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Johnson v. Dollar General Corp.

August 2, 2007


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


Before the Court is Defendant Dolgencorp, Inc.'s*fn1 ("Defendant") motion to dismiss (Court File No. 3) and memorandum in support (Court File No. 4). Plaintiff Jesse Thomas Johnson ("Plaintiff") filed a response (Court File No. 7) in opposition to Defendant's motion. For the following reasons, the Court will GRANT Defendant's motion (Court File No. 3).


After reviewing all of the documents submitted by both parties, the Court finds the following facts relevant to deciding Defendant's motion. On or about November 3, 2003, Plaintiff was hired by Defendant to work at a Dollar General Store in Johnson City, Tennessee (Court File No. 1, Complaint ("Compl."), Part III, ¶ 1). Plaintiff was discharged from employment on December 24, 2003 (id. at ¶ 20).

On August 14, 2006, Plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court, alleging he endured "uninvited, illegal, unlawful and egregious conduct designed to intentional [sic] inflict emotional distress on him" (id. at p. 1). Plaintiff went on to state Defendant deprived him "of his civil rights, subjected him to blatant sex discrimination, subjected him to demeaning and continuing sexual harassment, forced him to endure a continuing sexually hostile work environment, unlawfully restrained his person and was ultimately wrongfully and in retaliatory [sic] discharged from Defendant's employment because of his reporting the sexual misconduct of the employer's management and other employees" (id. at pp. 1-2). Plaintiff claims that his assistant manager, Skip Davis, and his co-worker, Robert Watford, are responsible for this alleged misconduct (id. at ¶ 27).

According to the complaint, Plaintiff seeks relief pursuant to "Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. Sections 1983, 2000e, et seq., 28 U.S.C. Sections 1331 and 1346, the Tennessee Human Rights Act ("THRA"), Tenn. Code Ann. Section 4-21-101, et seq., and under Federal and Tennessee Common Law" (id. at p. 1). Defendant moves to dismiss all but one of Plaintiff's claims.


When reviewing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), the Court must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and accept all the complaint's factual allegations as true. Bloch v. Ribar, 156 F.3d 673, 677 (6th Cir. 1998); Broyde v. Gotham Tower, Inc., 13 F.3d 994, 996 (6th Cir. 1994). The Court may not grant a motion to dismiss based upon a disbelief of a complaint's factual allegations. Miller v. Currie, 50 F.3d 373, 377 (6th Cir. 1995) (noting courts should neither weigh evidence nor evaluate the credibility of witnesses); Lawler v. Marshall, 898 F.2d 1196, 1199 (6th Cir. 1990). Rather, the Court must liberally construe the complaint in favor of the party opposing the motion and determine whether the plaintiff has pled "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007) (rejecting the traditional 12(b)(6) standard set forth in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)).

In deciding a motion to dismiss, the question is "not whether [the] plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims." Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 511 (2002) (citations and quotation marks omitted). However, bare assertions of legal conclusions are insufficient. 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. (emphasis in original).


Defendant moves to dismiss all of Plaintiff's claims, except those brought pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e ("Title VII"). As grounds, Defendant states Plaintiff's state-law and federal common law claims are barred by the applicable statute of limitations. Furthermore, Defendant states Plaintiff has no action under § 1983 because the complaint does not allege Defendant was acting under color of state law. Finally, Defendant contends Plaintiff's disparate impact claim should be dismissed because the complaint does not allege any facts to support such a claim. The Court will address each of Defendant's arguments in turn.

A. Personal Tort Claims and THRA Claim

Defendant argues Plaintiff's state-law claims for physical assault, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and claims under the THRA are subject to a one-year statute of limitations. Since Plaintiff's complaint was filed one-year after the alleged conduct took place, Defendant requests the Court to dismiss these claims. In support of its argument, Defendant citesTenn. Code Ann. § 28-3-104 (establishing a one-year statute of limitations for personal tort actions) and Mason v. Metro. Dev. and Hous. Agency,No. 01-A-01-9806-CH-00283, 1999 WL 326177, *3 (Tenn. Ct. App. May 25, 1999) ("The statute of limitations for filing complaints under the Tennessee Human Rights Act is one year.").

The Court is unsure what Plaintiff's response is to Defendant's argument. While Plaintiff states he does not disagree with the holding in Mason, he also engages in a lengthy discussion of how it is "clear that the factual allegations could give rise to traditional state law tortious causes of action, such as false imprisonment or assault or intentional infliction of emotion distress . . ."; there is federal common law; the use of the words false imprisonment, assault, and intentional infliction of emotional distress "do not equate to the Plaintiff filing for relief under a state law action, but may go to damages the Plaintiff is entitled to by a jury award"; and ...

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