United States District Court, D. Maryland
Frederick Motz United States District Judge.
Mavy Anderson (“Anderson”) brings suit against
Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical System, Inc.,
(“Hopkins”) and Broadway Services, Inc.,
(“Broadway”), alleging various torts and a
violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Specifically, Anderson brings claims for: assault (Count I);
battery (Count II); false imprisonment (Count III);
intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count IV);
negligence (Count V); gross negligence (Count VI); negligent
hiring (Count VII); negligent retention (Count VIII); abusive
discharge (Count IX); defamation (Count X); respondent
superior (Count XI); and a violation of Title VII (Count
XII). Now pending are Hopkins' and Broadway's motions
to dismiss specific counts in Anderson's amended
complaint. (ECF No. 38; ECF No. 39). The motions are fully
briefed, and no oral argument is necessary. See
Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons set forth below, the
motions are granted. Counts I-VIII and Counts X-XII are
dismissed against Broadway; Counts I-VI and Counts IX-XI are
dismissed against Hopkins.
motion to dismiss stage, this court accepts as true the facts
alleged in the complaint. See Aziz v. Alcolac, Inc.,
658 F.3d 388, 390 (4th Cir. 2011). Plaintiff Mavy Anderson
(“Anderson”) “is a resident of Baltimore
County, Maryland.” (ECF No. 33, ¶ 1). Defendant
Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical System, Inc.,
(“Hopkins”) “is a large hospital located in
the City of Baltimore employing several thousand
people.” Id. at ¶ 2. In August 2009,
Anderson began working for Hopkins as a housekeeper.
Id. at ¶ 1. Her supervisor at Hopkins was
defendant Phillip London Shields (“Shields”).
Id. at ¶ 3. Shields is a resident of Baltimore
City and was employed by defendant Broadway Services, Inc.,
(“Broadway”), which is a part of the Johns
Hopkins Health System that works on Hopkins'
“maintenance, housekeeping, and other functions.”
Id. at ¶ 3.
alleges “beginning prior to August 2009 through March
2012, [she] was physically, mentally, and verbally harassed
by Shields.” Id. at ¶ 7. She further
alleges Shields sent her “sexually suggestive and
vulgar text message and emails, ” and that Shields
“made unwelcome sexually suggestive and vulgar
telephone calls” to her. Id. Shields would
also, according to Anderson, “corner [her] in areas at
Hopkins where they would not be seen, grab her, kiss her, and
make comments.” Id. Anderson also alleges
Shields would instruct her “to work in areas where she
would be alone, ” and he would become “infuriated
with [Anderson] if other supervisors moved [her] to areas
where she would be unavailable to him.” Id.
Moreover, Anderson contends Shields touched her without her
consent, and committed “violence” toward her.
Id. Specifically, she alleges Shields “coerced
and forced [her] to have sexual relations with him both in
his apartment and at the Hopkins premises, ” and that
he threatened “if she told anyone she would be written
up, reprimanded, suspended, or fired.” Id.
Anderson contends Shields ultimately “did make up
accusations and fabricate[d] poor work performance”
reports in order to get Anderson disciplined. Id.
Eventually, in March 2012, Hopkins terminated Anderson's
employment, which she alleges was based on Shields'
“fabricat[ed] poor performance reports.”
alleges that, as a result of the defendants' actions, she
incurred medical bills, psychiatric bills, and is now earning
a lower wager than she was while employed at Hopkins.
Id. at ¶ 8. Anderson commenced this action by
filing a complaint in the Circuit Court of Maryland for
Baltimore City on January 16, 2013. (ECF No. 2). Anderson
also filed a Title VII discrimination charge with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), and
the case was stayed pending resolution of the EEOC charge.
(ECF No. 4). The EEOC issued a right to sue letter on
February 26, 2016, and Anderson subsequently filed an amended
complaint that included the Title VII claim. (ECF No. 33).
Once the amended complaint was filed, defendants removed the
case from the Circuit Court of Maryland for Baltimore City to
the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. (ECF
amended complaint alleges twelve counts against the
defendants. The amended complaint first alleges various
intentional torts against all defendants based on
Shields' alleged conduct: assault (Count I); battery
(Count II); false imprisonment (Count III); and intentional
infliction of emotional distress (Count IV). (ECF No. 33,
¶¶ 9-28). Anderson next alleges negligence (Count
V) and gross negligence (Count VI) against Broadway and
Hopkins based on their alleged failure to provide a safe
working environment for Anderson. Id. at
¶¶ 32-38. Anderson's complaint also alleges
that Broadway negligently hired (Count VII) and negligently
retained Shields (Count VIII), id. at ¶¶
39-42, that Hopkins abusively discharged Anderson (Count IX),
id. at ¶¶ 43-44, that all defendants
defamed her (Count X), id. at ¶¶ 45-49,
and that Hopkins and Broadway are liable for
“respondent superior” (Count XI), id. at
¶¶ 49-51. Lastly, her complaint alleges a violation
of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against Hopkins
and Broadway based on alleged sex discrimination (Count XII).
Id. at ¶¶ 52-63. Defendant Broadway filed
a motion to dismiss all counts against it on May 27, 2016.
(ECF No. 38). Defendant Hopkins also filed a motion to
dismiss, or in the alternative for summary judgement, on May
27, 2016. (ECF No. 39).
