United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
W. HAROLD ALBRITTON, Senior District Judge.
I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
This cause is before the court on a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, or Portions thereof, and for Other Relief, filed by the Defendant, Legal Services Alabama, Inc. (Doc. #15).
The Plaintiff, Carolyn Gaines-Varner, filed a Complaint in this case on February 17, 2015 (Doc. #1). The Complaint did not state separate counts for relief.
The court granted a Motion for More Definite Statement filed by the Defendant and gave the Plaintiff until June 5, 2015 to file a new Amended Complaint which states her claims for violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act and Age Discrimination in Employment Act in two separate counts. (Doc. #10).
On June 8, 2015, the Plaintiff filed a Response to Order and Motion for Leave to Amend, attaching an Amended Complaint, and asking the court to allow her to add claims for breach of contract and violation of the Rehabilitation Act. The court granted the Motion for Leave to Amend, and directed that the Amended Complaint be filed. (Doc. #13).
In response to the Amended Complaint, the Defendant filed the instant Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint, or Portions Thereof, and for Other Relief. The Defendant argued that the Plaintiff's Amended Complaint did not comply with the court's earlier order, and also sought to dismiss Count Four of the Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim for breach of contract, stating that no facts have been pled to show that the Plaintiff was anything but an employee-at-will. The Defendant also asked that if only Count IV of the Amended Complaint is dismissed, the Defendant be given 14 days to file an Answer.
For reasons to be discussed, the court concludes that the Motion to Dismiss is due to be GRANTED only as to Count IV of the Amended Complaint.
II. STANDARD FOR MOTION TO DISMISS
The court accepts the plaintiff's factual allegations as true, Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984), and construes the complaint in the plaintiff's favor, Duke v. Cleland, 5 F.3d 1399, 1402 (11th Cir. 1993). In analyzing the sufficiency of pleading, the court is guided by a two-prong approach: one, the court is not bound to accept conclusory statements of the elements of a cause of action and, two, where there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to entitlement to relief. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009). "[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." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint need not contain "detailed factual allegations, " but instead the complaint must contain "only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570. The factual allegations "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. at 555.
The Defendant argues that the Plaintiff's Amended Complaint does not comply with this court's Order allowing for amendment of the Complaint to re-plead two claims. The court, however, granted an intervening Motion by the Plaintiff seeking to file an Amended Complaint which also included a breach of contract and Rehabilitation Act claim. (Doc. #13).
The Defendant argues specifically with regard to Count IV of the Amended Complaint that the Plaintiff has failed to state a claim for breach of contract because she has not alleged that she was not an at-will employee. The Defendant argues that simply accepting a promotion within an organization is not sufficient consideration to set aside the at-will doctrine, and cites Turner v. Newsome, 3 So.3d 913, 917 (Ala. Civ. App. 2008). The Defendant also states that that the Plaintiff has never contended that she provided additional consideration to her employer for permanent employment, only that she was given additional consideration.
The Plaintiff argues in her brief that the fact that she has pled a breach of contract implies a valid contract claim, and that discovery will show that she was paid additional consideration when she accepted the position of Advocacy Director. The Plaintiff states that although she did not plead it in her Amended Complaint, she expects to ...