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Martin v. Boeing Co.

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

December 15, 2016

DAVID MARTIN, Plaintiff,
v.
THE BOEING COMPANY, Defendant.

          ORDER

          DAVID C. NORTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the court on plaintiff David Martin's (“Martin”) motion to amend the amended complaint, ECF No. 8, and defendant The Boeing Company's (“Boeing”) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, ECF No. 7. For the reasons set forth below, the court denies the motion to amend and grants the motion to dismiss.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This litigation arises out of Martin's employment at, and termination from, Boeing. Martin was enrolled at Trident Technical College's “Ready South Carolina” program until he was offered a position as a Fabricator B with Boeing in the Ladson Interior Responsibility Center. Am. Compl. ¶ 3-5. The Fabricator B job description included “basic organic chemical conversion and paint preparation, ” but Martin almost exclusively worked in the paint booth at Boeing and his daily routine involved exclusively painting. Id. ¶ 5-6. During the course of his employment at Boeing, Martin alleges that he made several internal complaints about hazardous work conditions in the paint booth, specifically exposure to hazardous materials and the lack of protective gear. Id. ¶¶ 12-13. However, he did not file a complaint with state or federal Occupational Health and Safety officials. Id. ¶ 14. In August 2014, Martin approached his manager, Shannon “Kelly” Corbett, and indicated that he would no longer paint. Id. ¶ 12. Martin was then escorted to Human Resources and again indicated that he would not paint, at which point Martin was terminated due to “insubordination.” Id. ¶ 13.

         The complaint was initially filed in the Court of Common Pleas for Charleston County, and Boeing removed the complaint to federal court on August 11, 2016. Martin filed an amended complaint on August 29, 2016 containing four causes of action: (1) wrongful termination in violation of public policy, (2) defamation, (3) breach of contract and (4) negligent representation. Id. ¶ 1.

         Martin made a motion to amend the amended complaint on September 29, 2016. ECF No. 8. Boeing filed a response on October 17, 2016. ECF No. 11. Boeing made a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim on September 12, 2016. ECF No. 7. Martin filed a response on September 29, 2016. ECF No. 9. The matters have been fully briefed and are now ripe for the court's review.

         II. STANDARD

         A. Motion to Dismiss

         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 contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).

         A Rule 12(b)(6) motion should not be granted unless it appears certain that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts that would support his claim and would entitle him to relief. Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993). When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court should accept as true all well-pleaded allegations and should view the complaint in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. Ostrzenski v. Seigel, 177 F.3d 245, 251 (4th Cir. 1999). “To survive a motion to dismiss, 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 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (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.

         B. Motion to Amend

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a), a party may amend a pleading as a matter of course within 21 days after serving it; however, in all other cases, a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's consent or the court's leave. “The court should freely give leave when justice so requires.” Id. Applying Rule 15, the United States Supreme Court has stated:

If the underlying facts or circumstances relied upon by a plaintiff may be a proper subject of relief, he ought to be afforded an opportunity to test his claim on the merits. In the absence of any apparent or declared reason- such as undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment, futility of amendment, etc.-the leave sought should, as the rules require, be ‘freely given.' Of course, the grant or denial of an opportunity to amend is within the discretion of the District Court, but outright refusal to grant the leave without any justifying reason appearing for the denial is not an exercise of discretion; it is merely abuse of that discretion and inconsistent with the spirit of the Federal Rules.

Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). The disposition of a motion to amend is within the sound discretion of the ...


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