant replied (Doc. 18).

         Standard of Review

         When deciding a motion to dismiss under Federal Civil Rule 12(b)(6), the function of the Court is to test the legal sufficiency of the complaint. “In determining whether to grant a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court primarily considers the allegations in the complaint, although matters of public record, orders, items appearing in the record of the case, and exhibits attached to the complaint, also may be taken into account.” Amini v. Oberlin College, 259 F.3d 493, 502 (6th Cir. 2001). The court is required to accept the allegations stated in the complaint as true, Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984), while viewing the complaint in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974); Westlake v. Lucas, 537 F.2d 857, 858 (6th Cir. 1976).

         Although a complaint need not contain “detailed factual allegations, ” it does require more than “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Thus, a complaint survives a motion to dismiss if it “contain[s] 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, 678 (2009). And “[a] claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable ...


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