United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
D. Whitney Chief United States District Judge
MATTER is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss (Doc. No. 4) Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Doc.
No. 1-2), pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure for failing to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted. Plaintiff responded in timely manner
(Doc. No. 8), and Defendant then replied to Plaintiff's
Response (Doc. No. 10). For the reasons stated below, the
Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss Counts III, IV, and VI, and DENIES
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Counts I, II, and V of
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint without prejudice.
to the Amended Complaint,  Plaintiff Natalie Nicholson is a
citizen and resident of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.
(Doc. No. 1-2, p. 3). Defendant Mecklenburg County is a
public entity existing and operating in the state of North
Carolina. Id. Plaintiff seeks declaratory,
injunctive, and equitable relief and monetary damages.
Id. The Complaint alleges Defendant hired Plaintiff
as a nurse around September 2006. Id. According to
the Complaint, in March 2012, Defendant offered Plaintiff a
part-time Coordinator position with the Breast and Cervical
Cancer Control Program Coordinator and the Wise Woman Project
(BCCCP Coordinator), which Plaintiff accepted; in December
2012, Plaintiff accepted a full-time BCCCP Coordinator
position and began working with another BCCCP Coordinator
(“the co-worker”). Id. Sometime around
late 2013, Plaintiff reported to management that: (1) patient
data she had gathered to submit to state governing agencies
disappeared, and (2) the co-worker had been failing to
complete and submit important data forms to state governing
agencies. Id. The Amended Complaint asserts that an
investigation revealed that the co-worker had hidden multiple
patient data forms in her office and had failed to properly
report and submit over seven years of data to state governing
agencies, which allegedly forced Defendant to return in
excess of $250, 000 to the state governing body. (Doc. No.
1-2, p. 4). Plaintiff contends that as a result of reporting
the co-worker's conduct, Plaintiff received negative
annual reviews for 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 years. (Doc. No.
1-2, p. 4, 5). Plaintiff further alleges management isolated
Plaintiff in an offsite location with limited resources,
support staff, and an increased workload. (Doc. No. 1-2, p.
5). Plaintiff contends management failed to act after having
heard Plaintiff's complaints and asserts that the she was
forced to resign in lieu of termination because she
complained to county management about the co-worker's
performance. (Doc. No. 1-2, p. 6-7).
asserts the following causes of action: (1) 42 U.S.C. §
1983 (Retaliation for Exercise of First Amendment Rights);
(2) N.C. Gen, Stat. 126-84 (Whistleblower Claim Act); (3)
Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress; (4) Tortious
Interference With a Contract; (5) Violation of Article I
Sections 1, 14, and 19 of the North Carolina
Constitution; and (6) Negligent Supervision. (Doc. No.
1-2). Defendant argues for dismissal of the Complaint in its
entirety because Plaintiff fails to state claims upon which
relief can be granted. (Doc. No. 4).
Failure to State a Claim
Standard of Review
motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) assesses
the “legal sufficiency of the complaint” but
“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). A complaint will survive a 12(b)(6)
motion if there are “enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 697 (2009) (quoting Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007));
see also Robinson v. American Honda Motor Co., Inc.,
551 F.3d 218, 222 (4th Cir. 2009). A claim is plausible on
its face when the plaintiff pleads factual content that
“allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 8(a)(2) only requires “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. When
ruling on a defendant's motion to dismiss, a judge must
accept as true all factual allegations contained in the
complaint. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94
(2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-56)
(internal citations omitted). Conclusory allegations are
“not entitled to be assumed true.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681. Though a complaint does not
require a high level of factual detail, it requires more than
“an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me
accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress
argues Plaintiff's Negligent Infliction of Emotional
Distress fails because Plaintiff has only alleged intentional
acts. (Doc. No. 5 p. 7). To pursue this claim, Plaintiff must
(1) Defendant negligently engaged in conduct, (2) that was
reasonably foreseeable that such conduct would cause the
Plaintiff severe emotional distress (often referred to as
“mental anguish”), and (3) the conduct did in
fact cause the Plaintiff severe emotional distress.
Johnson v. Ruark Obstetrics and Gynecology Associates,
P.A., 395 S.E.2d 85, 87 ( N.C. 1990).Conduct that is
“atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized
society” evidences negligent or intentional infliction
of emotional distress. Ennett v. Cumberland County Bd. of
Educ., 698 F.Supp.2d 557, 560 (E.D. N.C. 2010) (citing
Wagoner v. Elkin City Schools' Bd. of Educ., 440
S.E.2d 119, 123 ( N.C. Ct. App. 1994). Severe emotional
distress is any emotional or mental disorder, such as
neurosis, psychosis, chronic depression, phobia, or any other
type of severe and disabling emotional or mental condition
that professionals recognize and diagnose. Holloway v.
Wachovia Bank & Trust Co., N.A., 452 S.E.2d 233, 243
( N.C. 1994) (quoting Ruark, 395 S.E.2d at 97.). In
Wagoner, Elkin City School's Board of Education
hired the plaintiff as a teacher, who was later assigned an
In-School Suspension Coordinator position. Id. at
121. The plaintiff's supervisor placed her away from
other faculty members in a room with high humidity and
temperature, assigning her after-school and Saturday work
hours, and preventing her from attending workshops in the
area. Id. The court held such conduct was not
sufficient to allege extreme and outrageous behavior but was
rather indicative of mere insults. Id. at 124. In
Ennett, the plaintiff alleged that her supervisor
had given her a negative evaluation and asked her to retire,
which was insufficient to allege severe emotional distress.
698 F.Supp.2d at 560-61. In the present case, Plaintiff has
neither alleged any outrageous conduct nor alleged conduct
that led to severe emotional distress as required under
applicable law. For that reason, Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss is GRANTED with respect to Plaintiff's claim for
Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress.