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Jaggon v. Community Health Services, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

November 28, 2018

LAWRENCE JAGGON, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMUNITY HEALTH SERVICES INC., Defendant

          RULING ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS (DOC. NO. 21)

          Janet C. Hall United States District Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         The plaintiff, Lawrence Jaggon (“Jaggon”), filed a Complaint against defendant, Community Health Services (“CHS”), seeking damages and equitable relief pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, section 2000e-2 of title 42 of the United States Code, and the common law of Connecticut. See Am. Compl. (Doc. No. 18) ¶ 1. CHS filed a Motion to Dismiss (“Mot. to Dismiss”) (Doc. No. 21). CHS seeks dismissal of Counts Three, Four, and Five of the Complaint. For the reasons stated below, the Motion to Dismiss is granted in part.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         To withstand a motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), “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. The plausibility standard is not a probability requirement; the pleading must show, not merely allege, that the pleader is entitled to relief. Id. Legal conclusions and “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, ” are not entitled to a presumption of truth. Id. However, when reviewing a motion to dismiss, the court must accept the factual allegations in the operative complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the non-movant's favor. See Graziano v. Pataki, 689 F.3d 110, 114 (2d Cir. 2012).

         If, on a motion to dismiss, “matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). However, extrinsic evidence that is attached to the pleadings or incorporated by reference may be considered on a motion to dismiss, as well as matters of which judicial notice may be taken. See New York Pet Welfare Ass'n, Inc. v. City of New York, 850 F.3d 79, 86 (2d Cir. 2017).

         III. FACTS[1]

         Jaggon is a Registered Nurse (“RN”), with 18 years of experience. Am. Compl. ¶ 4. At the time the Complaint was filed, Jaggon, a Jamaican national, was 53. Id. Defendant CHS is a corporation incorporated pursuant to the laws of the State of Connecticut. Id. ¶ 7. Jaggon worked at CHS before being terminated on October 21, 2016. Id. ¶ 6. He does not allege how long he was employed by CHS.

         Jaggon alleges that CHS and its agents created a hostile work environment, punished him for reporting violations of policy and law, subjected him to disparate treatment based on his race, and wrongfully terminated his employment. See Am. Compl. ¶¶ 10-17, 25-35; 50-57, 72-75; 79-84, 86-88, 90-93, 104-06, 113-20. Jaggon further alleges that agents of CHS “published slanderous information” about Jaggon, specifically by stating that Jaggon was “a problem employee and that his coworkers should not associate with him.” Id. ¶ 138. Jaggon alleges that the CEO of CHS, Greg Stanton (“Stanton”) published slanderous information by stating that Jaggon's coworkers should “stay away from him.” Id. ¶ 139. Jaggon also alleges that CHS engaged in “ongoing and outrageous conduct, ” causing Jaggon to suffer sleeplessness and anxiety. Id. ¶¶ 148-50.

         IV. DISCUSSION

         CHS seeks dismissal of Counts Three, Four, and Five. See Mot. to Dismiss at 1. CHS argues that Count Three must be dismissed because Jaggon failed to allege facts sufficient to support a claim for defamation. Id. CHS argues Count Four must be dismissed because it fails to allege unreasonable conduct in the termination process. Id. CHS argues that Count Five should be dismissed because it does not state a claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress against CHS. Id. The court addresses each argument in turn.

         A. Count Three: Defamation

         In Count Three, Jaggon alleges that CHS is liable for defamation, because its agents published “slanderous information” about Jaggon, specifically that he was “a problem employee and that his coworkers should not associate with him.” Am. Compl. ¶ 138. Jaggon also alleges that, in one instance, Stanton stated that “coworker[s] of the Plaintiff should stay away from him.” Id. ¶ 139. CHS argues that Count Three should be dismissed because the alleged defamatory statements are expressions of opinion, not statements of fact. Defendant's Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss (“Def.'s Mem. in Supp”) (Doc. No. 21-1) at 3. Jaggon responds that the Complaint alleges sufficient facts to plausibly support a claim of defamation. See Jaggon Opposition to Motion to Dismiss (“Jaggon Opp.”) (Doc. No. 34) at 4.

         To establish a prima facie case of defamation in Connecticut, the plaintiff must demonstrate that: “(1) the defendant published a defamatory statement; (2) the defamatory statement identified the plaintiff to a third person; (3) the defamatory statement was published to a third person; and (4) the plaintiff's reputation suffered injury ...


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