The opinion of the court was delivered by: CHARLES KOCORAS, District Judge
This matter comes before the court on the motion of Plaintiff Ann
Rodi for leave to mend her complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.Proc. 15.
For the reasons set forth below, the motion is denied.
According to the complaint, Rodi was formerly employed as a sales
associate at Marshall Field's, a chain of department stores owned and
operated by Defendant Target Corporation ("Target"). Her manager at
Field's was a woman named Laura Gans. In December 2001, Rodi's husband
became seriously ill. Over a period of several months, Rodi requested
time off from work or to reduce her schedule to allow her to care for
him. She also developed medical problems of her own from the stress
and anxiety she experienced about her husband's condition, which
contributed to her requests for time away from work. Rodi alleges that
Gans repeatedly refused to allow her to take time off or to decrease the
number of days she worked per week. In October 2002, Rodi resigned her
position at Field's.
On October 21, 2003, Rodi filed a complaint that contained two counts
of violations of the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA").
29 U.S.C. § 2601-54.*fn1 Target filed its answer to the initial
complaint on December 12, 2003. The proposed amended complaint, filed on
February 26, 2004, seeks to add some factual material to the preexisting
allegations as well as a new state-law claim for intentional infliction
of emotional distress ("IIED").
Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.Proc. 15(a), a plaintiff may amend a complaint
once as a matter of course at any time before a responsive pleading is
served. Rule 15(a) provides that leave to amend a complaint "shall be
freely given when justice so requires," but if there is an apparent
reason not to permit the amendment, such as "undue delay, bad faith or
dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure
to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to
the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment., [or]
futility of amendment," Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182, 83 S. Ct 227,
230 (1962), the motion may be denied. See, e.g., Payne v. Churchich,
161 F.3d 1030, 1036-37 (7th Cir. 1998). The decision whether to grant or
deny a motion for leave to amend is committed to the sound discretion of
the district court. Perrian v. O'Grady, 958 F.2d 192 (7th Cir. 1992).
Target contends that the amendment is fufile for three reasons: it is
preempted by the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act ("IWCA"), its
allegations are insufficient to support a claim for relief under Illinois
law, and it is preempted by the Family Medical Leave Act. We address each
of these arguments in turn.
A. Preemption by the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act
Target initially challenges Rodi's IIED claim on the basis that it is
barred by Section 5(a) of the IWCA. That section provides, inter alia,
that an employee cannot bring a statutory or common-law suit for injuries
against his or her employer for injuries sustained by the employee while
engaged in the line of duty. 820 ILCS 305/5. The Illinois Supreme Court
has recognized four exceptions to this general rule: 1) the injury was
not accidental, 2) the injury did not arise from the plaintiff's
3) the injury was not received during the course of the employment, or
4) the injury is not compensable under the IWCA. See Meerbrey v.
Marshall Field & Co., Inc., 564 N.E.2d 1222, 1226 (Ill. 1990).
Rodi does not claim that her injury did not arise from her employment,
nor does she contend that it was not received during the course of her
employment. She also does not, nor could she, argue that her alleged IIED
injuries are not compensable under the IWCA. See Collier v. Wagner
Castings Co., 408 N.E.2d 198 (1980). Rodi hangs her hat solely on the
first of the Meerbrey exceptions. As Meerbrey and other Illinois cases
make clear, in determining whether an injury inflicted by a coworker is
"accidental," a court must consider whether the injury was expected or
foreseeable from the standpoint of the employee-victim and the employer.
See, e.g., Meerbrey, 564 N.E.2d at 1226; Collier, 408 N.E.2d at 202-03.
Whether the coworker-tortfeasor acted intentionally is not relevant. See
For the most part, Rodi implicitly concedes that an employer is
generally entitled to invoke the protections of the IWCA in suits
involving intentional torts by coworkers*fn2 but argues that this
general rule does not apply in this case because Target
commanded or expressly authorized the conduct of Gans. The case law has
recognized that, in such a scenario, the injury cannot be deemed
"accidental" from the employer's point of view, thus bringing the first
Meerbrey exception back into play. Meerbrey, 564 N.E.2d at 1226; Glowacki
v. Moldtronics, Inc., 636 N.E.2d 1138, 1140 (Ill.App. Ct. 1994).
However, Rodi's complaint is devoid of any allegation that Target
commanded or explicitly authorized Gans to act as she did. Cf. Bruce v.
South Stickney Sanitary Dist, 2001 WL 789225 (N.D. Ill. Jul. 12, 2001);
Fondriliak v. Commonwealth Edison, 1999 WL 51804 at *5 (N.D. Ill. Jan.
29, 1999). Her only contention in this regard is found in her reply
brief, which states that discovery will show that she attempted to notify
Target of Gans' behavior and received no response. Aside from the fact
that a party cannot flesh out an otherwise deficient pleading through a
response brief, Harrell v. United States, 13 F.3d 232, 236 (7th Cir.
1993), even If discovery showed precisely what Rodi asserts, that would
not rise to the level of a "command" or "express authorization" as
required by Meerbrey and its progeny.
Rodi also makes a halfhearted allusion to the possibility that Gans'
behavior can be directly attributed to Target because they are "alter
egos at this stage of the
proceedings." She apparently refers to the fact that, in deciding a facial
challenge to the sufficiency of a pleading, a court must make all
reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Galdikas v. Fagan,
342 F.3d 684, 688 (7th Cir. 2003). However, the proposed amended
complaint refers to Gans only as a manager of a Marshall Field's store.
See ¶¶ 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 30. The above standard does not mandate that
a district court make every imaginable inference in plaintiff's favor;
only reasonable inferences are required. See Coates v. Illinois State
Bd. of Ed., 559 F.2d 445, 447 (7th Cir. 1977). It is patently
unreasonable to infer that Gans, a manager at a single Marshall Field's
store, is for all intents and purposes interchangeable with Target
Corporation, an entity operating more than a thousand stores, under three
different chain names, ...