Kossmeyer v. Lillibridge Healthcare Services et al
OPINION MEMORANDUM AND ORDERIT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant Lillibridges Motion to Dismiss [Doc. No. 16] is GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiffs MHRA claims against Defendant Lillibridge are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. IT IS FURTHER ORDER ED that the SAMC Defendants Motion to Dismiss [Doc. No. 13] is GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiffs MHRA claims against the SAMC Defendants are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiffs Title VII, ADEA, and Missouri pu blic policy claims against the SAMC Defendants are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff is given 14 days from the date of this Opinion, Memorandum and Order to file an amended complaint. 13 16 ( Response to Court due by 5/14/2015.) Signed by District Judge Henry Edward Autrey on 4/30/15. (CLA)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
MARIA P. KOSSMEYER,
SERVICES, INC., et al.,
No. 4:14CV1748 HEA
OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on the SAMC Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss. [Doc. No.
13] and Defendant Lillibridge’s Motion to Dismiss [Doc. No. 16]. Plaintiff has filed a
consolidated Response in Opposition to the Motions. [Doc. No. 18]. The SAMC Defendants
have filed a Reply [Doc. No. 19]. For the reasons set forth below, the Motions to Dismiss will be
Facts and Background1
Plaintiff Maria P. Kossmeyer (“Plaintiff”) is a former employee of Defendant Lillibridge
Healthcare Services, Inc. (“Lillibridge”). Plaintiff, a sixty-four year old female, was hired by
Defendant Lillibridge in September 2011 as a General Manager responsible for managing
medical buildings. Four of the seven buildings Plaintiff managed were located on land owned by
Defendant St. Anthony’s Medical Center (“SAMC”) and an entity known as Ventas.2
Plaintiff’s primary contact at SAMC was Defendant Brad Taylor (“Taylor,” or,
collectively with SAMC, the “SAMC Defendants”). Throughout her employment, Plaintiff had
The recitation of facts is taken from Plaintiff’s Complaint and are taken as true for the purposes of this motion.
Such recitation in no way relieves any party from the necessary proof thereof in later proceedings.
Lillibridge is a subsidiary of Ventas, and Ventas had a ground lease with St. Anthony’s Hospital.
periodic meetings with Defendant Taylor in which she reported to him, among other things,
maintenance issues that needed to be addressed and/or repaired at the medical office buildings
Plaintiff was responsible for managing. Additionally, Taylor would give Plaintiff a schedule
dictating when maintenance or repair measures would be undertaken, as well as deadlines for
completing maintenance or repair projects.
Throughout Plaintiff’s employment, Defendant Taylor engaged in behavior such as
berating her in a belligerent and belittling fashion. In May 2012, Plaintiff refused Taylor’s
directive to start HVAC units at SAMC’s Fenton Urgent Care facility following a fire restoration
project because the fire department had tagged the units as requiring inspection before they could
be started. Despite Plaintiff’s explanation, Taylor berated her as he had before, but for the first
time in front of contractors and other representatives of SAMC, as Taylor attempted to intimidate
Plaintiff into starting the HVAC units without obtaining the legally-required approval from the
fire department. Plaintiff reported the incident to her supervisor with Lillibridge, as well as
Lillibridge’s Vice President of Property Management, and its human resources department.
Plaintiff never received a response to her complaint of discrimination and harassment.
On June 14, 2012, Plaintiff’s employment with Defendant Lillibridge was terminated by
the same individuals to whom she had lodged her complaint of discrimination and harassment.
At that time, and several occasions thereafter, Plaintiff was told by representatives of Lillibridge
that she was an excellent employee but because of a request by Taylor and SAMC to remove
Plaintiff as the General Manager of the medical office buildings, Lillibridge had no choice but to
terminate Plaintiff’s employment.
Plaintiff initiated this action by filing a Complaint on October 15, 2014. Plaintiff filed a
First Amended Complaint on December 12, 2014. In Count I, Plaintiff alleges gender and age
discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act (“ADEA”), and the Missouri Human Rights Act (“MHRA”). In Count II,
Plaintiff alleges retaliation in violation of the same statutes. In Count III, Plaintiff alleges age and
gender harassment in violation of the same statutes. Finally, in Count IV, Plaintiff alleges
wrongful termination in violation of Missouri public policy.
A complaint must set out a “short and plain statement of [a plaintiff’s] claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). To test the legal sufficiency of a
complaint, a defendant may file a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). “To survive a motion to dismiss, 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) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). In other words, a plaintiff must plead facts from which the court can draw
a “reasonable inference” of liability. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. The complaint need not contain
“detailed factual allegations” but must contain more than mere “labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements” or “naked assertion[s]” devoid of “further factual
enhancement.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557. An “unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfullyharmed-me accusation” will not suffice. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “While legal conclusions can
provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations,” id. at 679,
which “raise a right to relief above the speculative level,” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
Under Twombly and Iqbal, “[a] plaintiff . . . must plead facts sufficient to show that her
claim has substantive plausibility.” Johnson v. City of Shelby, 135 S. Ct. 346, 347 (2014). If the
plaintiff “inform[s] the [defendant] of the factual basis for [her] complaint, [she] [is] required to
do no more to stave off threshold dismissal for want of an adequate statement of [her] claim.” Id.
