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Shamblin v. Raleigh General Hospital, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Beckley

December 16, 2019




         Pending is the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss [Doc. 4] (“motion to dismiss”) filed September 19, 2019. For the reasons stated within, the motion is granted as moulded.


         On August 16, 2019, Plaintiff Matthew Shamblin instituted this action in the Circuit Court of Raleigh County [Doc. 1, Ex. A]. The Complaint alleges that Defendant Raleigh General Hospital, LLC (“Raleigh General”) failed to provide Mr. Shamblin a “Final Notice” prior to his termination for absenteeism or tardiness [Id. at ¶ 8]. The Complaint alleges that a Final Notice is required under the Raleigh General Hospital Administration Policy (the “policy”) and that Raleigh General enforced the policy “differently according to each employee” [Id. at ¶¶ 8, 9]. Raleigh General timely removed the action on the basis of diversity jurisdiction [Doc. 1] and thereafter moved to dismiss [Doc. 3]. Raleigh General asserts that the Complaint fails to state a claim under the West Virginia Human Rights Act, West Virginia Code § 5-11-2 (the “WVHRA”). Specifically, Raleigh General seeks dismissal inasmuch as the Complaint does not allege that Mr. Shamblin is a member of a protected class or that membership in a protected class played a role in his termination [Doc. 4 at 3]. Raleigh General further contends that the Complaint fails to state a claim for breach of contract.


         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires that a pleader provide “a short and plain statement of the claim showing . . . entitle[ment] to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2); Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007). Rule 12(b)(6) correspondingly permits a defendant to challenge a complaint when it “fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).

         The required “short and plain statement” must provide “‘fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957), overruled on other grounds, Twombly, 550 U.S. at 562-63); McCleary-Evans v. Maryland Dep't of Transp., State Highway Admin., 780 F.3d 582, 585 (4th Cir. 2015). Additionally, the showing of an “entitlement to relief” amounts to “more than labels and conclusions . . . .” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 558. It is now settled that “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Id. at 555; McCleary-Evans, 780 F.3d at 585; Giarratano v. Johnson, 521 F.3d 298, 304 (4th Cir. 2008).

         The complaint need not “plead facts sufficient to establish a prima facie case . . . to survive a motion to dismiss, but . . . the more stringent pleading standard established in Iqbal and Twombly applies.” Woods v. City of Greensboro, 855 F.3d 639, 648 (4th Cir. 2017) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 569-70). Stated another way, the operative pleading need only contain “[f]actual allegations . . . [sufficient] to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (noting the opening pleading “does not require ‘detailed factual allegations,' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.”). In sum, the complaint must allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

         The decision in Iqbal provides some additional markers concerning the plausibility requirement:

A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. The plausibility standard is not akin to a “probability requirement, ” but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Where a complaint pleads facts that are “merely consistent with” a defendant's liability, it “stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of ‘entitlement to relief. . . .'”
Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will, as the Court of Appeals observed, be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense. But where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged -- but it has not “show[n]” -- “that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
In keeping with these principles a court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.

Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79 (citations omitted).

         As noted in Iqbal, the Supreme Court has consistently interpreted the Rule 12(b)(6) standard to require a court to “‘accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint . . . .'” Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555); see also SouthCarolina Dept. of Health and Environmental Control v. Commerce and Industry Ins. Co., 372 F.3d 245, 255 (4th Cir. 2004) (quoting Franks v. Ross, 313 F.3d 184, 192 (4th Cir. 2002)). The Court is additionally required to “draw[] all reasonable . . . inferences from those facts in the plaintiff's favor . . . .” Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 244 (4th Cir. 1999).[1] Lest one lose the forest for the trees, it bears emphasizing that, “[A] well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it ...

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