United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
WILLIAM L. CAMPBELL, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and
Supporting Memorandum of Law. (Doc. Nos. 5, 6). Plaintiff
filed a response in opposition (Doc. No. 9), and Defendant
has replied. (Doc. No. 10). For the reasons discussed below,
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is
FACTUAL PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Lewis Horne, originally brought this action in Williamson
County, Tennessee Chancery Court, seeking recovery of
compensatory and punitive damages from the Defendant,
loandepot.com, LLC. (Doc. No. 1-1). The Defendant removed the
action to this Court under 28 U.S.C §§ 1331 and
1441(c) and 29 U.S.C. § 2601, et seq. (Doc. No.
was a Recruiting Officer for Defendant when he was involved
in a motor-vehicle accident in April 2015. (Doc. No. 1-1,
¶ 5). Plaintiff alleges he missed a substantial amount
of work and took leave under the Family Medical Leave Act
(“FMLA”) as a result of his work related
injuries. (Id. at ¶¶ 5, 8). The Complaint
states Defendant refused to initiate a complete worker's
compensation claim and threatened to terminate his employment
during the FMLA leave. (Id. at ¶¶ 6, 9).
On October 21, 2016, Defendant terminated the Plaintiff.
(Id. at ¶ 1). Plaintiff sued Defendant for
wrongful termination, violation of the FMLA, common law
retaliatory discharge, and intentional and negligent
inflection of emotional distress. (Id.).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), permits dismissal of a
complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted. For purposes of a motion to dismiss, a court must
take all of the factual allegations in the complaint as true.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009). To survive a
motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient
factual allegations, accepted as true, to state a claim for
relief that is plausible on its face. Id. A claim
has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads facts that
allow the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Id.
Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action,
supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.
Id. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations,
a court should assume their veracity and then determine
whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement of relief.
Id. at 1.
argues Plaintiff's wrongful termination should be
dismissed because Plaintiff has not alleged facts to state a
clear violation of some well-defined and established public
policy. (Doc. No. 6 at 3). Plaintiff argues he had a
statutory right to file a worker's compensation claim,
and Defendant terminated Plaintiff for exercising his rights
under Tennessee Worker's Compensation Law. (Doc. No. 9 at
“is a bedrock of Tennessee common law.”
Franklin v. Swift Transp. Co., 210 S.W.3d 521, 527
(Tenn.App. 2006). Unless a contractual provision exists,
courts presume that employment contracts are indefinite and
terminable by a party for good, bad, or no cause at all.
McClaren v. Keystone Memphis, LLC, 201 WL 56084 at
*4 (W.D. Tenn. Jan. 5, 2010). “However, the
employment-at-will doctrine is subject to a small exception
that allows a cause of action to lie against an employer who,
in terminating an employee, violates a clear public policy of
the State of Tennessee.” Id.; see also
Bone v. CSX Intermodal, Inc., 2001 WL 1906279 at *4
(W.D. Tenn. Oct. 11, 2001). For instance, an employee who
files a workers' compensation claim is protected by
public policy, and therefore an employer cannot lawfully
discharge the employee for filing a claim. Yardley v.
Hospital Housekeeping Systems, LLC, 470 S.W.3d 800, 804
(Tenn. 2015). “An employee who believes that he has
been fired for filing a workers' compensation claim may
bring a claim for retaliatory discharge.” Id.
argues Plaintiff “has not even attempted to allege that
he was terminated in violation of public policy.” (Doc.
No. 6 at 4). Defendant argues Plaintiff does not cite a
statutory requirement in the Complaint to support an action
for wrongful termination. In response, Plaintiff argues he
had a statutory right to file a worker's compensation
claim and Defendant violated public policy by terminating
Plaintiff when he was exercising his rights. (Doc. No. 9 at
4). However, the Court must rely on facts alleged in the
Complaint; not in the Plaintiff's brief. See Chapman
v. Bank of America, 2011 WL 3704148 at *1 (M.D. Tenn.
Aug. 23, 2011).
Complaint does not state which public policy the Defendant
violated, nor does it allege facts to support such a
violation. Instead, Plaintiff merely states Defendant
terminated him from his position and this caused him harm.
(Doc. No. 1-1, ¶¶ 11, 12). Accordingly, Count I for
wrongful termination does not contain sufficient facts to
state a claim for relief because Plaintiff does not state
facts sufficient to support a public policy violation.
Violation of Family Medical Leave Act
alleges Defendant violated Plaintiff's “right to
exercise the benefits and protections of the
FMLA” and “failed to make
reasonable accommodations for the Plaintiff…”
after he developed a disability. (Id. at
¶¶ 14, 15). District courts established two
separate theories of recovery under the FMLA, the
“interference” theory and the
“retaliation” theory. Gates v. U.S. Postal
Service, 502 Fed.Appx. 485, 488 (6th Cir. 2012);
Easter v. Asurion Ins. Services, Inc., 96 F.Supp.3d
789, 795 (M.D. Tenn. Mar. 6, 2015). For FMLA interference, an
employee must show:
1) he was an eligible employee, (2) the defendant was an
employer as defined under the FMLA, (3) he was entitled to
leave under the FMLA, (4) he gave the employer notice of her
intention to take leave, and (5) the employer denied ...