United States District Court, E.D. Washington
DAN KOVANEN AND MEGAN KOVANEN, a marital community, Plaintiffs,
FEDEX GROUND PACKAGE SYSTEMS, INC., Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
SALVADOR MENDOZA, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dan and Megan Kovanen (together Kovanen) filed this
complaint in Chelan County Superior Court against Dan
Kovanen's former employer Ground Package System, Inc.
(FedEx). Kovanen alleges he was terminated by FedEx in
violation of certain FedEx policies and promises and he
asserts claims of breach of contract, specific performance,
and promissory estoppel. FedEx removed the case to this
Court, ECF No. 1, and now moves to dismiss pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state
a claim, ECF No. 4. Because Kovanen fails to allege facts
plausibly establishing breach of contract or promissory
estoppel, and because specific performance is not an
independent legal basis for a cause of action, Kovanen fails
to state any claim upon which relief may be granted.
Accordingly, the Court grants FedEx's motion and
dismisses Kovanen's complaint. However, because it is not
clear amendment would be futile, the Court grants Kovanen
leave to amend his complaint.
Dan Kovanen began working for FedEx on May 30, 1991. ECF No.
1-2 at 5. He was promoted to a Senior Manager position in
2011. ECF No. 1-2 at 5. He was never subject to any
corrective action, counseling, or progressive discipline
during his career with FedEx. ECF No. 1-2 at 5. At some point
in his career, his position at FedEx required him to move to
Wenatchee. ECF no. 1-2 at 5. On January 10, 2017, FedEx
terminated Kovanen's employment.
filed this complaint in Chelan County Superior Court in
September 2017. ECF No. 1-2 at 4. He alleges that FedEx
terminated his employment without complying with policies
Kovanen relied on to remain employed with FedEx. ECF No. 1-2
at 5. Specifically, he argues that FedEx failed to comply
with its “personal Improvement Policy-031, which
provides that the employees “[w]ill be informed by
management that their performance is below expectations and
that improvement is required[, ]” and “will be
provided a reasonable opportunity to correct performance
problems.” ECF No. 1-2 at 5. Kovanen cites several
examples of policies that require warnings or suspensions for
unsafe driving, although he asserts that his “basis for
termination did not include any claims of unsafe
driving.” ECF No. 1-2 at 5-6.
alleges one cause of action for “BREACH OF
CONTRACT/SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE/PROMISSORY ESTOPPEL.” ECF
No. 4 at 6. Kovanen alleges that (1) FedEx breached its
promises stated in its policies; (2) he reasonably believed
FedEx would treat him in accordance with those policies; (3)
the promise induced him to take action to his detriment and
injustices can be avoided only by enforcement of those
promises; and (4) he has suffered damages. ECF No. 4 at 6-7.
cites primarily Washington cases interpreting
Washington's pleading standards as establishing the
standard for review of a motion to dismiss. ECF No. 5 at 2-4.
These cases are inapposite. District courts sitting in
diversity apply the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 1; Knievel v. ESPN, 393 F.3d 1068, 1073
(9th Cir. 2005) (citing Erie R.R. v. Tompkins, 304
U.S. 64 (1938)).
may be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) either for lack of
a cognizable legal theory or failure to allege sufficient
facts to support a cognizable legal theory. Taylor v.
Yee, 780 F.3d 928, 935 (9th Cir. 2015).
“Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009). To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a
complaint must allege “enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim is
plausible on its face when “the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “Where
the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more
than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has
alleged-but has not ‘show[n]'-‘that the
pleader is entitled to relief.'” Id. at
679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).
alleges a single cause of action for breach of
contract/specific performance/promissory estoppel. In the
Court's view, and consistent with the parties'
analysis, these should be treated as three separate causes of
action. Because Kovanen fails to allege facts plausibly
establishing breach of contract or promissory estoppel, and
because specific performance is not an independent legal
basis for a cause of action, Kovanen fails to state any claim
upon which relief may be granted, and his complaint must be
Kovanen fails to state a breach of contract claim.
breach of contract is actionable only if the contract imposes
a duty, the duty is breached, and the breach proximately
causes damage to the claimant.” Nw. Indep. Forest
Mfrs. v. Dep't of Labor and Indus., 899 P.2d 6, 9
(Wash. App. 1995). FedEx argues that Kovanen's claim
fails because he did not allege that he and FedEx were
parties to a valid employment contract. ECF No. 4 at 4-5.
Kovanen argues that FedEx's employment policies altered