In evaluating a motion to dismiss, the court can “choose to begin by identifying pleadings
that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Turning to any “well-pleaded factual allegations,” the court should
“assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to
relief.” Id. The court may only consider the initial pleadings. Brooks v. Midwest Heart Grp., 655
F.3d 796, 799 (8th Cir. 2011).
The SAMC Defendants and Defendant Lillibridge all argue that Plaintiff’s claims under
the Missouri Human Rights Act in Counts I, II, and III must be dismissed because they are
barred by the two-year statute of limitations. See Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.111.1. Plaintiff concedes
this point and, accordingly, the Court will grant Defendants’ Motions as to Plaintiff’s MHRA
claims against all Defendants, and dismiss those claims with prejudice.
The SAMC Defendants further argue that Plaintiff’s Title VII, ADEA, and Missouri
public policy claims should be dismissed as to the SAMC Defendants because Plaintiff has failed
to adequately allege that SAMC was Plaintiff’s employer. For the reasons discussed below, the
Court agrees. Accordingly, the Court will grant the SAMC Defendants’ Motion as to these
claims, and dismiss all remaining claims against the SAMC Defendants without prejudice.
Despite alleging that she was hired and fired by Defendant Lillibridge, and that nearly
half of the properties she managed for Lillibridge were unrelated to SAMC, Plaintiff attempts to
label SAMC a “joint employer” with Lillibridge. Plaintiff fails to successfully prosecute this
In determining whether a “joint employer” relationship exists, the Eighth Circuit
considers four factors: (1) interrelation of operations; (2) common management; (3) centralized
control of labor relationship; and (4) common ownership or financial control. Baker v. Stuart
Broadcasting Co., 560 F.2d 389, 392 (8th Cir. 1977) (evaluating joint employer in NLRB
context); see also Massey v. Emergency Assistance, Inc., 724 F.2d 690 (8th Cir. 1980) (per
curiam) (applying Baker factors in Title VII context); Jarred v. Walters Indus. Elecs., 153 F.
Supp. 2d 1095, 1099 (W.D. Mo. 2001) (applying Baker factors in Title VII context); Scheidecker
v. Arvig Enters., 122 F. Supp. 2d 1031, 1037–38 (D. Minn. 2000) (applying Baker factors in
Title VII context). No single factor is outcome determinative. Baker, 560 F.2d at 392.
Plaintiff has not alleged facts supporting any of these factors as they relate to Defendant
SAMC. Many of Plaintiff’s factual allegations regarding SAMC’s status as a joint employer are
textbook examples of “labels and conclusions,” “formulaic recitation[s] of the elements” or
“naked assertion[s] devoid of further factual enhancement.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557.3
Other factual allegations, merely illustrate that Defendant Taylor, in his role as an SAMC
employee, was Plaintiff’s point person for her work at SAMC facilities.4 Finally, Plaintiff
alleges that “because of a request by Taylor and St. Anthony’s to remove Plaintiff as the General
Manager of the medical office buildings, Lillibridge had no choice but to terminate Plaintiff’s
employment.” [Doc. No. 4 at ¶ 27]. This does not help Plaintiff establish any of the Baker
factors. Far from establishing any actual interrelation of operations, common management,
centralized control of labor relationship, or common ownership, it merely alleges that SAMC—
as one of Defendant Lillibridge’s clients—was unsatisfied with Plaintiff’s performance at its
facilities and demanded a different General Manager. Viewing this allegation in the light most
favorable to Plaintiff, SAMC had no interest in, or control over, whether Plaintiff’s employment
See, e.g., Doc. No. 4 at ¶ 12 (“All Defendants had the ability to direct Plaintiff’s work and control the terms and
conditions of her employment.”), ¶ 13 (“Under certain circumstances, Taylor and St. Anthony’s also had the power
to limit or eliminate Plaintiff’s work opportunities, thereby impacting her pay and employment status.” (emphasis
See, e.g., id. at ¶¶ 11, 14.
was terminated. Again, as noted, nearly half of the facilities Plaintiff managed for Defendant
Lillibridge were unrelated to SAMC.
Accordingly, because Plaintiff has failed to allege facts demonstrated that SAMC was her
employer, Plaintiff’s Title VII, ADEA, and Missouri public policy claims against the SAMC
Defendants will be dismissed.
Based on the foregoing, the Court will grant Defendant Lillibridge’s Motion to Dismiss
and dismiss the MHRA claims against it with prejudice. Further, the Court will grant the SAMC
Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss, and dismiss the MHRA claims against them with prejudice, and
all other claims against them without prejudice. The Court will grant Plaintiff leave to amend her
complaint, if she can.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant Lillibridge’s Motion to Dismiss [Doc. No.
16] is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff’s MHRA claims against Defendant
Lillibridge are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the SAMC Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss [Doc.
No. 13] is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff’s MHRA claims against the SAMC
Defendants are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Title VII, ADEA, and Missouri public
policy claims against the SAMC Defendants are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff is given 14 days from the date of this
Opinion, Memorandum and Order to file an amended complaint.
Dated this 30th day of April, 2015.
HENRY EDWARD AUTREY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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