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Springfield Division Richard A. Bennett v. Wal-Mart Stores

May 19, 2011

SPRINGFIELD DIVISION RICHARD A. BENNETT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WAL-MART STORES, INC., JOSHUA ELROD, AND JESSICA WELLER, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sue E. Myerscough United States District Judge

Thursday, 19 May, 2011 05:06:20 PM Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

OPINION SUE E. MYERSCOUGH, U.S. District Judge:

This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint (d/e 20). For the reasons that follow, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is ALLOWED.

I. BACKGROUND

On March 8, 2011, Plaintiff, Richard A. Bennett, filed a Complaint (d/e 1) against Defendants, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (Wal-Mart), Joshua Elrod, and Jessica Weller. The Complaint alleges Defendants violated Plaintiff's rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) (29 U.S.C. § 2601, et seq .) by: (1) interfering with the exercise of Plaintiff's rights under FMLA in violation of 29 U.S.C. § 2615(a)(1), and (2) retaliating against Plaintiff based on Plaintiff's attempt to exercise his FMLA protected rights in violation of 29 U.S.C. § 2615(a)(2).

The Complaint alleges the following facts. Defendant Wal-Mart is an employer within the meaning of 29 U.S.C. § 2611(4) because Wal-Mart is a corporation employing 50 or more employees for each working day during 20 or more calender workweeks in the calender year of and previous to the events described in the Complaint. At all relevant times, Elrod was Plaintiff's supervisor and Weller was a managerial agent for Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart hired Plaintiff on or about May 5, 2009. On March 3, 2010, Wal-Mart "approved Plaintiff for FMLA on an unscheduled basis (intermittent) due to a 'serious medical condition' within the meaning of 29 U.S.C. § 2612(d) requiring orthopedic surgery of his right knee." Also on March 3, 2010, Plaintiff's health care provider estimated that Plaintiff's condition would "flare-up" twice during the next 6 months and that Plaintiff would need to be absent from work for 3 to 7 days per episode.

On August 10, 2010, Plaintiff informed his supervisor, Elrod, that he would probably not be at work the next day because of a flare-up of his "FMLA condition." Elrod responded, "[Y]ou better be here." Plaintiff did not appear for work the next day.

On or about August 13, 2010, Weller terminated Plaintiff's employment. Weller told Plaintiff that he was being terminated for misconduct because Plaintiff had cut the face of the time card clock with a box cutter and also cut the management photographs displayed next to the time card machine. Plaintiff denied the allegations. Weller then told Plaintiff there were two witnesses to the alleged misconduct and a surveillance camera recorded Plaintiff's alleged misconduct.

Plaintiff alleges that: (1) he was entitled to medical leave under the FMLA; (2) Wal-Mart, by and through Weller and Elrod, interfered with Plaintiff's FMLA rights and retaliated against him for exercising and attempting to exercise his rights under the FMLA; and (3) Weller and Elrod had a direct role in the termination of Plaintiff in retaliation for having exercised his rights protected by the FMLA and are jointly and severally liable.

On April 26, 2011, Defendants filed their Motion to Dismiss in which they argued the Complaint should be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6).

II. JURISDICTION AND VENUE

The federal questions posed by Plaintiff's FMLA claims give this Court subject matter jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. §1331. Personal jurisdiction and venue requirements are satisfied because the relevant acts occurred in this judicial district. See World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297 (1980) (personal jurisdiction exists where a defendant "purposefully avail[ed] [himself or herself] of the privilege of conducting activities" in the forum state); see 28 U.S.C. §1391(b) (venue ...


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