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Doe v. Octapharma Plasma, Inc.

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division

June 2, 2015

Jane Doe 207 and Jane Doe 208, Plaintiffs,
v.
Octapharma Plasma, Inc., Defendant.

ORDER AND OPINION

Plaintiffs Jane Doe 207 and Jane Doe 208 (“Plaintiffs”) filed this personal injury action against Defendant Octapharma Plasma, Inc. (“Defendant”) seeking actual and punitive damages, costs and disbursements of this action, and such other and further relief as the court deems just and proper. (ECF No. 1-1.)

This matter is before the court on Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) (“Rule 12(b)(6) motion”) on the basis that Plaintiffs’ Complaint has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted (ECF No. 4), and Plaintiffs’ Motion to Amend the Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 15 (“Rule 15 motion”) to state with more particularity the offensive conduct alleged so as to moot Defendant’s Rule 12(b)(6) motion. (ECF No. 6.) For the reasons set forth below, the court DENIES WITHOUT PREJUDICE Plaintiffs’ Rule 15 motion and GRANTS Defendant’s Rule 12(b)(6) motion.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND TO THE PENDING MOTION

The facts as viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiffs are as follows.

Plaintiffs, presently adults, were victims of sexual abuse when they were children. (ECF No. 1-1 at 6.) Defendant employed Shane Martin (“Martin”) at its Columbia location, and when Plaintiffs visited to donate plasma Martin isolated himself with Plaintiffs and engaged in “inappropriate discussions and inappropriate physical contact . . . that intruded on their privacy, constituted a battery . . . and exacerbated their pre-existing injuries as childhood sexual abuse victims.” (Id. at 7.) Defendant’s staff did not supervise Martin and failed to respond to one Plaintiff’s complaint about the length of time Martin was spending with the other Plaintiff. (Id. at 7.)

Plaintiffs filed this personal injury action for negligent supervision in the Court of Common Pleas, Fifth Judicial Circuit, Richland County, State of South Carolina (Id.), which Defendant removed to this court on March 23, 2015. (ECF No. 1.) In their Complaint, Plaintiffs allege that Defendant negligently supervised Martin and created the opportunity for him to exploit Plaintiffs. (ECF No. 1-1 at 7.)

Defendant filed a Rule 12(b)(6) motion on March 27, 2015, claiming that Plaintiffs’ allegations were “wholly inadequate to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” (ECF No. 4 at 3.) Specifically, Defendant claims that Plaintiffs failed to allege sufficient facts to show either that Martin intentionally harmed them or that Defendant knew or should have known of the necessity to exercise control over Martin. (Id. at 3-4.)

Plaintiffs filed both a Response to Defendant’s Rule 12(b)(6) motion and a Rule 15 motion on April 12, 2015. (ECF Nos. 5, 6.) Plaintiffs intend to moot Defendant’s pending Rule 12(b)(6) motion with their Rule 15 motion. (ECF No. 6.) Plaintiffs do not concede that their Complaint lacks specific allegations, but they still provide additional details. (Id.) Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint adds that Plaintiffs have pre-existing mental health conditions as a result of their childhood sexual abuse. (ECF No. 6-1 at 1.) Plaintiffs also add that Martin isolated himself with them under the ostensible purpose of conducting a physical examination, which lasted over an hour for the first Plaintiff. (Id. at 2.) The Amended Complaint adds details of the interactions between Plaintiffs and Martin, including discussions of sexual conduct and Plaintiffs’ childhood sexual abuse, inquiries about the second Plaintiff’s tattoos, touching of the second Plaintiff’s breasts, and proposals of a “threesome” sexual encounter and other sexual acts. (Id. at 2-3.) These actions were conducted under the guise that they were necessary for the physical examination. (Id.) The Amended Complaint further adds that Plaintiffs twice called Defendant’s regional offices to complain and got no response. (Id. at 3.)

Defendant filed a Response to Plaintiffs’ Rule 15 motion on April 23, 2015. (ECF No. 7.)

II. JURISDICTION

The court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1) based on Defendant’s allegations that “there is complete diversity of citizenship between the parties under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)” and “it appears from the face of the Complaint, particularly the punitive damages claims, that the amount in controversy in this case is likely to exceed $75, 000.” (See ECF No. 1 at 2 ¶¶ 8, 11.)

III. LEGAL STANDARD

A. Motions to Dismiss Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted “challenges the legal sufficiency of a complaint.” Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 192 (4th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted); see also Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992) (“A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) . . . does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses.”). To be legally sufficient a pleading must ...


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