Kidd v. Itron Inc.
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER: the Defendants' motion to dismiss (R. 8 ) is DENIED. An Order for Meeting and Report will be entered promptly. Signed by Judge Gregory F. VanTatenhove on 9/19/2017.(AKR)cc: COR
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
Civil No. 3:16-cv-00063-GFVT
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This matter is before the Court on Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s complaint
alleging gender discrimination and intentional infliction of emotional distress. [R. 8.]
Construing all facts in Plaintiff’s favor, this Court finds that she has alleged sufficient facts to
state a claim upon which relief might be granted. Consequently, Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff Angela Kidd alleges she was unlawfully terminated by Itron, Inc. on or about
April 30, 2015. [R. 1-2 at 4.] Itron is a corporation with its “nerve center” in Liberty Lake,
Washington, and is a citizen of that state. [R. 1 at 2.] On August 22, 2016, Defendants removed
this action to Federal Court based on diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
Defendants then filed a Motion to Dismiss, which is ripe for this Court’s review. [R. 8.]
In her complaint, Kidd states that she worked at Itron, Inc. for fourteen (14) years and
was never the subject of disciplinary action. She made “several complaints to management
about a male employee behaving inappropriately” and was terminated. [R. 1-2 at 6.] She reports
that the male employee was not disciplined. [R. 1-2 at 6.] Kidd stated that she was terminated to
protect her from being sexually harassed. [R. 1-2 at 5.] She also alleges that, “Defendant
blatantly terminated Plaintiff because of reprisals over sexual harassment complaints” and
“[b]ecause of myth, fear or stereotype, Defendant regarded Plaintiff as unable to do the job she
was working at.” [R. 1-2 at 6.] Finally, Kidd alleges that, “Defendant's actions against Plaintiff
were intentional or reckless, extreme and outrageous, and caused Plaintiff severe emotional
distress.” [R. 1-2 at 6.]
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a defendant to seek dismissal of a
complaint which fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).
In making such a motion, “[t]he defendant has the burden of showing that the plaintiff has failed
to state a claim for relief.” DirecTV, Inc. v. Treesh, 487 F.3d 471, 476 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing
Carver v. Bunch, 946 F.2d 451, 454-55 (6th Cir. 1991)). Federal Rule 8 requires only “a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P.
8(a)(2). However, to survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint “must contain either direct or
inferential allegations” establishing each material element required for recovery under some
actionable legal theory. Bishop v. Lucent Technologies, Inc., 520 F.3d 516, 519 (6th Cir. 2008)
(internal citation and quotation marks omitted). “[A] formulaic recitation of a cause of action's
elements will not do.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 545 (2007).
When reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court “construe[s] the complaint in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff, accept[s] its allegations as true, and draw[s] all reasonable
inferences in favor of the plaintiff.” DirecTV, Inc., 487 F.3d at 476 (citation omitted). The
Court, however, “need not accept as true legal conclusions or unwarranted factual inferences.”
Id. (citation omitted). Moreover, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted
as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). In other words, the facts that are pled must rise to
the level of plausibility, not just possibility – “facts that are merely consistent with a defendant’s
liability . . . stop[ ] short of the line between possibility and plausibility.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). According to the Sixth Circuit, “[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.” DirecTV, Inc., 487 F.3d at 476
(citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Thus, the plaintiff must at least “provide the grounds of his
entitlement to relief, [which] requires more than labels and conclusions. . . .” Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 555 (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).
Plaintiff first alleges gender discrimination pursuant to KRS § 344.040. Kentucky Courts
have followed the Supreme Court in analyzing gender discrimination claims. The Plaintiff must
prove; “(1) she was a member of a protected group; (2) she was subjected to an adverse
employment action; (3) she was qualified for the position; and (4) similarly situated males were
treated more favorably.” The Bd. of Regents of N. Kentucky Univ. v. Weickgenannt, 485 S.W.3d
299, 306 (Ky. 2016). The Sixth Circuit has clarified that, at the Motion to Dismiss stage,
establishing a prima facie case under these elements is not required, but, the complaint must
allege sufficient facts from which a court could draw a reasonable inference that “[Defendant]
discriminated against [Plaintiff] with respect to [her] compensation, terms, conditions, or
privileges of employment, because of [her]” gender. Keys v. Humana, Inc., 684 F.3d 605, 610
(6th Cir. 2012).
Construing all the facts in the favor of the Plaintiff and drawing all inferences in her
favor, Plaintiff has alleged sufficient facts to survive the motion to dismiss. Plaintiff has stated
that she is a woman and that she was terminated after fourteen years of service with the
company. [R. 1-2 at 6.] Even though no establishment of a prima facie case is necessary, we
can draw inferences in her favor from these statements, that she was a member of a protected
group, she was terminated and, thus, subjected to an adverse employment action, and that she
was qualified for the position because she had been employed for fourteen years. She stated that
the male employee that she alleges sexually harassed her was not reprimanded and did not lose
his job. [R. 1-2 at 6.] Accordingly, her gender discrimination claim survives the motion to
Plaintiff’s second claim alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress. Under
Kentucky law, to prove IIED, “[t]he wrongdoer's conduct must be intentional or reckless; the
conduct must be outrageous and intolerable in that it offends against the generally accepted
standards of decency and morality; there must be a causal connection between the wrongdoer's
conduct and the emotional distress and the distress suffered must be severe.” Miracle v. Bell
Cty. Emergency Med. Servs., 237 S.W.3d 555, 559 (Ky. Ct. App. 2007). Further, “[t]he mere
termination of employment and the resulting embarrassment do not rise to the level of
outrageous conduct and resulting severe emotional distress necessary to support a claim for
Plaintiff’s claim for IIED only states that she “suffered extreme emotional distress when
Defendant intentionally and maliciously engaged in extreme and outrageous conduct.” [R. 1-2 at
6.] Though this is only a bare assertion of the elements of IIED, given the factual allegations
discussed, this Court can infer from Plaintiff’s complaint that she has suffered extreme emotional
distress as a result of being terminated from her job of fourteen years after making a report of
sexual harassment. Construing all facts in her favor, this Court finds that Plaintiff’s complaint of
IIED survives dismissal.
Accordingly, having considered the record, applicable law and the arguments of the
parties, the Court hereby ORDERS the Defendants’ motion to dismiss [R. 8] is DENIED. An
Order for Meeting and Report will be entered promptly.
This the 19th day of September, 2017.
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