The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Phil Gilbert District Judge
This matter comes before the Court on a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Doc. 68) filed by Plaintiff/Counterdefendant Champion Laboratories, Inc. (Champion). Defendant/Counterplaintiff William G. Burch (Burch) has responded (Doc. 78). For the following reasons, the Court DENIES the Motion.
This case is a consolidation of two actions. Champion filed its complaint in this Court, invoking the Court's diversity jurisdiction, alleging that Burch had embezzled funds while an employee of Champion, and seeking restitution of those funds. Burch filed his complaint in state court in Oklahoma alleging that he was terminated from his employment with Champion in retaliation for his refusal to participate in "price fixing" and/or in retaliation for reporting the price fixing and discriminatory pricing to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Burch's state action was removed to federal court, venue was transferred to this court, and the action was consolidated with Champion's action. After a failed mediation attempt, the Court entered a scheduling and discovery order which requires discovery to be completed by May 8, 2008 and dispositive motions to be filed by May 23, 2008. This case is set to begin a jury trial on September 15, 2008. Burch attempted to file a counterclaim without leave of Court in January 2007, but the Court struck the filing. In January 2008, Burch filed a motion for leave to file the counterclaim. The Court denied the motion. Champion filed the instant motion for judgment on the pleadings addressed to Burch's counterclaims, that is, the claims in Burch's amended complaint originally filed in Oklahoma.
The Court employs the same standard in deciding a motion for judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) as it does in deciding a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Pisciotta v. Old Nat. Bancorp, 499 F.3d 629, 633 (7th Cir.2007). The court must accept all factual allegations in the plaintiff's complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences from those facts in favor of the plaintiff. Erickson v. Pardus, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007) (per curiam ) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965 (2007)); Pisciotta, 499 F.3d at 633.
As a preliminary matter, the Court must decide from which pleadings to draw the facts. As the Motion is addressed only to the counterclaims raised in Burch's amended complaint, the facts considered by the Court are those alleged in that complaint. The facts alleged in Champion's complaint against Burch are irrelevant to the Court's determination of whether Champion is entitled to judgment on the pleadings for Burch's claims. As the moving party, Champion is not entitled to have its allegations accepted as true, nor is it entitled to have any inferences drawn in its favor. Accordingly, for purposes of this Motion, the Court will consider only Burch's amended complaint and Champion's answer to it.
Champion employed Burch as a salesperson from 1999 to 2006. Burch started off as a National Accounts Manager. Later, he was given the position of Division Sales Manager. Burch's employment with Champion was "at will." During the course of his employment, Burch became aware that Champion was providing information concerning price increases to competitors before it provided that information to its customers or the general public. Additionally, Champion was receiving information from its competitors regarding the competitors's price increases in advance of the competitors's customers or the general public receiving such information. Burch believed this conduct constituted illegal "price fixing," and he refused to engage in it, even though Champion directed him to do so. In addition, Burch became aware that Champion was discriminating in price between purchasers of commodities of like grade and quality. On January 13, 2006, Burch told an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about the price fixing and price discrimination. Later that same day, Champion fired Burch.
As stated above, the Court employs the same standard in deciding a motion for judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) as it does in deciding a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Pisciotta v. Old Nat. Bancorp, 499 F.3d 629, 633 (7th Cir.2007). The court must accept all factual allegations in the plaintiff's complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences from those facts in favor of the plaintiff. Erickson v. Pardus, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007) (per curiam ) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965 (2007)); Pisciotta, 499 F.3d at 633.
The federal system of notice pleading requires only that the plaintiff provide "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Therefore, the complaint need not allege detailed facts. Pisciotta, 499 F.3d at 633. However, in order to provide fair notice of the grounds for his claim, the plaintiff must allege sufficient facts "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. (quoting Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1965 (2007)) (internal quotations omitted).
The complaint must offer "more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of a cause of action's elements will not do." Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1965. The plaintiff's pleading obligation is to avoid factual allegations "so sketchy that the complaint does not provide the type of notice of the claim to which the defendant is entitled under Rule 8." Airborne Beepers & Video, Inc. v. AT & T Mobility LLC, 499 F.3d 663, 667 (7th Cir.2007). However, "when a complaint adequately states a claim, it may not be dismissed based on a district court's assessment that the plaintiff ...