United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
ROBERT L. MATTHEWS, Plaintiff,
TRACY M. GEE, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION (GRANTING MOTION TO
E. Hudson United States District Judge.
Robert L. Matthews ("Plaintiff) brings suit pro
se against Defendants Tracy Gee, Nicole Clark, and
the County of Lunenburg, Virginia (collectively
"Defendants"). According to Plaintiff, Gee and
Clark, in their respective capacities as County Administrator
and Human Resource Professional for Lunenburg County, are
liable for committing tortious conduct and for violating
various state and federal statutes and regulations in
connection with Plaintiffs workplace injury and subsequent
matter comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss. (ECF No. 5.) Defendants seek dismissal of all
claims. Their central arguments are that Plaintiffs state-law
claims are all barred by the relevant statutes of limitations
and that Plaintiff has failed to sufficiently plead his other
claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
Defendants included an appropriate Roseboro Notice with the
Motion, as required by Local Civil Rule 7(K) and the Fourth
Circuit's decision in Roseboro v. Garrison, 528
F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975).
side has filed memoranda supporting their respective
positions. The Court will dispense with oral argument because
the facts and legal contentions are adequately presented in
the materials before the Court, and oral argument would not
aid in the decisional process. E.D. Va. Loc. Civ. R. 7(J).
reasons set forth below, the Court will grant Defendants'
required by Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, the Court assumes Plaintiffs well-pleaded
allegations to be true and views all facts in the light most
favorable to him. T.G. Slater & Son v. Donald P.
& Patricia A. Brennan, LLC, 385 F.3d 836, 841 (4th
Cir. 2004) (citing Mylan Labs, Inc. v. Matkari, 1
F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993)). At this stage, the
Court's analysis is both informed and constrained by the
four corners of Plaintiff s Amended Complaint. Viewed through
this lens, the facts are as follows.
case arises from Plaintiffs employment with Lunenburg County.
(Am. Compl. ¶¶ 5-6, ECF Nos. 1-10, 1-11.) In June
2007, the County hired Plaintiff as a "buildings and
grounds technician." (Id. ¶ 5.) Three
years later, in July 2010, Defendants offered Plaintiff
additional part-time work as an assistant Animal Control
Officer ("ACO"). (Id. ¶ 6.) Plaintiff
received initial training for the ACO position in March,
2011. (Id. ¶ 9.) After completing his initial
training, Plaintiff requested that Defendants provide him
with additional training as well as personal protective
equipment. (Id. ¶¶ 10-11.) Those requests
were denied. (Id.)
20, 2012, while working as an ACO, Plaintiff responded to a
call reporting a dog attack. (Id. ¶ 12.)
Immediately after Plaintiff arrived at the scene and exited
his vehicle, the dog attacked him as well. (Id.)
Plaintiff suffered multiple lacerations and punctures to his
throat, hands, and wrists. (Id.) He also tore his
right and left rotator cuffs, causing an 11% permanent
partial disability. (Id.)
of his injuries, Plaintiff filed a Worker's Compensation
claim which was approved. (Id. ¶ 13.) However,
that "claim is still pending resolution and
the attack, "Defendants] terminated Plaintiffs
employment in the position of ACO." (Id.
¶¶ 15-16.) Plaintiff remained out of work for two
years while recovering from his work-related injuries.
(Id. ¶ 16.)
alleges that in May, 2012, Defendants "participated in
defamation of character and invasion of privacy by placing
written statements and emails into Plaintiffs personnel file
documenting non-work related and non-medical related hearsay
and conversations purported to be fact." (Id.
¶ 17.) Plaintiff further alleges that Defendants shared
those defamatory statements with several other individuals.
(Id. ¶ 18.)
1, 2014, Plaintiff returned to work as a buildings and
grounds technician with Defendants' approval of
light-duty restrictions. (Am. Compl. ¶ 19.) Despite
Defendants' accommodations, Plaintiff continued to
experience pain in his right shoulder. (Id. ¶
20.) Consequently, Plaintiff took unpaid leave pursuant to
the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"),
beginning on September 11, 2015, and lasting through December
4, 2015. (Id.) Plaintiff underwent shoulder surgery
on September 25, 2015. (Id. ¶ 19.)
to the surgery, Defendant gave Plaintiff a performance review
[I]t has cost the County a great deal of additional part-time
staffing to compensate for Mr. Matthews['s] restrictions.
