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Baggett v. Kroger Co.

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

January 27, 2015

BOBBY BAGGETT, Plaintiff,
v.
THE KROGER COMPANY, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

ALETA A. TRAUGER, District Judge.

Pending before the court is a Motion to Dismiss (Docket No. 5) filed by the defendant, Kroger Limited Partnership I ("Kroger"), [1] to which the plaintiff, Bobby Baggett, has filed a Response in opposition (Docket No. 8), and the defendant has filed a Reply (Docket No. 9). For the reasons stated herein, the defendant's Motion to Dismiss will be granted and the plaintiff's claim will be dismissed with prejudice.

BACKGROUND[2]

The plaintiff is a former employee of Kroger, a corporation with grocery stores located throughout Tennessee. In early 2013, Baggett suffered an injury at work. He subsequently filed a workers' compensation claim against Kroger. As a result of his injury, Baggett's work duties were restricted by his doctor; however, Kroger was able to find work for him that met the restrictions put in place by his doctor.

On September 18, 2013, Kroger terminated Baggett's employment. According to the Complaint, Kroger informed Baggett at the time of his termination that his employment was terminated because Kroger could not accommodate his work restrictions. The Complaint further alleges that, at some later time, Baggett discovered that, in truth, he was terminated because he had filed a workers' compensation claim against Kroger.

On September 19, 2014, Baggett filed the Complaint in the Chancery Court of Dickson County, Tennessee. (Docket No. 1, Ex. A.) Baggett alleged that Kroger violated Tennessee common law by discharging him in retaliation for his workers' compensation claim. Baggett further alleged that he suffered lost wages and was entitled to a money judgment, including punitive damages.

Kroger removed the action to this court on October 17, 2014, alleging diversity jurisdiction. (Docket No. 1.) On October 24, 2014, Kroger filed the pending Motion to Dismiss. (Docket No. 5.)

ANALYSIS

I. Rule 12(b)(6) Standard

In deciding a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), the court will "construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accept its allegations as true, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff." Directv, Inc. v. Treesh, 487 F.3d 471, 476 (6th Cir. 2007); Inge v. Rock Fin. Corp., 281 F.3d 613, 619 (6th Cir. 2002). The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require only that a plaintiff provide "a short and plain statement of the claim that will give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957). The court must determine only whether "the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims, " not whether the plaintiff can ultimately prove the facts alleged. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 511 (2002) (quoting Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)).

The complaint's allegations, however, "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). To establish the "facial plausibility" required to "unlock the doors of discovery, " the plaintiff cannot rely on "legal conclusions" or "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, " but, instead, the plaintiff must plead "factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009). "[O]nly a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss." Id. at 679; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.

II. The Defendant's Motion

The defendant has made three arguments with regard to dismissal. First, Kroger argues that Baggett's claim is time-barred by the applicable statute of limitations. Second, Kroger argues that Baggett has failed to allege an essential element of his claim-his status as an at-will employee. And third, Kroger argues that the Complaint otherwise fails to state a claim for relief. Because the court concludes that the plaintiff's claim ...


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