Meyer v. Drury Hotels Company, LLC et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant Drury Southwest, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss Count II of Plaintiffs First Amended Complaint (ECF No. 25 ) is GRANTED and Count II of the First Amended Complaint is DISMISSED pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Pl 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendant Drury Hotels Company, LLC's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint (ECF No. 8 ) is DENIED as MOOT. Signed by District Judge Ronnie L. White on October 13, 2017. (BRP)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
DRURY SOUTHWEST, INC.,
No. 4: 17CV808 RL W
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on Defendant Drury Southwest, Inc.' s Motion to Dismiss
Count II of Plaintiffs First Amended Complaint (ECF No. 25). The motion is briefed and ready
This case stems from Plaintiffs termination from employment with Defendant Drury of
Southwest, Inc. ("Drury"). Plaintiff was employed by Drury as a Renovations Specialist. (First
Am. Compl. ["FAC"]
if 8, ECF No. 23)
Plaintiff has cerebral palsy, which causes her to walk on
her tip toes. (F AC ifif 12-13) Plaintiffs job required her to travel to different hotels throughout
the United States. (FAC
According to her First Amended Complaint, an unknown
supervisor in Paducah, Kentucky asked Plaintiff if she was walking on her tip toes, and Plaintiff
replied, "yes." (F AC if 15) The supervisor then contacted Plaintiffs direct supervisor, Ken
Julius, about Plaintiffs condition. (FAC if 16) Plaintiff alleges that the following day, Mr.
Julius told Plaintiff she was going to be laid off because "she was a worker's comp case waiting
to happen." (FAC if 17) Plaintiff was terminated on September 1, 2014. (FAC if 18)
In her First Amended Complaint, filed on April 27, 2017, Plaintiff alleges claims of
Violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12102, et seq. (Count I)
and Violation of Mo. Rev. Stat. § 287.780 (Count II). Specifically in Count II, Plaintiff contends
that she was terminated in retaliation for exercising her workers' compensation rights. In
response, Defendant has filed a Motion to Dismiss Count II, arguing that Plaintiff has failed to
state a claim under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 287.780 because she has not alleged facts indicating that she
suffered a work-related injury or attempted to exercise her rights under the Missouri Workers'
II. Legal Standard
With regard to motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)( 6), a complaint must be dismissed if it 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. 544, 570
(2007) (abrogating the "no set of facts" standard set forth in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 4546 (1957)). While the Supreme Court cautioned that the holding does not require a heightened
fact pleading of specifics, "a plaintiffs 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.
Courts must liberally construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff
and accept the factual allegations as true. Id.; 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). Further a court should not dismiss the complaint simply because the court is doubtful
that the plaintiff will be able to prove all of the necessary factual allegations. Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 556. However, "[w]here the allegations show on the face of the complaint there is some
insuperable bar to relief, dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate." Benton v._Merrill Lynch
& Co., 524 F.3d 866, 870 (8th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted).
In its Motion to Dismiss, Drury contends that Count II of Plaintiffs First Amended
Complaint should be dismissed under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim because
she has failed to allege facts indicating that she suffered a work-related injury or attempted to
exercise her rights under the Missouri Workers' Compensation Law as required by Mo. Rev.
Stat. § 287.780. Plaintiff, on the other hand, asserts that Missouri law does not require Plaintiff
to show that she was employed by Drury before her workplace injury occurred and that
terminating an employee based on an expectation that she will file a workers' compensation
claim should be prohibited under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 287.780.
Under Section 287.780 of the Missouri Revised Statutes, "[n]o employer or agent shall
discharge or discriminate against any employee for exercising any of his or her rights under [the
Workers' Compensation Law] when exercising such rights is the motivating factor in the
discharge or discrimination." Mo. Rev. Stat. § 287.780. Further, the statute defines "motivating
factor" to mean "that the employee's exercise of his or her rights under this chapter actually
played a role in the discharge or discrimination and had a determinative influence on the
discharge or discrimination." Id. Under the statute, an employee may bring a civil action for
damages against her employer if she has been discharged for exercising her rights under the
Workers' Compensation Law. Welker v. Panera Bread Co., No. 4:10CV2192 FRB, 2011 WL
1327427, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Apr. 6, 2011).
"To prevail in an action for retaliatory discharge under Mo. Rev. Stat.§ 287.780, the
aggrieved employee must prove: 1) [her] status as an employee of the defendant prior to the
injury; 2) [her] exercise of a right granted by the Workers' Compensation Law; 3) the
employer's discharge of plaintiff; and 4) an exclusive causal relationship between plaintiffs
action and defendant's action." Id. (citing Stephenson v. Raskas Dairy, Inc., 26 S.W.3d 209, 212
(Mo. Ct. App. 2000)). Where a plaintiff is unable to establish an element of a claim for
retaliatory discharge, the claim must be dismissed for failure to make a submissible case under
Mo. Rev. Stat. § 287.780. Id.
Here, Defendant Drury asserts that plaintiff has failed to allege that she suffered a workrelated injury or that she exercised any right under the Missouri Workers' Compensation Law,
and thus has failed to satisfy the first and second requirements for retaliatory discharge. The
Court agrees with Defendant. Nowhere in her First Amended Complaint does Plaintiff state that
she suffered any workplace injury. Indeed, Plaintiff alleges that she has cerebral palsy, a
qualifying disability under the ADA, and that Defendant expressed concerned over this
disability, not an injury. (F AC iii! 12, 30)
In addition, Plaintiffs First Amended Complaint fails to allege that she exercised her
rights under the Missouri Workers' Compensation Law. Instead, Plaintiff states that she had the
right to pursue a workers' compensation claim and that Defendant Drury terminated her
employment because Drury feared that Plaintiff would exercise those rights. (F AC iii! 28-30)
However, "[t]he plain language of section 287.780 provides ... that 'no employer' can discharge
any employee for exercising any of his or her rights under the workers' compensation law."
Hayes v. Show Me Believers, Inc., 192 S.W.3d 706, 707 (Mo. 2006). Plaintiff makes no claim
that she took any affirmative action to exercise her rights under the Workers' Compensation
Law. Because Plaintiff has failed to allege that she exercised a right granted by the Missouri
Workers' Compensation Law, Count II fails to state a claim under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 287.780 and
will therefore be dismissed. Welker, 2011 WL 1327427, at *2.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant Drury Southwest, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss
Count II of Plaintiffs First Amended Complaint (ECF No. 25) is GRANTED and Count II of
the First Amended Complaint is DISMISSED pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Pl 12(b)(6) for failure to
state a claim.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendant Drury Hotels Company, LLC's Motion to
Dismiss Plaintiffs Complaint (ECF No. 8) is DENIED as MOOT.
Dated this 13th day of October, 2017.
RONNIE L. WHITE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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