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Kassin v. The Select Group, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

December 16, 2016

ELAINE I. KASSIN, Plaintiff,
THE SELECT GROUP, LLC, et al., Defendant.


          Gerald Bruce Lee, United Stales District Judge

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendants The Select Group, LLC, Kimberly Barber, and Cisco Systems, Inc.'s (collectively, "Defendants") Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. No. 6). This case concerns pro se Plaintiff Elaine Kassin's ("Plaintiff') Complaint alleging that Defendants breached an employment contract, engaged in negligence, and engaged in fraud in connection with The Select Group recruiting Plaintiff to work on a project for Cisco.

         There are three issues before the Court. The first issue is whether the Court may exercise subject matter jurisdiction, where Plaintiffs response to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss appears to challenge the appropriateness of Defendants removing this case to federal court. Because Defendants properly removed this action based upon this Court's diversity jurisdiction, the Court denies Plaintiffs request to remand this case to state court The second issue is whether, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court should grant Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs breach of contract, negligence, and fraud claims. The Court grants Defendants' Motion to Dismiss because Plaintiff fails to state a plausible claim for relief with respect all the claims she asserted in the Complaint.

         The third issue is whether Plaintiffs "Addendum" in response to the Motion to Dismiss, which appears to assert additional state-law claims, should be considered. To the extent Plaintiffs Addendum asserts new causes of action that Plaintiff did not allege in the Complaint, the Court declines to consider those new legal theories in response to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         The Select Group is a recruiting firm that, among other things, helps its clients staff positions with information technology ("IT") professionals. (Compl. at 1-2, Dkt. No. 1-1.) In May 2016, The Select Group contacted Plaintiff to determine whether she was interested in a project manager position for its client, Cisco. (Dkt. No. 1-5 at 7.) On or about May 18, 2016, Plaintiff signed an employment agreement with The Select Group (the "Employment Agreement"), which stated that the "Anticipated State Date [is] May 30, 2016." (Dkt. No. 1-5 at 11; Dkt. No. 7-1.) The Employment Agreement also stated that The Select Group may terminate Plaintiff "at-will" for any reason and without notice. (See Dkt. No. 7-1 at 1.) The same day that Plaintiff signed the Employment Agreement, The Select Group emailed Plaintiff acknowledging that it had hired her. (Dkt. No. 1-5 a 12.) The Select Group hired Plaintiff to work as a consultant to Cisco on a project that Cisco had planned to perform for Wells Fargo. (Dkt. No. 1- 5 at 14.)

         Within a couple weeks of Plaintiff signing the Employment Agreement, The Select Group and Cisco began the on-boarding process. During that time period, Plaintiff had at least one phone conversation with The Select Group recruiters and Cisco personnel, and she corresponded with them via email on multiple occasions. The email correspondence attached to Plaintiffs Complaint reveals that the on-boarding process became confrontational. And on June 1, 2016, The Select Group informed Plaintiff that "we will no longer be representing you to our client, Cicso, for the Wells Fargo PM opportunity effective immediately." (Dkt. No. 1-5 at 44.)

         This dispute arose based upon the expectations that Plaintiff had for when she would start working. It appears that she expected to start on May 30, 2016, but The Select Group needed additional time in order to coordinate with Cisco. Additionally, Plaintiff appears to allege that The Select Group improperly calculates hours when a person performs work prior to the official start of a project. (See Dkt. No. 1-5 at 36.)

         B. Procedural Background

         On June 10, 2016, Plaintiff filed her Complaint in the Circuit Court of Prince William County, Virginia. (Compl., Dkt. No. 1-1.) Liberally construed, the Complaint alleges breach of contract, negligence, and fraud. (Id.) The Complaint also seeks "$500, 000 for loss of income" and "$750, 000 for punitive damages." (Compl. ¶ 12.) On October 5, 2016, Defendants filed a notice to remove this case from state court to federal court. (Dkt. No. 1.)

         On October 10, 2016, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. No. 6), which was accompanied by a supporting memorandum (Dkt. No. 7). On October 27, 2016, Plaintiff filed a response to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, wherein she conceded that (1) her claims all relate to "breach of contract/negligence/fraud issues." (Dkt. No. 11 at 5.) Although Plaintiff s response reiterated facts alleged in the Complaint, the response did not address the legal arguments asserted by Defendants. In accordance with this Court's local rules, on October 31, 2016, Defendants submitted a reply brief. (See Dkt. No. 13.)

         Plaintiff filed a 44-page "Addendum to Plaintiffs Opposition to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, etc., " which attempts to assert new claims against Defendants. (Dkt. No. 14.) Plaintiff now appears to allege that, in addition to the three causes of action asserted in her Complaint, Defendants have violated her rights under (1) Virginia Code § 8.01-216.1 (The Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayer's Act); (2) Virginia Code § 40.1-29 (The Virginia Wage Payment Act); and (3) Virginia Code § 40.1-27 (Preventing Employment by Others of Former Employee). Plaintiffs Addendum also alleges that Defendants fraudulently induced her into employment by changing the start date and reducing the $55 hourly rate by $2. (Id. at 3.) With the Court's permission, Defendants submitted a response to Plaintiffs Addendum. (Dkt. Nos. 15-17.)

         On December 16, 2016, this Court held a hearing to consider Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, along with the various ...

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