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Washington v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority

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

October 10, 2019



          David C. Keesler United States Magistrate Judge

         THIS MATTER IS BEFORE THE COURT on “Plaintiff's Motion To Dismiss Defendant's Counterclaims” (Document No. 4). The parties have consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), and this motion is now ripe for disposition. Having carefully considered the motion, the record, and applicable authority, the undersigned will deny the motion.


         Pamela Washington (“Plaintiff” or “Washington”) initiated this action on January 28, 2019, with the filing of a “Complaint” (Document No. 1-1) in the Superior Court of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. The Complaint asserts causes of action against The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority d/b/a Atrium Health (“Defendant” or “Atrium”) for: (1) discrimination and retaliation based on race and sex; (2) discrimination and retaliation based on disability; and (3) wrongful discharge based on gender, race, and disability. (Document No. 1-1). Defendant filed a “Notice Of Removal” with this Court based on federal question jurisdiction on February 27, 2019. (Document No. 1).

         Defendant's “Answer To Complaint And Counterclaim” (Document No. 2) was filed on March 6, 2019. Defendant asserts counterclaims for breach of contract and unjust enrichment based on Plaintiff's alleged failure to comply with the parties' confidential “Release and Acknowledgement of Payment and Full Accord” (the “Agreement”). (Document No. 2, pp. 38-40). Defendant contends Plaintiff breached the Agreement by disclosing and/or publicizing its terms in the Complaint. Id. (citing Document No. 1-1, ¶¶ 40, 41 and 138).

         Now pending is “Plaintiff's Motion To Dismiss Defendant's Counterclaims” (Document No. 4) filed on March 27, 2019. Plaintiff also filed her “Answer To Counterclaims” (Document No. 6) on March 27, 2019. Defendant's “Memorandum Of Law In Opposition To Plaintiff's Motion To Dismiss” (Document No. 7) was filed on April 10, 2019; and Plaintiff's “Reply To Atrium's Memorandum In Opposition…” (Document No. 10) was filed on April 17, 2019.

         On April 16, 2019, the parties filed their “Joint Certification And Report Of F.R.C.P. 26(f) Conference…” (Document No. 8) and “Joint Stipulation of Consent to Exercise Jurisdiction by a United States Magistrate Judge” (Document No. 9). This case was re-assigned to the undersigned Magistrate Judge on April 17, 2019. On April 19, 2019, the undersigned issued a “… Case Management Plan” (Document No. 11) including the following deadlines: discovery completion - December 2, 2019; Mediation Report - December 16, 2019; motions - January 15, 2020; and trial - August 3, 2020.

         The pending motion to dismiss is ripe for review and disposition.


         A motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) tests 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); Eastern Shore Markets, Inc. v. J.D. Assoc. Ltd. Partnership, 213 F.3d 175, 180 (4th Cir. 2000). A complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss will survive if it contains “enough facts 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)); see also, Robinson v. American Honda Motor Co., Inc., 551 F.3d 218, 222 (4th Cir. 2009). “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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id.

         The Supreme Court has also opined that

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need only “‘give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” In addition, when ruling on a defendant's motion to dismiss, a judge must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint.

Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-56).

         “Although for the purposes of this motion to dismiss we must take all the factual allegations in the complaint as true, we are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.” Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986). The court “should view the complaint in the light most ...

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