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Cavitt v. Wills

April 12, 2007

WILLIAM CAVITT
v.
BOB WILLS, ET AL.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Ronnie Greer United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

The plaintiff's complaint is before the Court on the defendants' motion to dismiss. [Doc. 22]. The plaintiff brought this complaint asserting causes of action for assault, fraudulent misrepresentation/breach of contract, intentional and/or negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligence, false imprisonment, and failure to pay minimum wage and overtime. The defendants assert that each of these causes of actions is barred by the applicable statute of limitations. In response, the plaintiff concedes that his causes of action for assault, false imprisonment and failure to pay minimum wage and overtime are barred by the applicable statute of limitations. Accordingly, those claims will be DISMISSED.

Background

The plaintiff, whose birth date is April 22, 1982, is a resident of the State of California. While still a minor, the plaintiff was sent to Mountain Park Boarding Academy ("Mountain Park") in Missouri around the middle of August 1999. In or about August 2000, the plaintiff was transferred from Mountain Park in Missouri to Palm Lane Boarding Academy ("Palm Lane") in Florida. The plaintiff alleges that the individual defendants operated both facilities, which plaintiff describes as private detention facilities for children.

The plaintiff was a student at these facilities from about August, 1999 until about June, 2001. The plaintiff was a Palm Lane staff member from about June 2001 until about August, 2001. At the time the plaintiff was transferred to Palm Lane, he was 18 years old. The plaintiff left Palm Lane at 19 years of age, and turned 21 years old on April 22, 2003.

Standard of Review

A motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) requires the Court to construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accept all the complaint's factual allegations as true, and determine whether the plaintiff undoubtedly can prove no set of facts in support of the claims that would entitle relief. Meador v. Cabinet for Human Resources, 902 F.2d 474, 475 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 867 (1990); see also Cameron v. Seitz, 38 F.3d 264, 270 (6th Cir. 1994). The Court may not grant such a motion to dismiss based upon a disbelief of a complaint's factual allegations. Lawler v. Marshall, 898 F.2d 1196, 1199 (6th Cir. 1990); Miller v Currie, 50 F.3d 373, 377 (6th Cir. 1995) (noting that courts should not weigh evidence or evaluate the credibility of witnesses). The Court must liberally construe the complaint in favor of the party opposing the motion. Miller, 50 F.3d at 377. However, the complaint must articulate more than a base assertion of legal conclusions. Scheid v. Fanny Farmer Candy Shops, Inc., 859 F.2d 434, 436 (6th Cir. 1988). "[The] complaint must contain either direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements to sustain a recovery under some viable legal theory." Id. (citations omitted).

Analysis

The plaintiff asserts claims related to both his stay at Mountain Park in Missouri and at Palm Lane in Florida. The parties appear to agree that Missouri's law applies to all claims related to Mountain Park and that Florida law applies to all claims related to Palm Lane.

In Missouri, the statute of limitations is tolled, as to most causes of action, for persons under the age of 21. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 516.170 provides, in pertinent part, "[e]xcept as provided in section 516.105, if any person entitled to bring an action in sections 516.100 to 516.370 specified, at the time the cause of action accrued be . . . within the age of twenty-one years, . . . such person shall be at liberty to bring such action within the respective times in § 516.100 to 516.370 limited after such disability is removed."

The statute of limitations for actions other than for the recovery of real property in the State of Florida are contained within Fla. Stat. Ann. § 95.11, providing different limitation periods for different causes of action.

Intentional and/or Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

In the State of Missouri, recovery for emotional distress as an independent tort is not permitted where such recovery would be duplicitive of the recovery for another claim arising out of the same conduct. Nazeri v Missouri Valley College, 860 S. W. 2d 303, 316 (Mo. 1993). "A separate emotional distress claim could be supported by pleading some additional wanton and outrageous act of the defendant." Id. The defendant submits that the plaintiff's claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress arises out of the same conduct which forms the basis for the plaintiff's assault claim, and, therefore, the applicable statute of limitations is that of the assault claim, which is two years under § 516.140.*fn1 The plaintiff, on the other hand, submits that he has stated additional wanton and outrageous acts in his complaint supporting a separate emotional distress claim from his assault claim, and that, the five year statute of limitations in § 516.120(4) is applicable. See Ridder v. Hibsch, 94 S.W. 3d 470, 472 (Mo. App. 2003).

There is no dispute that the plaintiff's tort actions relevant to his occupancy of the Missouri facility accrued when the plaintiff was a minor, and the statute of limitations did not began to run until his 21st birthday. Therefore, the question before the Court is whether the claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress has, as its underlying basis, the same facts ...


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