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Signore v. Bank of America, N.A.

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

December 13, 2013

JANICE SIGNORE, Plaintiff,
v.
BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., BAC HOME LOANS SERVICING, LP, and DISYS, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

RAYMOND A. JACKSON, District Judge.

Before the Court are three Motions to Dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, filed by Defendants Bank of America, BAC Home Loans Servicing, and DISYS. These matters have been fully briefed and are ripe for judicial determination. For the reasons stated herein, BAC Home Loans Servicing's Motion to Dismiss is DENIED. Bank of America's and DISYS's Motions to Dismiss are GRANTED IN PART, and the Court will accordingly dismiss Defendant's retaliation claim based on disability. Bank of America's and DISYS's Motions to Dismiss are DENIED IN PART, as to the remainder of their contentions. Further, Plaintiff is GRANTED limited discovery as to BAC, as detailed below.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Most of the relevant facts underlying this action were recited in the Court's October 8, 2013 Order ruling on the Defendants' first Motions to Dismiss. ECF No. 41. The Court will discuss below as necessary any new factual history relevant to deciding the instant Motions to Dismiss.

The Court's October 8, 2013 Order resolved the three Defendants' first Motions to Dismiss Plaintiff Janice Signore's First Amended Complaint. Plaintiff had alleged age, disability, and religious discrimination against her alleged employers. As to Bank of America, N.A. ("BANA"), the Court denied its Motion to Dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, finding that Plaintiff's suit was timely filed, and denied its Motion to Dismiss on the grounds that Plaintiff had not adequately pled that BANA was her employer. As to both BANA and Defendant DISYS, the Court 1) granted their Motions to Dismiss Plaintiff's American with Disabilities Act ("ADA") claim, finding that Plaintiff had not shown she was disabled, 2) denied their Motions to Dismiss Plaintiff's Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") claim, 3) granted their Motions to Dismiss Plaintiff's Title VII claim in light of Plaintiff's concession that she had had failed to make out a claim based on any religious discrimination, and 4) granted their Motions to Dismiss Plaintiff's retaliation claims but gave Plaintiff leave to amend her complaint to adequately plead retaliation. As to Defendant BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP, ("BAC") the Court granted its Motion to Dismiss because Plaintiff had failed to plead wrongdoing on the part of BAC, but granted Plaintiff leave to amend her complaint.

On October 21, 2013, Plaintiff filed her Second Amended Complaint. All three Defendants filed a second set of Motions to Dismiss on November 7, 2013. BAC renewed its claim that Plaintiff had failed to adequately plead any wrongdoing against it. BANA argued that Plaintiff's amended retaliation claims failed to plausibly state a claim for relief. DISYS contended that the Second Amended Complaint did not show that it had engaged in age discrimination or retaliation against Plaintiff. Plaintiff filed Oppositions to each Motion on November 21, 2013, and the Defendants filed their Replies on November 27, 2013. The Motions are fully briefed and ripe for judicial determination.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Rule 12(b)(6) provides for dismissal of actions that fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Fed. R. Civ P. 12(b)(6). The Supreme Court has stated that in order "Rio 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 (2007) (internal quotations omitted)). Specifically, "[a] claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded factual content allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

Moreover, at the motion to dismiss stage, the Court is bound to accept all of the factual allegations in the Complaint as true. Id. at 678. However, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. at 678. Assessing the claim is a "context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. at 679.

III. DISCUSSION

A. BAC's Motion to Dismiss

In Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint, the sole mention of Defendant BAC was that it was a subsidiary of BANA, for whom Plaintiff claimed that she worked as a contractor employee at one of its offices. Am. Compl. ¶ 1. In her Opposition to BAC's first Motion to Dismiss, Plaintiff contradictorily asserted that BANA is in fact BAC's successor by merger as of July 20, 2011, a date in the midst of Plaintiff's employment from June 2011 to January 2012. Second Am. Compl. ¶ 2. The Court granted BAC's Motion to Dismiss because it found that the First Amended Complaint was devoid of any allegations of wrongdoing against BAC, alleged to be a subsidiary. But it granted Plaintiff leave to amend the complaint as to its allegations against BAC.

Plaintiff has failed to ascertain the nature of the relationship between and BAC and BANA, and has simply amended her complaint to 1) substitute the terms "BAC and BANA" or "BAC/BANA" where the complaint had previously referenced only BANA 2) assert that she just does not know what the relationship is between the two entities, and whether there was a merger or if BAC is a subsidiary, and 3) cite the two cases that the Court cited in its previous order which reference two different dates for mergers between BANA and BAC. Second Am. Compl. ¶ 14 & n.1. BAC emphasizes this lack of specificity in the Second Amended Complaint in its renewed Motion to Dismiss, and contends that either BAC is a subsidiary, in which case Plaintiff must make specific allegations against it, or BANA is BAC's successor and therefore the only proper Defendant of the two.

The Court concludes that Plaintiff's amendments and the possibility that the merger took place in the midst of her employment are sufficient to survive BAC's Motion to Dismiss. Therefore, BAC's Motion to Dismiss is DENIED. Nonetheless, the Court will not allow full discovery to proceed against both BANA and BAC without first ascertaining the precise nature of their relationship and whether both are properly parties to this action as Plaintiff's employer. Accordingly, Plaintiff is GRANTED limited discovery to ascertain the nature of the corporate relationship. This discovery shall ...


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