United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Loretta C. Biggs, United States District Judge
initiated this action on May 14, 2018, alleging violations of
the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), 29
U.S.C. § 2617, and the Age Discrimination in Employment
Act (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. § 621, et
seq. (ECF No. 1.) Before the Court are the following:
Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint of Defendant Matrix
Absence Management, Inc. (“Matrix”), (ECF No.
10), and Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File Second
Amended Complaint (“Motion to Amend”), (ECF No.
16). For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion
will be denied and Defendant Matrix's motion will be
was a registered nurse employed by Defendant Cone Health.
(ECF No. 7 ¶ 11.) Matrix “was a third-party
administrator for defendant Cone [Health]'s medical leave
management.” (Id. ¶ 8.) On or about
October 18, 2016, Plaintiff alleges that she applied to
Matrix for personal medical leave. (Id. ¶ 12.)
Plaintiff alleges that Matrix sent Plaintiff a letter denying
her request for medical leave on or about November 9, 2016.
(Id. ¶ 14.) After receipt of the denial,
Plaintiff alleges that she notified her doctor, and her
doctor sent the completed medical certification to Matrix on
November 21, 2016. (Id. ¶ 15.) Plaintiff
“contends that she used her medical leave for herself
on November 15, 2016 and December 16, 2016.”
(Id. ¶ 16.) Plaintiff alleges that she was
later subject to discipline and terminated from her position
at Cone Health, in part because of the denial of her medical
leave. (Id. ¶¶ 19, 21.)
First Amended Complaint set forth three claims:
“compensatory damages under the FMLA, ” against
both defendants; “declaratory relief for compensatory
damages under the FMLA, ” against both defendants; and
age discrimination, against Cone Health. (Id.
¶¶ 30-41 (emphasis omitted).) Matrix filed its
motion to dismiss, arguing that “Matrix is not
Plaintiff's employer under the FMLA, ” and it
cannot therefore be liable under the FMLA. (ECF No. 10
¶¶ 4-5.) Plaintiff then filed her Motion to Amend,
in which she proposes adding claims against Matrix for
“tortious interference and vicarious liability under
respondeat superior.” (ECF No. 16 ¶ 7.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure “challenges the legal sufficiency of a
complaint, ” including whether it meets the pleading
standard of Rule 8(a)(2). Francis v. Giacomelli, 588
F.3d 186, 192 (4th Cir. 2009). Rule 8(a)(2) requires a
complaint to contain “a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,
” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), thereby “giv[ing] 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) (citation omitted). To
survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, “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 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). A
complaint may fail to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted in two ways: first, by failing to state a valid legal
cause of action, i.e., a cognizable claim, see
Holloway v. Pagan River Dockside Seafood, Inc., 669 F.3d
448, 452 (4th Cir. 2012); or second, by failing to allege
sufficient facts to support a legal cause of action, see
Painter's Mill Grille, LLC v. Brown, 716 F.3d 342,
350 (4th Cir. 2013).
Plaintiff's Motion to Amend
determination of whether to grant or deny a motion to amend a
pleading lies within the sound discretion of the district
court. Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962);
Deasy v. Hill, 833 F.2d 38, 40 (4th Cir. 1987).
Under Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,
courts should freely grant leave to amend a pleading
“when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a).
“This liberal rule gives effect to the federal policy
in favor of resolving cases on their merits instead of
disposing of them on technicalities.” Laber v.
Harvey, 438 F.3d 404, 426 (4th Cir. 2006).
“[L]eave to amend a pleading should be denied only when
the amendment would be prejudicial to the opposing party,
there has been bad faith on the part of the moving party, or
the amendment would be futile.” Johnson v. Oroweat
Foods Co., 785 F.2d 503, 509 (4th Cir. 1986) (citing
Foman, 371 U.S. at 182).
plaintiff's request to amend a complaint is futile if the
amended complaint could not satisfy the appropriate
requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, to
include Rule 12(b)(6). United States ex rel. Wilson v.
Kellogg Brown & Root, Inc., 525 F.3d 370, 376 (4th
Cir. 2008). The Fourth Circuit has cautioned that
“[l]eave to amend, however, should only be denied on
the ground of futility when the proposed amendment is clearly
insufficient or frivolous on its face.”
Johnson, 785 F.2d at 510. The Court will therefore
address Plaintiff's proposed claims for “tortious
interference” and “vicarious liability under
respondeat superior, ” (ECF No. 16 ¶ 7), under the
same standard as a motion to dismiss.
argues that Matrix tortiously interfered with her employment.
(ECF No. 15 at 7-9.) Under North Carolina law,  the elements of
tortious interference with contract are:
(1) a valid contract between the plaintiff and a third person
which confers upon the plaintiff a contractual right against
a third person; (2) the defendant knows of the contract; (3)
the defendant intentionally induces the third person not to
perform the contract; (4) and in doing so ...