The County has gone above and beyond to accommodate the
restrictions, but we must draw the line when it costs us more
than our budget to get the job done. During Bob's
previous years of employment, the County rarely had to get
anyone to assist him to complete his duties. Contrarily,
since his return in August 2014 [after left shoulder surgery
due to dog attack] to full-time with restrictions, the County
has had to utilize inmate assistance and pay part-time staff
at an hourly rate to maintain the grounds, especially
weedeating, changing light bulbs, checking overhead leaks,
(Id. ¶ 21 (third alteration in original).)
October 22, 2015, Plaintiffs Worker's Compensation
physician submitted medical orders stating that Plaintiffs
medical condition limited him to sedentary work and that he
was restricted to "walking or standing occasionally,
[o]ccasional lifting of 10 pounds maximum and/or carrying
articles like small tools." (Id. ¶ 22.)
Additionally, the physician prohibited Plaintiff from working
with his right arm away from his body. (Id.)
December 4, 2015, Plaintiff received a letter from Defendants
indicating that his FMLA leave would expire on December 7,
2015. (Id. ¶ 23.) The letter stated that
Plaintiffs failure to return to work that day would be deemed
a resignation. (Id.) Plaintiff reported to work on
December 4, 2015, seeking to return to his light duty
restrictions. (Id. ¶ 24.) However, Defendants
stated "no light duty work is available. You are
terminated." (Id.) On December 14, 2015,
shortly after his termination, Plaintiff states that his
"restrictions were upgraded" by the attending
Workers' Compensation physician. (Id.)
filed a complaint against Defendants in the Lunenburg County
Circuit Court on August 30, 2016. (ECF No. 1-1.) That court
dismissed the case against Defendants without prejudice
because Plaintiff had pleaded insufficient facts to support a
cause of action. (ECF No. 1-9.) Plaintiff subsequently filed
his Amended Complaint on December 30, 2016, in the Lunenburg
County Circuit Court. Defendants removed the case to this
Court on January 17, 2017.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency
of a complaint; importantly, it does not resolve contests
surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the
applicability of defenses." Republican Party of N.C.
v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992) (citation
omitted). The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
"require only 'a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, '
in order to 'give the defendant fair notice of what the
... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'"
Bell Atl Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)
(quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)).
A complaint need not assert "detailed factual
allegations, " but must contain "more than labels
and conclusions" or a "formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action." Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555 (citations omitted). Thus, the "[f]actual
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level, " to one that is "plausible
on its face, " rather than merely
"conceivable." Id. at 555, 570. In
considering such a motion, a plaintiffs well-pleaded
allegations are taken as true and the complaint is viewed in
the light most favorable to the plaintiff. T.G.
Slater, 385 F.3d at 841 (citation omitted). Legal
conclusions enjoy no such deference. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
Court acknowledges that pro se complaints are
afforded a liberal construction. Laber v. Harvey,
438 F.3d 404, 413 n.3 (4th Cir. 2006). The Court, however,
need not attempt "to discern the unexpressed intent of
the plaintiff." Id. Nor does the requirement of
liberal construction excuse a clear failure in the pleading
to allege a federally cognizable claim. See Weller v.
Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 390-91 (4th Cir.
1990). As the Fourth Circuit explained in Beaudett v.
City of Hampton, "[t]hough [pro se]
litigants cannot, of course, be expected to frame legal
issues with the clarity and precision ideally evident in the
work of those trained in law, neither can district courts be
required to conjure up and decide issues never fairly
presented to them." 775 F.2d 1274, 1276 (4th Cir. 1985).
move to dismiss the Amended Complaint in its entirety.
Plaintiff has attempted to enumerate his Amended Complaint
into six separate "causes of action." However, some
of these counts appear to contain multiple allegations, while
others merely repeat previously stated claims. As best the
Court can discern, the Amended Complaint alleges:
One: Common law negligence and regulatory violations