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Walpool v. Frymaster, L.L.C

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

November 16, 2017

FRED WALPOOL
v.
FRYMASTER, L.L.C. THE MANITOWOC COMPANY, INC.

          HORNSBY, MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          S. MAURICE HICKS, JR., CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

         Before the Court is Defendant Frymaster, L.L.C.'s (“Frymaster”) Motion to Dismiss (Record Document 6) Plaintiff Fred Walpool's (“Walpool”) Complaint (Record Document 1) pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on grounds that Walpool has not asserted the factual allegations to support his claims and make them plausible. If the Court declines to dismiss Walpool's action, Defendant moves to dismiss Walpool's claim for consequential damages for emotional injury. For the reasons contained in the instant Memorandum Ruling, Frymaster's Motion to Dismiss is DENIED IN PART and GRANTED IN PART.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Walpool began his employment with Frymaster in March 1994 as a welder. See Record Document 16 at 2. In August 2015, Walpool requested that he be allowed to use intermittent leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) so that he could provide transportation for his wife's physical therapy, necessitated by her stroke. See id. The intermittent leave was approved on September 4, 2015, through October 23, 2015. See id. Walpool attests that he complied with all obligations required under the FMLA, as well as Frymaster's policies. See id. However, on September 8, 2015, just four days after Walpool's intermittent FMLA leave was approved, he was terminated from Frymaster for being “absent without notice.” See id.

         On April 21, 2017, Walpool filed the instant action asserting claims under the FMLA, 29 U.S.C. § 2611 et seq against his former employers Frymaster or Manitowoc Company, Inc. (“Manitowoc”). See Record Document 1. Walpool alleges that his former employers interfered with his substantive rights under the FMLA, and subsequently discharged him in retaliation for exercising his right to FMLA leave. See id. at 3. Walpool seeks damages for past and future lost salary and benefits, liquidated damages equal to his compensatory damages, with interest, and costs, including attorneys' fees. See id. at 4.

         On July 7, 2017, Walpool filed a Voluntary Motion to Dismiss Manitowoc, requesting that Manitowoc be dismissed without prejudice. See Record Document 4. On July 11, 2017, Frymaster filed its Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Record Document 6. Frymaster seeks dismissal of Walpool's FMLA claims alleging that Walpool “has not asserted the factual allegations to support his claims and make them plausible.” See id. Subsequent to Frymaster filing its motion, Walpool filed his First Amended Complaint on August 18, 2017. See Record Document 16.

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         I. LEGAL STANDARDS

         A. Rule 12(b)(6) Standard

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure sanction dismissal where the plaintiff fails “to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A pleading states a claim for relief when, inter alia, it contains a “short and plain statement ... showing that the pleader is entitled to relief ...” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). To withstand a motion to dismiss, “a complaint must contain 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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009), citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007). A claim is facially plausible when it contains sufficient factual content for the court “to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. Plausibility does not equate to possibility or probability; it lies somewhere in between. See id. Plausibility simply calls for enough factual allegations to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence to support the elements of the claim. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, 127 S.Ct. at 1965. Although the court must accept as true all factual allegations set forth in the complaint, the same presumption does not extend to legal conclusions. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. 1949. A pleading comprised of “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” does not satisfy Rule 8. Id. Nevertheless, “[t]he notice pleading requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 and case law do not require an inordinate amount of detail or precision.” Gilbert v. Outback Steakhouse of Florida Inc., 295 Fed.Appx. 710, 713 (5th Cir. 2008) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).

         In the context of employment discrimination claims, “the ordinary rules for assessing the sufficiency of a complaint apply, ” and a plaintiff need not establish a prima facie case of employment discrimination in his complaint. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema, 534 U.S. 506, 511, 122 S.Ct. 992, 997 (2002). In other words, “[s]pecific facts are not necessary; the statement need only give the defendant fair notice of what the … claim is and the ground upon which it rests.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007). “This simplified notice pleading standard relies on liberal discovery rules and summary judgment motions to define disputed facts and issues and to dispose of unmeritorious claims.” Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512, 122 S.Ct. at 998.

         When considering a motion to dismiss, courts generally are limited to the complaint and its proper attachments. Dorsey v. Portfolio Equities, Inc., 540 F.3d 333, 338 (5th Cir.2008) (citation omitted). However, courts may rely upon “documents incorporated into the complaint by reference, and matters of which a court may take judicial notice.” Id.

         B. ...


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