Hopkins and Broadway have both filed motions to dismiss
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). “[T]he Court's consideration
of the 12(b)(6) motion [is] limited to the pleadings and
exhibits that are both integral and authentic, or matters of
public record.” Chesapeake Bay Found., Inc. v.
Severstal Sparrows Point, LLC, 794 F.Supp.2d 602, 612
(D. Md. 2011). To adequately state a claim under Rule
12(b)(6), a complaint, relying on only well-pled factual
allegations, must state at least a “plausible claim for
relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679
(2009). The “mere recital of elements of a cause of
action, supported only by conclusory statements, is not
sufficient to survive a motion made pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6).” Walters v. McMahen, 684 F.3d 435,
439 (4th Cir. 2012). In order to determine whether
Anderson's claims have crossed “the line from
conceivable to plausible, ” the court must employ a
“context-specific inquiry, ” drawing on the
court's “experience and common sense.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 680. When performing this
inquiry, the court accepts “all well-pled facts as true
and construes these facts in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff in weighing the legal sufficiency of the
complaint.” Nemet Chevrolet, Ltd. v.
Consumeraffairs.com, Inc., 591 F.3d 250, 255 (4th Cir.
2009). The court need not, however, accept unsupported legal
allegations, Revene v. Charles Cnty. Comm'rs,
882 F.2d 870, 873 (4th Cir. 1989), nor must it agree with
legal conclusions couched as factual allegations,
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, or conclusory factual
allegations devoid of any reference to actual events,
United Black Firefighters v. Hirst, 604 F.2d 844,
847 (4th Cir. 1979); see also Francis v. Giacomelli,
588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009).
moves to dismiss Counts I-VIII and Counts X-XII asserted
against it. (ECF No. 38). Hopkins moves to dismiss Counts
I-VI and Counts IX-XI asserted against it. (ECF No. 39).
Hopkins also argues the negligence and gross negligence
claims (Counts V and VI), the abusive discharge claim (Count
IX), and the defamation claim (Count X), are preempted by
Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act
(“LMRA”), 29 U.S.C. Section 185(c). I address these
arguments in turn.
Counts I-IV: Assault, Battery, False Imprisonment, and IIED
alleges various intentional torts against all defendants
based on Shields' alleged conduct: assault (Count One);
battery (Count Two); false imprisonment (Count Three); and
intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count Four).
(ECF No. 33, ¶¶ 9-28). Anderson seeks to hold
Hopkins and Broadway vicariously liable for Shields'
actions based on the following allegations:
Defendants Hopkins and Broadway are liable for the aforesaid
acts of Shields and each other. Shields was the agent,
servant, and employee of Hopkins and Broadway. Broadway is
the agent, servant and employee of Hopkins. Broadway and
Hopkins are liable for the aforesaid wrongful tortious acts.
Id. at ¶¶ 13, 18, 23, 28. Hopkins and
Broadway contend, however, they cannot be held vicariously
liable for these torts. Even assuming Anderson's
allegations could be construed as establishing an employment
relationship between Shields and the Hopkins,  I agree that
Hopkins and Broadway cannot be held vicariously liable for
these intentional torts.
is well settled that an employer may be held vicariously
liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior for
tortious acts committed by an employee, so long as those acts
are within the scope of employment.” Tall v. Bd. of
Sch. Comm'rs of Baltimore City, 706 A.2d 659, 667
(Md. 1998). The Court of Appeals of Maryland has described
the scope of employment requirement as follows:
To be within the scope of the employment the conduct must be
of the kind the servant is employed to perform and must [be]
. . . actuated at least in part by a purpose to serve the
master. . . . [W]here an employee's actions are personal,
or where they represent a departure from the purpose of
furthering the employer's business, or where the employee
is acting to protect his own interests, even if during normal
duty hours and at an authorized locality, the employee's
actions are outside the scope of his employment.
Samuels v. Two Farms, Inc., No. CIV.A. DKC 10-2480,
2012 WL 261196, at *9 (D. Md. Jan. 27, 2012) (citing
Sawyer v. Humphries, 587 A.2d 467 (Md.
1991)). This court has applied this standard,
“repeatedly [holding] that, under Maryland law, an
employer is not vicariously liable for torts arising from
sexual harassment by another employee because those torts
[arise] outside of the scope of employment.”
Id. at * 10.
example, in Perry v. FTData, Inc., this court
dismissed a plaintiff's claims against an employer
seeking to hold an employer liable for a male
supervisor's sexual harassment of the plaintiff. 198
F.Supp.2d 699 (D. Md. 2002). In dismissing the
plaintiff's claims for assault and false imprisonment,
the court stressed that the relevant question is whether the
supervisor, “who allegedly committed the tortious acts,
did so for [the employer's] purposes and with the actual
or apparent authority of [the employer].” Id.
at 709. The court ultimately dismissed the claims against the
employer, finding that although the supervisor perhaps
“used his supervisory authority over [the plaintiff] to
attempt to coerce her to engage in sexual activity, ”
the supervisor did not do so to further the employer's
business or with the employer's knowledge. Id.;
see also Davidson-Nadwodny v. Wal-Mart Assocs.,
Inc., No. CCB-07-2595, 2010 WL 1328572, at *9 (D. Md.
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