United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
Chad T. Maynard
Meggitt-USA, Inc. Opinion No. 2015 DNH 076
LANDYA McCAFFERTY, District Judge.
Plaintiff Chad T. Maynard ("Maynard") filed a three-count complaint against his former employer, Meggitt-USA, Inc. ("Meggitt"), for violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED"), and defamation. Meggitt moves to dismiss the IIED claim for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). For the reasons that follow, the court grants Meggitt's motion.
Standard of Review
Under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must accept the factual allegations in the complaint as true, construe reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor, and "determine whether the factual allegations in the plaintiff's complaint set forth a plausible claim upon which relief may be granted." Foley v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 772 F.3d 63, 71 (1st Cir. 2014) (citation omitted). A claim is facially plausible "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Analyzing plausibility is "a context-specific task" in which the court relies on its "judicial experience and common sense." Id. at 679. However, dismissal is proper if "the facts, evaluated in [a] plaintiff-friendly manner, [do not] contain enough meat to support a reasonable expectation that an actionable claim may exist." Andrew Robinson Int'l, Inc. v. Hartford Fire Ins. Co., 547 F.3d 48, 51 (1st Cir. 2008).
The following facts are drawn from the complaint. Maynard began working for Meggitt in July 2004, when he was hired to work in the information technology department of Vibro-Meter, Inc., a Meggitt subsidiary company. After Maynard was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, arthritis, and Lyme disease, Maynard requested and obtained medical leave for back surgery. In 2011, prior to Maynard's medical leave, Meggitt announced its plans to consolidate its workforce and transfer manufacturing operations from its Londonderry, New Hampshire facility to a facility in California.
Maynard had back surgery in April 2013, but due to complications, required an extension of his medical leave. Maynard alleges that Meggitt was frustrated at this extension and his prolonged absence.
Maynard returned from his medical leave in late May 2013. During the summer of 2013, Meggitt notified certain employees that their positions would be eliminated as part of the consolidation process. Maynard alleges that he was not given notice at that time, but that on June 12, 2013, he "was suddenly... informed that his position was being eliminated." Compl. (doc. no. 1) ¶¶ 16, 21.
Shortly thereafter, Meggitt suspected its welding equipment had been stolen. Meggitt suspected that Maynard was responsible, and Meggitt placed him on administrative leave. In spite of the fact that the missing equipment was later found, Meggitt "kept Maynard on administrative leave and refused to communicate with him about coming back to work." Id . ¶¶ 22-23. Furthermore, Maynard alleges that Meggitt spread false allegations to other employees that Maynard was responsible for the missing equipment. Maynard was not allowed to return to work, and Meggitt terminated him on October 31, 2013. Based on the foregoing, Maynard alleges that Meggitt is liable for IIED.
To state a claim for IIED, a plaintiff must "allege that a defendant by extreme and outrageous conduct, intentionally or recklessly caused severe emotional distress to another." Tessier v. Rockefeller, 162 N.H. 324, 341 (2011) (quoting Morancy v. Morancy, 134 N.H. 493, 496 (1991) (internal quotation marks and alterations omitted)). Meggitt moves to dismiss the IIED claim arguing both that the complaint fails to identify the requisite emotional injury and Meggitt's alleged actions, taken as true, are insufficiently extreme and outrageous to give rise to a viable claim for IIED.
A. Emotional Distress
Maynard must allege severe emotional distress to state a plausible claim for IIED. See Tessier, 162 N.H. at 341. Severe emotional distress
includes all highly unpleasant mental reactions, such as fright, horror, grief, shame, humiliation, embarrassment, anger, chagrin, disappointment, worry, and nausea. It is only where it is extreme that the liability arises.... The law intervenes only where the distress ...