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Shutler v. Dunkin' Brands, Inc.

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

May 29, 2015



E. CLIFTON KNOWLES, Magistrate Judge.

I. Introduction and Background

This matter is before the Court upon Defendants' "Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment, " filed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2), (3), (6), and 56. Docket No. 13. In support of their Motion, Defendants have contemporaneously filed a supporting memorandum of law (Docket No. 14), a Statement of Undisputed Material Facts (Docket No. 15), and the Declaration of Timothy Henson with Exhibits (Docket Nos. 16-16-2). As grounds for their Motion, Defendants argue: (1) Plaintiff cannot pursue his claims against Defendant Henson because this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over him; (2) Plaintiff's claims against both Defendants under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") are time-barred; (3) Plaintiff cannot pursue his claims against Defendants because this Court is not the proper venue for his claims; and (4) Plaintiff's claims are subject to dismissal because he fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Docket No. 13.

Plaintiff has not responded to the instant Motion or to Defendants' Statement of Undisputed Material Facts, nor has he filed his own Statement of Undisputed Material Facts.[1]

Plaintiff, who, at the time he filed his Complaint in this action, lived in Hendersonville, Tennessee, filed this pro se, in forma pauperis, action on October 30, 2014, pursuant to the ADA, 42 U.S.C. §12101, et seq., alleging that Defendants (his former employer and his former supervisor) discriminated against him, "defame[d]" him, "mock[ed]"him, "belittle[d]" him, "disparage[d]" him, and "discredit[ed]" him verbally, via text message, via email, and in his evaluation, after he disclosed an illness and the need to take time off work for medical treatment. Docket No. 1. Plaintiff contends that this behavior continued until his termination. Id. Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants retaliated against him and "belittle[d]" him after he sought assistance from his co-workers, the "employee help line, " and the human resources department. Id. Finally, Plaintiff avers that he was terminated while out on Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") leave and that he was not paid his full final wages. Id. Plaintiff seeks payment of his full final wages, as well as lost wages, benefits, insurance, "401K, transportation, [and] bonus." Id. Plaintiff also states: "Inforce [ sic ] Dunkin Brands to take ADA complaints. Make so 2 people are not the only people to review serious charges." Id.

For the reasons discussed below, the undersigned recommends that the instant Motion (Docket No. 13) be GRANTED.

II. Undisputed Facts[2]

A. Plaintiff's Verified Complaint

Plaintiff's Verified Complaint states as follows:

Tim (Supervisor) systematically began a campaign once he was aware of my illness. Once he recognized that I would need time off and that would result in our region to not complete assigned objectives he began [to] defame, mock, belittle, disparage, and discredit me. This was done verbally, text, email, evaluation, and at termination. I spoke w/Tim. I seeked guidence [ sic ] from my co-workers first. Then employee help line. Next I seeked perfessional [ sic ] counciling [ sic ]. Lastly I contacted H.R. (Gary Dufalt). I was told they would resolve it. Resolution was for Gary & Tim to create an action plan [that] was false needs of improvement. During this time I was scheduled for surgery and was terminated during this time.

Additionally final wages were not paid in full. Docket No. 1.

B. Declaration of Timothy L. Henson

Timothy L. Henson is employed as an Operations Director for Dunkin' Brands, Inc. ("Dunkin"), and, since 2011, has worked for Dunkin in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Docket No. 16, Declaration of Timothy L. Henson ("Henson Dec."), ¶ 2. Prior to 2011, Mr. Henson worked for Dunkin as an Operations Manager, and, prior to that, worked in a role related to operating systems. Id. Mr. Henson has never worked for Dunkin in Tennessee or any state other than Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Id.

Mr. Henson lives in Westerly, Rhode Island, and has lived in Rhode Island his entire life. Id., ¶ 3. He has never lived in or worked in Tennessee. Id., ¶ 4. He does not own property in Tennessee, has no bank accounts in Tennessee, has never sued anyone in Tennessee, and, apart from the instant action, has never been sued in Tennessee. Id. He has not entered into any contracts with Tennessee residents or businesses. Id. Mr. Henson does not believe he has ever been to Tennessee. Id.

Dunkin is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Canton, Massachusetts. Id., ¶ 6. All records related to Plaintiff's employment with Dunkin were administered and maintained in Massachusetts. Id., ¶ 8.

Dunkin employed Plaintiff as an Operations Manager in Massachusetts and Rhode Island from January 2011 to November 1, 2013, when his employment was terminated. Id., ¶ 6. Mr. Henson was Plaintiff's direct supervisor. Id. Plaintiff worked for Dunkin in Massachusetts and Rhode Island; he never worked for Dunkin in Tennessee or any other state, except for a one week business trip to New Jersey. Id., ¶ 7.

As noted, Plaintiff was terminated from his employment with Dunkin effective November 1, 2013. Id., ¶ 9. On or about February 26, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC's Boston, Massachusetts office related to his employment with Dunkin. Id., ¶ 10; Ex. A. On July 23, 2014, the EEOC issued a Notice of Right to Sue letter to Plaintiff. Id., ¶ 11; Ex. B. Plaintiff filed the instant action on October 30, 2014. Docket No. 1.

III. Analysis

A. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2), (3), and (6)

Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2), (3), and (6) state:

(b) How to Present Defenses. Every defense to a claim for relief in any pleading must be asserted in the responsive pleading if one is required. But a party may ...

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