United States District Court, E.D. Washington
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT
SWANSON'S MOTION TO DISMISS
O. RICE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
THE COURT is Defendant Erik Swanson's Motion to Dismiss
Under Rule 12(b)(6) (ECF No. 12). This matter was submitted
without oral argument. The Court has reviewed the record and
files herein, and is fully informed. For the reasons
discussed below, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No.
12) is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
October 29, 2018, Plaintiff Chris Neese Blackman filed this
Complaint against Defendants Omak School District
(“District”) and Dr. Kenneth Erik Swanson
(“Defendant Swanson”). ECF No. 1. Plaintiff
alleges she was wrongfully terminated in violation of state
and federal law. Id. at ¶ 25. As compensation
for her injuries, Plaintiff seeks economic and non-economic
damages, as well as exemplary damages, punitive damages and
general damages relating to emotional distress and mental
anguish. Id. at 24.
instant motion, Defendant Swanson moves to dismiss several of
Plaintiffs' claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). ECF No. 12. Plaintiff filed a response to Defendant
Swanson's motion to dismiss. ECF No. 13.
following facts are drawn from Plaintiff's Complaint and
are accepted as true for purposes of the instant motion only.
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556
(2007). On April 27, 2016, Plaintiff entered into a
certificated employee contract with the District. ECF No. 1
at 3, ¶ 13. The District hired Plaintiff for the
position of Principal of Omak Middle School, commencing July
1, 2016. Id. This action revolves around events that
occurred during the 2017-2018 school year, which ultimately
resulted in Plaintiff being terminated from her position as
Principal of Omak Middle School on November 30, 2017.
Id. at ¶ 25.
about October 26, 2017, Plaintiff informed Defendant Swanson
that the District was illegally utilizing its ASB funds.
Id. at ¶ 19. Upon hearing this information,
Defendant Swanson allegedly responded, “Oh shit.
That's going to be a mess.” Id. Then, in
early November 2017, an administrative team meeting was held
with Plaintiff, Defendant Swanson, and several other district
leaders. Id. at ¶ 20. At the meeting, Plaintiff
led a discussion and informed everyone at the meeting that
the District had failed to pay certain classified staff
overtime wages and that many classified staff were working in
excess of forty hours per week without overtime compensation.
Id. at ¶ 21. Defendant Swanson allegedly
responded that the District could not afford to pay the
classified staff overtime. Id. at ¶ 22.
Plaintiff objected to Defendant Swanson's position, again
reiterated that the District was violating the wage law, and
told Defendant Swanson that she could not stand by while the
District did so. Id. at ¶ 23. Additionally,
Plaintiff and other building leaders were advised by the
District and Defendant Swanson of their intent to keep ASB
auditors away from the building and the District Office.
Id. at ¶ 24. Plaintiff also objected to this
November 30, 2017, the District and Defendant Swanson
terminated Plaintiff allegedly without cause from her
position as Principal of Omak Middle School. Id. at
¶¶ 25-26. Plaintiff asserts that her performance at
the time of her termination was satisfactory, and she was
well respected by her peers, teachers, staff and the students
at Omak Middle School. Id. at ¶¶ 14-15.
However, prior to her termination, Plaintiff disclosed to the
District and Defendant Swanson that she was experiencing
mental health problems relating to her job as principal and
was under a doctor's care. Id. at ¶ 25.
According to Plaintiff, armed with knowledge of her
disability and whistleblowing conduct, the District and
Defendant Swanson proceeded to terminate her from her
position as Principal of Omak Middle School. Id. at
Plaintiff's termination, Defendant Swanson announced to
District employees, students, parents and the community
“at a public (staff) meeting” that Plaintiff had
resigned due to medical reasons. Id. at ¶ 27.
Shortly thereafter, the District and Defendant Swanson
informed the Omak Chronicle and the Wenatchee World Newspaper
about Plaintiff's alleged resignation. Id. at
¶ 28. The Defendants also issued additional
notifications to District employees and the school community
that Plaintiff had resigned for medical reasons. Id.
Plaintiff maintains that she did not voluntarily resign, nor
did she authorize the District or Defendant Swanson to
disclose health related information about Plaintiff to
anyone. Id. at ¶ 29.
about April 9, 2018, Plaintiff applied and interviewed for an
elementary school principal position with the Pendleton
School District. Id. at ¶ 30. Plaintiff alleges
that Omak School District staff disclosed prejudicial
information about Plaintiff regarding her employment with the
District, which resulted in Plaintiff not getting the job.
Id. at ¶ 31. Plaintiff claims she was ranked
first out of the three candidates but was not selected for
the position as a result of the District's negative
portrayal of her employment. Id. at ¶ 32.
March 10, 2018, the District sent a letter to Plaintiff in
which it offered Plaintiff a lower paying job. Id.
at ¶ 33. Plaintiff maintains that the job offer was a
sham, as Defendants knew Plaintiff had moved out of the Omak
area and made the offer only after learning that Plaintiff
had retained counsel and would be making claims against the
District. Id. at ¶¶ 33-34.
Motion to Dismiss
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a complaint must
contain only “a short and plain statement of relief
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) provides that a defendant may move to dismiss the
complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). When
evaluating a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), courts must
“accept the allegations in the complaint as true, and
draw all reasonable factual inferences in favor of the
plaintiff.” Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41,
45-46 (1957). And, notwithstanding Rule 8(a)(2), the Supreme
Court has specified that pleadings which merely offer
“labels and conclusions, ” “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action, ” or
“naked assertions devoid of further factual
enhancements” are not sufficient. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007)). Thus,
while “detailed factual allegations” are not
required, “to survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint
must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).
Complaint, Plaintiff asserts the following eleven claims
against the District and Defendant Swanson: (1) Wrongful
Discharge in Violation of Public Policy; (2) Washington RCW
49.46.100 and FLSA Retaliation; (3) Wrongful Discharge Based
Upon Breach of Promise; (4) Violation Procedural Due Process
Section 1983; (5) Violation of First Amendment Rights; (6)
Breach of Contract; (7) Disability Discrimination under RCW
49.60 et seq.; and the ...