Darden v. AT&T Corp., et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant AT&T Corp.s Motion to Dismiss Improper Defendant [ECF No. 10] is DENIED. Signed by District Judge Ronnie L. White on 9/15/14. (JWJ)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
AT&T CORP., et al.,
No. 4:14CV1198 RLW
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court Defendant AT&T Corp.’s Motion to Dismiss Improper
Defendant (ECF No. 10). The matter is fully briefed and ready for disposition. For the reasons
set forth below, the Court will deny Defendant’s motion.
Plaintiff originally filed this Petition for Damages in the Circuit Court of St. Louis
County. Defendant removed the case to federal court on July 3, 2014. In the Petition, Plaintiff
alleges that Defendants AT&T Corp., Southwestern Bell Telephone Company, and Sharon
Hyche retaliated against Plaintiff in violation of the Missouri Human Rights Act (“MHRA”) and
the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). (Pet., ECF No. 4) On July 8, 2014, Defendant
AT&T Corp. filed a Motion to Dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) asserting that Plaintiff was
employed by Southwestern Bell Telephone Company and not AT&T Corp. such that AT&T
Corp. is not a proper Defendant. (Def.’s Mem. in Support of Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 11)
AT&T attached a Statement of Earnings and Work History Report in support of this proposition.
(Def.’s Mem. in Support Ex. A, ECF No. 11-1) In response, Plaintiff contends that AT&T was
Plaintiff’s employer or joint employer, as indicated by several employment-related exhibits
bearing the AT&T, and not Southwestern Bell, logo. (Pl.’s Opp’n to Def.’s Mot. to Dismiss and
Exs. A-C, ECF No. 13) Plaintiff additionally asserts that she can produce other documents
through discovery demonstrating that AT&T Corp. employed, or jointly employed, the Plaintiff.
(Id.) AT&T responds that Plaintiff’s exhibits merely contain a general logo, which could stand
for several companies, including AT&T Inc, the parent corporation, or other direct subsidiaries
of AT&T Inc. (Def.’s Reply, ECF No. 15)
Standard for Ruling on a Motion to Dismiss
A complaint must be dismissed under Federal Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted if the complaint fails to plead “enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 570 (2007)
(abrogating the “no set of facts” standard set forth in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46
(1957)). Courts must liberally construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff
and accept the factual allegations as true. Id. at 555; see also Schaaf v. Residential Funding
Corp., 517 F.3d 544, 549 (8th Cir. 2008) (stating that in a motion to dismiss, courts accept as
true all factual allegations in the complaint); Eckert v. Titan Tire Corp., 514 F.3d 801, 806 (8th
Cir. 2008) (explaining that courts should liberally construe the complaint in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff). While the Twombly Court cautioned that the holding does not require
a heightened fact pleading of specifics, “a plaintiff’s obligation to provide the ‘grounds’ of his
‘entitle[ment] to relief’ requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of
the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Id. at 555. In other words, “[f]actual allegations
must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . .” Id. This standard
simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence
of the claim. Id. at 556.
Upon review of Defendant AT&T Corp.’s Motion to Dismiss and related memoranda, the
undersigned finds that dismissal is not appropriate at this time. At the motion to dismiss stage,
the only issue before the Court is whether the pleadings state a cause of action that is plausible
on its face. The Court may not look outside the pleadings when entertaining a motion to dismiss.
Here, Plaintiff contends that she worked for and was employed by AT&T Corp, thus subjecting
AT&T Corp. to liability under the MHRA and the FMLA. (Pet. ¶¶ 1, 31-50, ECF No. 4) The
undersigned finds that Plaintiff has pled enough facts regarding her employment relationship to
state a claim that is plausible on its face, and she raises a reasonable expectation that discovery
will reveal evidence of the claim. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, 570.
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(d):
If, on a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) . . . matters outside the
pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the
motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule
56. All parties must be given a reasonable opportunity to present
all the material that is pertinent to the motion.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d); see also McAuley v. Fed. Ins. Co., 500 F.3d 784, 787 (8th Cir. 2007).
Matters outside the pleadings include “‘any written or oral evidence in support of or in
opposition to the pleading that provides some substantiation for and does not merely reiterate
what is said in the pleadings.’” Gibb v. Scott, 958 F.2d 814, 816 (8th Cir. 1992) (quoting 5C
Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1366).
In this case, Defendants argue facts and present exhibits that are not contained in the
petition, including Plaintiff’s Statement of Earnings and Work History Report.
undersigned could convert the motion to dismiss to a motion to summary judgment, such
conversion would be premature at this time, as the Court has not yet held a Rule 16 conference
or issued a Case Management Order.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant AT&T Corp.’s Motion to Dismiss Improper
Defendant [ECF No. 10] is DENIED.
RONNIE L. WHITE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated this 15th day of September, 2014.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?