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Muller v. Morgan

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

June 3, 2013




Before the Court is Defendant Chelsea Klinke's Motion to Strike and Dismiss the Remainder of the Complaint (ECF No. 55). For the reasons stated herein, the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is granted in part and denied in part.


Defendant Chelsea Klinke ("Klinke") has filed a second Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff Melissa Muller's (hereinafter, "Plaintiff" or "Muller") Amended Complaint. As the Court already described the facts of this case in its December 27, 2012 Order (the "December Order") on Defendant's first Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 52, only a cursory review is provided here.

Plaintiff was employed as a Regional Manager at American Laser Skincare ("ALS"). Plaintiff alleges several instances in which ALS's former CEO, Rich Morgan ("Morgan"), engaged in sexually harassing behavior. This behavior led to ALS conducting an investigation into Morgan, for which Plaintiff was interviewed. Klinke, ALS's Vice-President of Sales and Clinic Manager, allegedly sought to determine and influence what Muller would tell the investigators. Klinke called Muller after the interview and grilled her about what she said, which caused Klinke to "freak out." Am. Compl. ΒΆ 37. Apparently as a result of the interview, Morgan was removed as CEO.

In the fall of 2010, Muller became pregnant. She informed Klinke, who was unenthusiastic and responded that they could not have everyone getting pregnant at the same time. In January 2011, Muller was informed that she was being placed on a Performance Improvement Plan ("PIP") even though her work had never been criticized. Klinke later told Muller that she needed to step down as Regional Manager and assume the position of Clinic Manager. Later that month, and prior to her maternity leave, she was demoted to Clinic Manager at greatly reduced pay.

Plaintiff took her maternity leave in May 2011 and returned in July 2011. In August 2011, she filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). She then received warning that she had 90 days to improve her performance, during which time Klinke fired Muller's assistant and refused to let her hire another. Klinke then visited Muller's clinic and criticized her performance.

Muller received a Right-to-Sue letter from the EEOC in November 2011, but in December 2011 ALS filed for bankruptcy and Plaintiff could not file suit against it. In January 2012, ALS received bankruptcy court approval to sell its assets free of liabilities, which were to be purchased by Bellus ALC Investments 1, LLC ("Bellus"). The day before closing, Plaintiff was terminated.

Plaintiff brought this action on March 12, 2012. She alleges various causes of action stemming from the alleged sexual harassment and retaliation she suffered at ALS. The original Defendants included Morgan, ALS, Klinke, Bellus, and Rhythm Manani ("Manani"), General Counsel and Vice-President of Human Resources of ALS.

Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on June 8, 2012. ECF No. 33. Klinke, Manani and Bellus moved to dismiss Plaintiff's claims on two grounds. See Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 35. First, Defendants argued that they should be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2) because this Court lacked personal jurisdiction over them. Second, Defendants claimed that the Court should dismiss Counts I, II, III, V, VI, VII, and VIII for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6).

In its December Order, the Court sought to address both of Defendants' arguments. The Court dismissed the case against Manani and Bellus for want of jurisdiction. While the Court determined that it had jurisdiction over Klinke, it found Plaintiff's Complaint failed to state a claim against Klinke under all counts except for her retaliation claims pursuant to the Illinois Human Rights Act ("IHRA") and the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"). Thus, only Counts III and V, those retaliation claims, survived.

Around the time the Court issued its December Order, Klinke's previous counsel withdrew from the case and she substituted present counsel. Following the ruling, Klinke's new attorney requested an opportunity to put forth a second Motion to Dismiss to assert arguments that she believed previous counsel should have made. The Court allowed Klinke to file this second Motion to Dismiss, which is now before the Court.


To survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint must comply with Rule 8(a) by providing a short plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief while providing defendants fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests. Chi. Police Sergeants Ass'n v. City of Chicago, No. 08-cv-4214, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72424 at *7 (N.D. Ill. July 6, 2011). In ruling on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), courts accept as true all of the plaintiff's well-pleaded factual allegations and any inferences reasonably drawn from them. Id. Also pertinent at the Rule 12(b)(6) stage are exhibits attached to the complaint and exhibits attached to the parties' briefs that are referred in the ...

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