United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Northern Division
TAMARA R. MURRILL, Plaintiff,
CHOICE HOTELS INTERNATIONAL, INC., Defendant.
W. FLANAGAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the court on defendant's motion to
dismiss plaintiff's amended complaint for failure to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted, pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (DE 32). Plaintiff
responded in opposition and defendant replied. In this
posture, the issues raised are ripe for ruling. For the
following reasons, defendant's motion is granted.
OF THE CASE
who formerly worked at an EconoLodge hotel located in
Elizabeth City, North Carolina (the “EconoLodge”
or the “hotel”), commenced this action against
defendant, allegedly a franchisor of the EconoLodge,
asserting claims of negligence arising from an assault upon
plaintiff by a hotel guest. On April 17, 2019, the court
dismissed plaintiff's claims in part with prejudice and
in part without prejudice, allowing plaintiff an opportunity
to file a motion for leave to amend. See Murrill v.
Choice Hotels Int'l, Inc., 383 F.Supp.3d 594, 603
(E.D. N.C. 2019). Upon plaintiff's unopposed motion, the
court allowed plaintiff to file an amended complaint.
6, 2019, plaintiff filed the operative amended complaint
(hereinafter, the “amended complaint”). Defendant
filed the instant motion to dismiss on June 25, 2019, arguing
that plaintiff's claims fail as a matter of law, and in
the alternative that dismissal is warranted because plaintiff
did not file her amended complaint in the time allowed by the
court. Plaintiff responded in opposition on July 5, 2019, and
defendant replied on July 11, 2019.
OF THE FACTS
facts alleged in the amended complaint may be summarized as
follows. Plaintiff began working at the EconoLodge at the end
of 2015, when she was 17 years of age. Defendant, a Delaware
corporation with principal office in Maryland, was at all
times relevant herein a franchisor of the EconoLodge.
was employed to run the front desk and perform other menial
tasks at the hotel. At the time of her employment plaintiff
was a senior in high school, with limited work experience.
Plaintiff applied for the position by calling the hotel and
asking if they had any open positions. Plaintiff
“believed she was being employed by
‘EconoLodge,' a national hotel chain, which is
owned and controlled by” defendant. (Am. Compl. ¶
employment, plaintiff received minimal training, including
training to use a software system for payment and
reservations, which was controlled, owned, and created by
defendant. Defendant also provides software for further
training to employees of the EconoLodge regarding day-to-day
employment activities. “[S]aid software is known as
‘Choice University' and is a program designed and
implemented by [defendant] and required to be used by the
franchisee.” (Id. ¶ 11). According to the
amended complaint, defendant undertook the following actions
with respect to training and oversight of the EconoLodge:
Defendant requires of each of its franchisees to enter into a
franchise agreement which requires the following affirmative
actions on the part of both parties as it pertains to
regulations and rules:
i. [the franchisee shall] comply with the requirements of the
agreement and the rules and regulations [provided by
ii. The right of the Defendant to periodically inspect the
franchisee property and procedures and advise on changes the
hotel ‘must' make to comply with
the rules and regulations iii. Define rules and regulations
as current rules and regulations applying to all hotels
created by the Defendant and including operating and
maintaining the hotel.
iv. Requires mandatory training for General Manager.
v. Requires on site hotel training and review upon initial
licensing vi. Conducts mandatory and voluntary training
programs, as well as regularly scheduled training seminars,
and interactive computer and mobile ...