United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division
TIMOTHY J. CAVAN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
William Craft brings this action under 29 U.S.C. §
2615(a) against Lowell Burris, Paul Crnkovich, John
Arrasmith,  and Stillwater Mining Company
“Defendants”). Pending is Defendants' Motion
to Dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) (the “Motion”).
(Doc. 6.) As discussed below, the Court grants
Court has federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1331, because Craft asserts claims under 29 U.S.C.
§ 2615(a) for alleged violations of rights under the
Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”).
purposes of the pending motion, the Court accepts as true all
factual allegations contained in the Complaint (Doc. 1), and
construes them in the light most favorable to Craft.
Kneivel v. ESPN, 393 F.3d 1068, 1072 (9th Cir.
2005). Craft's Complaint contains the following factual
owns and operates the East Boulder Mine in Montana.
Stillwater employed Craft until December 14, 2014. Defendants
Burris, Crnkovich, and Arrasmith also were agents and
employees of Stillwater. (Doc. 1 at ¶ 4.) On or about
December 14, 2014, during a joint telephone conference call,
Stillwater terminated Craft's employment, effective
November 30, 2014. The decision to terminate was memorialized
in writing and signed by Burris. (Id. at ¶ 5.)
suffered from gastrointestinal disorders. In 2014, prior to
his termination, Craft took an undisclosed amount of leave,
and had also requested an undisclosed amount of FMLA leave.
(Id. at ¶ 9.)
alleges in Count I of his Complaint that Defendants denied
and interfered with his FMLA rights, and in Count II that
Defendants retaliated against him for the exercise of those
rights. (See generally Doc. 1). Craft claims that
the interference and retaliation resulted in his termination,
which caused him to suffer damages, including: (1) loss of
wages and benefits; (2) deterioration of his physical
condition; (3) medical expenses; and (4) unspecified out of
pocket costs. (Id. at ¶ 1.) Craft also seeks
equitable relief, including but not limited to employment
advance several arguments in support of their Motion. (Doc. 7
at 3-12.) First, Defendants argue that Craft has not alleged
sufficient facts to state a claim of interference under the
FMLA. Specifically, defendants maintain that Craft has not
alleged facts to establish his FMLA eligibility. They argue
that his claims are based on the premises that Craft was
eligible for FMLA and that Stillwater was an employer under
the FMLA, but the Complaint does not allege facts supporting
either premise. Rather, Defendants argue, Craft summarily
concludes that he was eligible for FMLA benefits and that
Stillwater was an FMLA employer. (Id. at 4-7.)
Defendants further argue that Craft did not allege facts to
show the Defendants' wrongdoing, and simply state that
Defendants interfered with his FMLA rights without any
factual basis. (Id. at 7-9.)
Defendants also contend that Craft has not alleged facts to
state a claim for retaliation under the FMLA. In this regard,
Defendants argue that Craft failed to allege facts to show
when he requested leave, for what purpose, from whom the
leave was requested, who denied the leave, and the temporal
relationship between the leave request and his termination.
Without these factual allegations, Defendants contend, Craft
has not sufficiently alleged a claim for retaliation.
(Id. at 9-10.)
Defendants argue that the Complaint fails to state a claim
against Burris, Crnkovich, and Arrasmith in their individual
capacities, because the Complaint includes nothing but a
formulaic recitation of the elements required for personal
liability. (Id. at 10-12.)
response, Craft argues that: (1) Defendants are aware of the
factual basis for the claims because Craft filed an
administrative complaint with the Department of Labor after
his termination (Doc. 10 at 2-3); (2) the omitted factual
allegations are more properly asserted as affirmative
defenses, and thus are not Craft's burden to plead
(Id. at 3-5); and (3) if the Court deems the
Complaint deficient in some manner, Craft should be allowed
the opportunity to amend to cure the Complaint (Id.
reply, Defendants argue that: (1) Craft bears the burden to
prove an employee's eligibility and an employer's
FMLA coverage as elements of an FMLA claim; thus, those
requirements are not affirmative defenses (Doc. 11 at 1-3);
(2) Craft does not address any of the authority Defendants
cited for the proposition that Craft's Complaint must
contain more than a recitation of elements of FMLA
interference and retaliation claims in order to survive a
motion to dismiss (Id. at 3-4); and (3) ...