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Walker v. Davita Health Care Partners, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

March 14, 2017

CONTENNA WALKER APPELLANT
v.
DAVITA HEALTH CARE PARTNERS, INC., DAVITA KIDNEY CARE, AND PATRICIA THOMPKINS APPELLEES

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 10/19/2015

         MADISON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. WILLIAM E. CHAPMAN III JUDGE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: HIAWATHA NORTHINGTON II

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES: SCOTT W. PEDIGO NAKIMULI ONI DAVIS-PRIMER

          BEFORE IRVING, P.J., FAIR AND WILSON, JJ.

          IRVING, P.J.

         ¶1. Contenna Walker appeals the judgment of the Madison County Circuit Court, dismissing her complaint against DaVita Health Care Partners, Inc., DaVita Kidney Care, and Patricia Thompkins (Appellees), arguing that the court erred in granting the Appellees' Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss.

         ¶2. Finding no error, we affirm.

         FACTS

         ¶3. In 2009, Walker began working for DaVita Health Care as a registered nurse. She alleges that in August 2012, Patricia Thompkins, her supervisor, asked her to refute allegations that Thompkins had improperly disseminated personal information about other DaVita Health Care employees. Walker claims that she refused to do so and was bullied, humiliated, and threatened by Thompkins over the next couple of months. In addition, she alleges that she was subjected to verbal and written criticism by Thompkins for her exposure of Thompkins's "improper work behavior." On or about October 12, 2012, Walker received notice from Thompkins that Walker was being terminated.

         ¶4. On January 7, 2015, Walker filed a complaint in the Hinds County Circuit Court alleging negligent and/or intentional infliction of emotional distress. On March 31, 2015, she amended her complaint to include the ground of wrongful termination. On July 31, 2015, the court granted DaVita Health's motion to transfer venue to Madison County. Davita Health then filed a motion to dismiss Walker's complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). The court found that all of Walker's claims failed as a matter of law and granted DaVita Health's motion to dismiss. This appeal followed.[1]

         DISCUSSION

         ¶5. "A motion under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint. In order to grant this motion[, ] there must appear to a certainty that the plaintiff is entitled to no relief under any set of facts that could be prove[n] in support of the claim." Fortenberry v. City of Hattiesburg, 758 So.2d 1023, 1026 (¶12) (Miss. Ct. App. 2000). "A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss must be decided on the face of the pleadings alone." Williams v. Mueller Copper Tube Co., 149 So.3d 527, 529 (¶3) (Miss. Ct. App.).

         ¶6. Walker argues that her complaint should not have been dismissed because she sufficiently pled her wrongful-termination claim, citing the public-policy exception to the employment-at-will doctrine set out by the Mississippi Supreme Court in McArn v. AlliedBruce-Terminix Co., 626 So.2d 603, 607 (Miss. 1993). Generally, "[i]n Mississippi-when there is no written employment contract-the employment relationship is at-will, which means that an employee may be discharged at the employer's will for good reason, bad reason, or no reason at all, excepting only reasons independently declared legally impermissible." Galle v. Isle of Capri Casinos, Inc., 180 ...


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