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Barrow v. Branch Banking & Trust Co.

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division

September 18, 2017

RASCHECA BARROW, Plaintiff,
v.
BRANCH BANKING & TRUST COMPANY, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Robert J. Conrad, Jr., United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant's Partial Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, (Doc. No. 17); Defendant's Memorandum of Law in Support, (Doc. No. 18); Plaintiff's Response, (Doc. No. 21); the Magistrate Judge's Memorandum and Recommendation (“M&R”), (Doc. No. 28); Plaintiff's Objections, (Doc. No. 30); and Defendant's Response to Plaintiff's Objections, (Doc. No. 34).

         I. BACKGROUND

         No party has objected to the Magistrate Judge's statement of the factual and procedural background of this case. Therefore, the Court adopts the facts as set forth in the M&R.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A district court may assign dispositive pretrial matters, including motions to dismiss, to a magistrate judge for “proposed findings of fact and recommendations.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and (B). The Federal Magistrate Act provides that “a district court shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specific proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made.” Id. at § 636(b)(1)(C); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3); Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 200 (4th Cir. 1983).

         On a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the Court must accept the factual allegations of the claim as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Coleman v. Maryland Ct. of Appeals, 626 F.3d 187, 189 (4th Cir. 2010). To survive the motion, the “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 Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). To be “plausible on its face, ” a plaintiff must demonstrate more than “a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. A plaintiff therefore must “articulate facts, when accepted as true, that ‘show' that the plaintiff has stated a claim entitling [it] to relief, i.e., the ‘plausibility of entitlement to relief.'” Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).

         III.DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint alleges claims against Defendant for: (1) violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; (2) intentional infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”); (3) negligent infliction of emotional distress (“NIED”); (4) negligent retention and supervision; and (5) civil conspiracy. (Doc. No. 14 at 22-29). Defendant filed a partial motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). (Doc. No. 17). In their motion, Defendant seeks to dismiss Plaintiff's claims for: (1) IIED; (2) NIED; (3) negligent retention and supervision; and (4) civil conspiracy. (Id.). The Magistrate Judge's M&R recommends partially granting Defendant's motion by allowing Plaintiff's civil conspiracy claim to survive but dismissing her claims for IIED, NIED, and negligent retention and supervision. (Doc. No. 28).

         In his M&R, the Magistrate Judge found that Defendant's behavior, as alleged by Plaintiff, failed to clear the high bar of what North Carolina considers “extreme and outrageous” conduct required for an IIED claim. (Id.). Furthermore, the Magistrate Judge determined that Plaintiff's allegations for her NIED claim were based on discrimination. (Id.). As inherently intentional conduct, the Magistrate Judge found that discrimination cannot support a claim based on principles of negligence, thus requiring the dismissal of Plaintiff's NIED claim. (Id.). Because the Magistrate Judge recommended dismissing Plaintiff's IIED and NIED claims, the M&R dismisses Plaintiff's negligent retention and supervision as well. (Id.). Such a claim requires a common law tort as its foundation and, without her IIED or NIED claims, none are found in Plaintiff's complaint. (Id.). Lastly, the Magistrate Judge recognized that Plaintiff's arguments supporting her civil conspiracy claim were persuasive enough to survive dismissal. (Id.).

         Plaintiff objects to the M&R, arguing that discrimination constituted conduct outrageous enough to fulfill an IIED claim. (Doc. No. 30). Furthermore, Plaintiff argues that discriminatory acts may support an NIED claim because Defendant did not specifically intend to bring about the emotional distress of Plaintiff. (Id.). Finally, because her claims for IIED and NIED must survive, Plaintiff says so too must her claim for negligent retention and supervision. (Id.).

         After careful consideration of the M&R and both parties' arguments, this Court agrees with the recommendations set forth by the Magistrate Judge. Because objections were filed by the Plaintiff, the Court will discuss each objection in detail.

         A. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

         In order to succeed on a claim for IIED, a plaintiff must prove: “(1) extreme and outrageous conduct, (2) which is intended to cause and does cause (3) severe emotional distress to another.” Dickens v. Puryear, 276 S.E.2d 325, 335 ( N.C. 1981). The issue before the Court is what behavior constitutes “extreme and outrageous conduct.” Under North Carolina law, extreme and outrageous conduct ...


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