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Parker v. Leaf River Cellulose, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Eastern Division

December 19, 2014

JOSEPH EDWARD PARKER, PLAINTIFF
v.
LEAF RIVER CELLULOSE, LLC, DEFENDANT

For Joseph Edward Parker, Plaintiff: Michael R. Martz, LEAD ATTORNEY, FREELAND MARTZ, PLLC, Oxford, MS.

For Leaf River Cellulose, LLC, Defendant: William T. Siler, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, Gregory Todd Butler, PHELPS DUNBAR, LLP - Jackson, Jackson, MS.

Page 688

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Keith Starrett, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

This matter is before the Court on the Defendant Leaf River Cellulose, LLC's Motion to Dismiss [7]. Having considered the submissions of the parties and the applicable law, the Court finds that the motion is well taken and should be granted.

I. BACKGROUND

On January 23, 2014, Plaintiff Joseph Edward Parker filed suit against Leaf River Cellulose, LLC (" Leaf River" ), his former employer, alleging that he was wrongfully discharged in violation of Mississippi law. ( See Compl. [1].) The Complaint asserts that the Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this cause pursuant to Title 28 U.S.C. § 1332 (diversity of citizenship). Parker seeks, inter alia, attorney's fees, punitive damages, and a judgment in excess of $75,000.00 in relief. The Court is satisfied that the requirements of diversity jurisdiction are met in this case.

The following allegations of the Complaint are pertinent to the subject motion. Leaf River hired Parker in or around October of 2008 to work at its plant in New Augusta, Mississippi. On December 12, 2013, Leaf River received a report that Parker had a handgun in his vehicle that was located in an employee parking lot. Leaf River requested and was granted permission to search Parker's vehicle. Leaf River found a handgun in Parker's vehicle. Immediately following the search of Parker' vehicle, Leaf River " suspended Parker's employment and directed him to leave the premises." (Compl. [1] at ¶ 12.) On December 13, 2013, Leaf River terminated Parker's employment. Leaf River's termination of Parker violated section 45-9-55 of the Mississippi Code (employee parking lots; employer liability).

Presently before the Court is Leaf River's Motion to Dismiss [7]. Leaf River seeks dismissal pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), and argues that this lawsuit is barred by subsection (5) of section 45-9-55. The motion has been fully briefed and the Court is ready to rule.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

To withstand a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), " 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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). " A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id.; see also In re Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co., 624 F.3d 201, 210 (5th Cir. 2010) (" To be plausible, the complaint's '[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.'" ) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). A complaint containing mere " labels and conclusions, or a formulaic recitation of the elements" is insufficient. Bowlby v. City of Aberdeen, Miss., 681 F.3d 215, 219 (5th Cir. 2012) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Although courts are to accept all well-pleaded facts as true and view those facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, courts are not required " to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as factual allegation." Randall D. Wolcott, M.D., P.A. v. Sebelius, 635 F.3d 757, 763 (5th Cir. 2011) (citations omitted). " [W]hen a successful affirmative defense appears on the face of the pleadings, dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6)

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may be appropriate." Miller v. BAC Home Loans Servicing, L.P., 726 F.3d 717, 726 (5th Cir. 2013) (quoting Kansa Reins. Co. v. Cong. Mortg. Corp. of Tex., 20 F.3d 1362, 1366 (5th Cir. 1994)); see also 5B Charles Alan Wright et al., Federal Practice and Procedure ยง 1357 (3d ed.) (providing that dismissal is proper when the allegations of the complaint are " essentially self-defeating" due to the existence of " a built-in defense" ). A court may consider matters of public record in deciding ...


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