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Holbrook v. Cherokee Distributing Co.

March 21, 2007

ALVIN CHARLES HOLBROOK PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHEROKEE DISTRIBUTING CO., INC. DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chief Judge Collier

MEMORANDUM

On November 21, 2006, plaintiff Alvin Charles Holbrook ("Plaintiff") filed a complaint against defendant Cherokee Distributing Company, Inc. ("Defendant") in the Circuit Court for Knox County, Tennessee (Court File No. 1-2). On December 19, 2006, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441, the matter was removed to this Court (Court File No. 1).

December 22, 2006 was a busy day on the docket sheet for this case. Plaintiff filed a motion to remand to state court (Court File No. 9). Defendant filed a motion to dismiss or in the alternative for summary judgment and a supporting memorandum (Court File Nos. 6, 8). Plaintiff filed a motion to strike (Court File No. 10) Defendant's memorandum, which was denied by this Court's Order of January 25, 2007 (Court File No. 16). Plaintiff's motion to remand was likewise denied (Court File No. 17).

On February 22, 2007, Plaintiff filed (1) a motion for joinder of parties (Court File No. 20), (2) a motion to amend/revise the complaint (Court File No. 21), and (3) a response (Court File No. 22) to Defendant's motion to dismiss or for summary judgment (the "Response"). Defendant filed a reply (Court File No. 23) to the Response, as well as Defendant's responses to the motion for joinder and the motion to revise the complaint.

All these motions are now ripe for review. For the following reasons, this Court GRANTS Defendant's motion to dismiss for Plaintiff's failure to state a claim (Court File No. 6). This case is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a Tennessee citizen. Defendant is a Tennessee corporation. From September 12, 1998*fn1 to August 30, 2005, Defendant employed Plaintiff as a sales representative (Court File No. 1-2, ¶¶ 1-4).

The complaint alleges Plaintiff was injured in the course of employment when struck by a keg (id. at ¶ 7).*fn2 Plaintiff avers he reported this incident to his supervisors, who "coerced" Plaintiff such that he did not make a workers' compensation claim (id.). Plaintiff was terminated on August 30, 2005 (id. at ¶ 11; Court File No. 22-2). Plaintiff alleges he was to be fully vested in Defendant's Employees' Profit Sharing Plan (the "Plan") as of September 1, 2005 (Court File No. 1-2, ¶ 10). Plaintiff alleges he was fired due to Defendant's concern he would file a workers' compensation claim and because he was about to vest fully in the Plan (id. at ¶¶ 15-16). Plaintiff asserts that it was Defendant's "common practice" to terminate employees when such employees came close to full vesting in the Plan (id.).

In his complaint, Plaintiff set out numbered paragraphs instead of specific counts.*fn3 In the motion to dismiss, Defendant construes Plaintiff's complaint to assert four claims:

(1) Retaliatory discharge based on the potential filing of a workers' compensation claim;

(2) Wrongful discharge to prevent Plaintiff from becoming fully vested in the Plan;

(3) Breach of contract pursuant to the Plan; and

(4) Breach of contract for violations of company policies set forth in Defendant's employee handbook (the "Handbook").

(Court File No. 8, p. 1-2.) In his Response to Defendant's motion, Plaintiff appears to accept this construction (Court File No. 22, ...


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