Ibn'rad v. Pam Transportation, et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER : IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the motion of defendant HireRight Solutions, Inc. for judgment on the pleadings [Doc. # 31 ] is granted. A judgment consistent with this Memorandum and Order will be entered separately.. Signed by District Judge Carol E. Jackson on 3/4/13. (KKS)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
PAM TRANSPORTATION, et al.,
No. 4:12-CV-2257 (CEJ)
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on the motion of defendant HireRight Solutions,
Inc. for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c). Plaintiff has not
filed a response to the motion and the time for doing so has expired.
Plaintiff filed a complaint against defendants P.A.M. Transport, Inc. and
HireRight, asserting a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C.
§ 12132, and a claim of libel. Plaintiff alleges that P.A.M. falsely accused him of lying
on his employment application about his mental illness history. According to the
complaint, plaintiff was detained in a mental facility but there was no determination
that he suffered from a mental defect. Plaintiff alleges that P.A.M. reported to
HireRight that plaintiff falsified his application and, as a result, plaintiff has been unable
to find a job as a truck driver.
On December 31, 2012, plaintiff filed a motion to amend his complaint to drop
the ADA claim. On January 28, 2013, the Court granted plaintiff’s motion to amend.
In addition, the Court granted P.A.M.’s motion to dismiss because the amended
complaint was insufficient to state a claim of libel. The sole remaining claim in this
action is plaintiff’s libel claim against HireRight.
Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that, “[a]fter the
pleadings are closed but within such time as not to delay the trial, a party may move
for judgment on the pleadings.” A Rule 12(c) motion should be granted if the movant
establishes that no material facts remain to be resolved and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. National Car Rental Sys., Inc. v. Computer Assocs. Int’l,
Inc., 991 F.2d 426, 428 (8th Cir.), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 661 (1993). The Court must
accept as true all facts pleaded by the nonmoving party and grant all reasonable
inferences from the pleadings in the nonmoving party’s favor. Id. The same standard
used to address a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss is used to analyze a motion for
judgment on the pleadings. Ashley County, Ark. v. Pfizer, Inc., 552 F.3d 659, 665 (8th
Cir. 2009). To survive a 12(b)(6) motion, a viable complaint must include “enough
facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
HireRight argues that plaintiff’s libel claim fails as a matter of law for the
following reasons: (1) the language that is claimed to be libelous is not set forth in the
complaint; (2) plaintiff has failed to plead that HireRight published the allegedly
defamatory statement to a third party; and (3) plaintiff has failed to set forth facts
showing that any allegedly libelous statements by HireRight were false.
Jurisdiction of this case is based on diversity of citizenship. Therefore, the Court
looks to the substantive law of Missouri in determining whether the complaint
sufficiently states a claim for libel. Erie v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 78 (1938).
Under Missouri law, “[i]n order to state a claim for libel . . . the specific words
claimed to be defamatory must be alleged in the petition or complaint.” Angelina
Casualty Co. v. Pattonville-Brigeton Terrance Fire Protection Dist., 706 S.W.2d 483,
485 (Mo. Ct. App. 1986); Nazeri v. Missouri Valley College, 860 S.W.2d 303, 313 (Mo.
1993). Furthermore, there must be an allegation of publication. Angelina Casualty Co.,
706 S.W.2d at 485; Maxwell v. Express Scripts, Inc., No. 4:11-CV-1315 (E.D. Mo.
March 22, 2012) (Plaintiff “did not plead the written/publication requirement, and so
I will grant [defendant’s] motion to dismiss that claim.”).
Plaintiff did not include in his amended complaint the specific words or
statements made by HireRight which he claims are libelous. Furthermore, plaintiff
alleges only that HireRight accepted the information from P.A.M. as true, not that
HireRight passed on the information to third parties. See Rice v. Hodapp, 919 S.W.2d
240, 243 (Mo. 1996) (The requirement of publication simply means that the
information must have been communicated to a third party). For these reasons,
plaintiff’s complaint fails to state a claim for libel, and defendant HireRight is entitled
to judgment on the pleadings.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the motion of defendant HireRight Solutions,
Inc. for judgment on the pleadings [Doc. #31] is granted.
A judgment consistent with this Memorandum and Order will be entered
CAROL E. JACKSON
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated this 4th day of March, 2013.
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