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Scheitzach v. Wells Fargo Bank, National Association

United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division

January 29, 2018

ARLENE SCHEITZACK, Plaintiff,
v.
WELLS FARGO BANK, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION and DOES 1-V, Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          TIMOTHY J. CAVAN, United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff Arlene Scheitzack (“Scheitzack”) brings this action against her former employer Wells Fargo Bank, National Association (“Wells Fargo”). In her Complaint, Scheitzack asserts causes of action for wrongful discharge under Montana's Wrongful Discharge from Employment Act, Mont. Code Ann. § 39-2-901, et seq. (“WDEA”) (Count I), negligent training and supervision (Count II), negligent investigation (Count III), and discrimination (Count IV). (Doc. 3.)

         Presently before the Court is Wells Fargo's Partial Motion to Dismiss Counts II and III of the Complaint (Doc. 4), which has been referred to the undersigned under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). (Doc. 9.) The motion is fully briefed and ripe for the Court's review. (Docs. 5, 7, 8).

         Having considered the parties' submissions, the Court RECOMMENDS Wells Fargo's Partial Motion to Dismiss be GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Scheitzach was hired by Wells Fargo in 2002 as a phone banker in Sacramento, California. (Doc. 3 at ¶7.) Over the years, Scheitzack advanced in the company, and in May 2011, transferred to Billings, Montana to take a position as a banker/assistant manager. (Id.) Scheitzack was ultimately promoted to the position of Store Manager I, and was recognized at the Wells Fargo national awards ceremony as a “Top Manager” for the Rocky Mountain District in 2014 and 2015. (Id. at ¶ 9-10.)

         In February 2015, Scheitzack took time off work to care for her ill father, and to address her own personal health concerns. (Id. at ¶ 14.) Scheitzack alleges she was treated poorly when she returned to work. (Id.)

         In August 2015, Scheitzack received a formal warning relating to a customer complaint and sales quality at her store. (Id. at ¶ 13.) Scheitzack alleges that before August 2015, she had never been “written up” for any reason. (Id.)

         In December 2015, Scheitzack received an informal warning by her supervisor for conducting personal matters during business hours. (Id. at ¶ 16.)

         On April 19, 2016, Scheitzack was terminated. (Id. at ¶ 17.) Scheitzack alleges she was terminated in front of her co-workers, without reason. (Id.)

         II. ANALYSIS

         “Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is proper when the complaint either (1) lacks a cognizable legal theory or (2) fails to allege sufficient facts to support a cognizable legal theory.” Zixiang Li v. Kerry, 710 F.3d 995, 999 (9th Cir. 2013) (quoting Mendiondo v. Centinela Hosp. Med. Ctr., 521 F.3d 1097, 1104 (9th Cir. 2008)). The Court's standard of review under Rule 12(b)(6) is informed by Rule 8(a)(2), which requires that a pleading contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-678 (2009) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P 8(a)).

         To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. A plausibility determination is context specific, and courts must draw on judicial experience and common sense in evaluating a complaint. Levitt v. Yelp! Inc., 765 F.3d 1123, 1135 (9th Cir. 2014).

         Wells Fargo argues Scheitzack's claims for negligent training and supervision (Count II) and negligent investigation (Count III) relate to the termination of her employment, and therefore, should be dismissed because they are preempted by the WDEA. Scheitzack counters that although she was ultimately terminated, Wells Fargo's interim conduct forms the basis of her negligence claims. Scheitzack argues she was subject to emotional distress and humiliation prior to her termination because Wells Fargo ...


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