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Darla Towner v. Vca Animal Hospitals

May 7, 2013

DARLA TOWNER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
VCA ANIMAL HOSPITALS, INC., D/B/A/ WELBORN ANIMAL HOSPITAL, AND JAMES R., "JIM OR J.R." SWANSON, D.V.M., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kathryn H. Vratil United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Darla Towner brings employment claims against VCA Animal Hospitals, Inc. ("VCA") and James R. Swanson, D.V.M. Specifically, plaintiff claims that VCA committed sexual harassment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (Count I). Plaintiff also alleges a state law claim of outrage against Swanson (Count II). This matter is before the Court on Swanson's Motion To Dismiss (Doc. #5) filed December 3, 2012. Swanson seeks dismissal of plaintiff's outrage claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1), Fed. R. Civ. P., and failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), Fed. R. Civ. P. For reasons set forth below, the Court finds that the motion should be sustained in part.

This matter is also before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion For Leave To File Second Amended Complaint, With Suggestions (Doc. #23) filed May 3, 2013, which the Court overrules because the proposed amendment would be futile.

I. Legal Standards

A. Rule 12(b)(1)

The Court may only exercise jurisdiction when specifically authorized to do so, see Castaneda v. INS, 23 F.3d 1576, 1580 (10th Cir. 1994), and must "dismiss the cause at any stage of the proceeding in which it becomes apparent that jurisdiction is lacking." Scheideman v. Shawnee County Bd. of Cnty. Comm'rs, 895 F. Supp. 279, 280 (D. Kan. 1995) (citing Basso v. Utah Power & Light Co., 495 F.2d 906, 909 (10th Cir. 1974)); Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3). Plaintiff bears the burden of showing that jurisdiction is proper. See Jensen v. Johnson Cnty. Youth Baseball League, 838 F. Supp. 1437, 1439-40 (D. Kan. 1993).

Rule 12(b)(1) motions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction generally take two forms: facial attacks on the complaint or factual attacks on the accuracy of the allegations in the complaint. See Holt v. United States, 46 F.3d 1000, 1002-03 (10th Cir. 1995). In challenging the court's jurisdiction, a facial attack looks only to the factual allegations of the complaint, while a factual attack goes beyond the factual allegations of the complaint and presents evidence in the form of affidavits or otherwise. Muscogee (Creek) Nation v. Okla. Tax Comm'n, 611 F.3d 1222, 1227 (10th Cir. 2010). Here, defendant makes a facial attack.

B. Rule 12(b)(6)

In ruling on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) the Court assumes as true all well-pleaded factual allegations and determines whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement of relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter to state a claim which is plausible -- and not merely conceivable -- on its face. Id. at 679-80; Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). In determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief, the Court draws on its judicial experience and common sense. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.

The Court need not accept as true those allegations which state only legal conclusions. See id.; Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.3d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). Plaintiff bears the burden of framing her complaint with enough factual matter to suggest that she is entitled to relief; it is not enough to make threadbare recitals of a cause of action accompanied by conclusory statements. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556. Plaintiff makes a facially plausible claim when she pleads factual content from which the Court can reasonably infer that defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Plaintiff must show more than a sheer possibility that defendant acted unlawfully -- it is not enough to plead facts that are "merely consistent with" defendants's liability. Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). A pleading which offers labels and conclusions, a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, or naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement will not stand. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Similarly, where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the Court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged -- but has not "shown" -- that the pleader is entitled to relief.. The degree of specificity necessary to establish plausibility and fair notice depends on context, because what constitutes fair notice under Rule 8(a)(2), Fed. R. Civ. P., depends on the type of case. Robbins v. Okla., 519 F.3d 1242, 1248 (10th Cir. 2008).

C. Rule 15(a)

Rule 15(a), Fed. R. Civ. P., provides that a court shall allow a party to amend pleadings "when justice so requires." A court may deny leave to amend, however, when the proposed amendment would be futile. Bauchman v. W. High Sch., 132 F.3d 542, 559 (10th Cir. 1997) (internal citations omitted). An amendment is futile when it would be subject to a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Jefferson Cnty. Sch. Dist. No. R-1 v. Moody's Investor's Servs., Inc., 175 F.3d 848, 859 (10th Cir. 1999).

II. Factual Background

The amended complaint alleges the ...


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