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Mason v. USEC Inc.

August 27, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas W. Phillips United States District Judge


In the instant action, plaintiff claims that, after his term of employment with defendant, defendant committed unlawful actions to hinder and restrain his future employability. The defendant has filed a motion to dismiss [Doc. 2] pursuant to Rule 12(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, alleging that the plaintiff executed a release, which precludes the plaintiff's claims; the plaintiff failed to file this action within the appropriate statutes of limitation for certain claims; and that the amended complaint otherwise fails to state a cause of action upon which relief can be granted. In response, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint alleging additional theories of liability, as well as filed his response in opposition to defendant's motion to dismiss. The Court has carefully considered the parties' arguments. For the reasons that follow, defendant's dispositive motion [Doc. 2] is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part as set forth below.*fn1

I. Facts

As the law requires, all disputed facts and inferences are resolved most favorably to the plaintiff. Furthermore, the Court merely provides an abridged summary of relevant facts for the purposes of this opinion.

Plaintiff David L. Mason ("Mason") began employment with the defendant USEC, Inc. ("USEC") on June 30, 2000. On September 30, 2005, plaintiff was advised that his services were no longer needed and that his employment would effectively end on October 7, 2005. With the plaintiff's departure, the parties entered into a separation agreement in which the plaintiff received a severance and the defendant received a general release of claims as well as the understanding that the plaintiff would not be permitted to compete with competitive businesses for one (1) year.

At the time the severance agreement was entered into, plaintiff alleges that the defendant knowingly made false statements concerning alleged security violations by plaintiff to the Department of Energy ("DOE") and withheld such actions from him. Plaintiff further alleges that these false statements caused plaintiff to lose his security clearance, which adversely affected his employment marketability.*fn2 There had been no mention by USEC to plaintiff of any alleged security violations committed by plaintiff, nor had one been committed.

On or about May 11, 2006, plaintiff allegedly discovered defendant's improper actions. Shortly thereafter, on November 1, 2006, the plaintiff filed suit against USEC alleging the following claims, as set forth in plaintiff's second amended complaint: 1) intentional/reckless interference with business relationship, 2) a deceptive act and/or trade practice, 3) inducement to breach a direct or implied contract between plaintiff and the DOE, 4) defamation by means of libel and slander, 5) breach of the implied duty and obligation of good faith of the employer with regard to the separation agreement between the plaintiff and defendant, and 6) fraudulent inducement to contract.

II. Standard of Review

Before the Court is a motion to dismiss. While styling the motion as one for dismissal, in its memorandum in support of the motion, the defendant argues from the summary judgment point of view. The Court notes that Fed.R.Civ.P 12(b) requires the Court to treat the motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) as a motion for summary judgment if matters outside of the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the Court. The Court will therefore consider the motion as one for summary judgment.

Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment will be granted by a court only when there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The burden is on the moving party to conclusively show that no genuine issue of material fact exists. A court must view the facts and all inferences to be drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); Morris v. Crete Carrier Corp., 105 F.3d 279, 280-81 (6th Cir.1997); 60 Ivy Street Corp. v. Alexander, 822 F.2d 1432, 1435 (6th Cir.1987).

Once the moving party presents evidence sufficient to support a motion under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the nonmoving party is not entitled to a trial simply on the basis of allegations. The non-moving party is required to come forward with some significant probative evidence, which makes it necessary to resolve the factual dispute at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986). The moving party is entitled to summary judgment if the non-moving party fails to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of its case with respect to which it has the burden of proof. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323; Collyer v. Darling, 98 F.3d 220 (6th Cir. 1996).

III. Motion for Summary Judgment and Applicable Law

The defendant asserts the following arguments: 1) plaintiff's claims are barred by the September 20, 2005 severance agreement and general release; 2) the applicable statutes of limitation preclude certain claims; and/or 3) plaintiff has failed to state an actionable claim upon which ...

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