United States District Court, D. Maryland
BELINDA C. WATSON, Plaintiff,
ADT, LLC, Defendants.
XINIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
October 11, 2017, Belinda C. Watson (“Watson”)
filed her Complaint in the Circuit Court for Prince
George's County, asserting common law fraud and wrongful
termination claims against Defendant ADT, LLC
(“ADT”). ECF No. 2 at 2. ADT removed the action
to this Court pursuant to diversity jurisdiction. ECF No. 1;
28 U.S.C. § 1332. On January 12, 2018, ADT moved to
dismiss all claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). See ECF No. 9-1. The Court now rules
because no hearing is necessary. Loc. R. 105.6. For the
foregoing reasons, the motion to dismiss, ECF No. 9, is
following facts are taken from the Complaint and accepted as
true for purposes of this motion. See Aziz v. Alcolac,
Inc., 658 F.3d 388, 390 (4th Cir. 2011). Plaintiff
Belinda C. Watson (“Watson”) began working for
ADT, LLC (“ADT”) in 1996, and was terminated on
October 29, 2014. ECF No. 2 at 1 ¶¶ 1-4. Shortly
thereafter, Watson complained formally to the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”),
alleging that ADT discriminated against her and that she had
been the victim of retaliation. ECF No. 2-1 at 2.
October 11, 2017, Watson filed suit against ADT in the
Circuit Court for Prince George's County, Maryland, for
common law claims of fraud and wrongful discharge. ECF No. 2.
In the Complaint, Watson alleges more particularly that ADT
did not compensate her for the three hours per week she was
expected to cold-call clients, nor did ADT pay her sales
commissions prior to her termination. ECF No. 2 at 2
¶¶ 1-3. Watson further asserts that she could not
physically reach the requisite quota for sales leads because
of the large geographic area to which she was assigned. ECF
No. 2 at ¶ 8.
properly removed the action to this Court, and then moved to
dismiss all claims pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) and Local Rule
105. See ECF Nos. 1, 9-1. Watson, who filed the
Complaint with the assistance of counsel, now proceeds
pro se. Watson responded to ADT's pending motion
to dismiss, in which she argued that “the motion is
premature in that no discovery has been produced, ” and
that she would supplement that pleading with a memorandum of
law. ECF No. 12. Watson has not submitted any further
pleadings to the Court, and the time for doing so is long
past. ECF No. 12 at 1. The Court now rules because the
Complaint plainly fails to state a claim, and any
supplemental briefing on the pending motion would not aid the
Court in any further determination.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a
plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations are accepted as true
and the complaint is viewed in the light most favorable to
the plaintiff. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007). “However, conclusory statements or a
‘formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action will not [suffice].' ” EEOC v.
Performance Food Grp., Inc., 16 F.Supp.3d 584, 588 (D.
Md. 2014) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). To
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint's factual
allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief
above the speculative level on the assumption that all the
allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in
fact).” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal
citations omitted). “To satisfy this standard, a
plaintiff need not ‘forecast' evidence sufficient
to prove the elements of the claim. However, the complaint
must allege sufficient facts to establish those
elements.” Walters v. McMahen, 684 F.3d 435,
439 (4th Cir. 2012) (citation omitted). “
‘[N]aked assertions' of wrongdoing necessitate some
‘factual enhancement' within the complaint to cross
‘the line between possibility and plausibility of
entitlement to relief.' ” Francis v.
Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).
Fraud (Count One)
the facts as pleaded in the Complaint, Watson plainly fails
to state a claim for fraud. Under Maryland law, to state a
claim for fraud a plaintiff must plausibly aver that: (1) the
defendant made a false statement; (2) the defendant was aware
that the statement was false; (3) the misrepresentation was
made for the purpose of defrauding the plaintiff; (4) the
plaintiff not only relied upon the misrepresentation, but had
the right to do so, and would not have taken that action if
the false statement had not been made; and (5) as a direct
result of the misrepresentation, the plaintiffs suffered
damages. See James v. Weisheit, 279 Md. 41, 44
(1977); Barr v. Flagstar Bank, FSB, 303 F.Supp.3d
400 (D. Md. 2018). Additionally, all claims alleging fraud
must be pleaded with particularity. See Fed. R. Civ.
9(b); see also Harrison v. Westinghouse Savannah River
Co., 176 F.3d 776, 784 (4th Cir. 1999); Bell v. Bank
of Am., N.A., No. RDB-13-0478, 2013 WL 6528966, at *1
(D. Md. Dec. 11, 2013). The claim, at a minimum, must
identify the “time, place, and contents of the false
representations, as well as the identity of the person making
the misrepresentation and what he obtained thereby.”
Harrison 176 F.3d at 784 (citation omitted).
the Complaint generally discusses Watson's concerns
regarding ADT's failure to property compensate her,
nowhere does it allege any false statements or omissions. The
Complaint does not reference any person from ADT having made
any false representation about her compensation or ADT's
commission policies, or that she suffered damages from such a
misrepresentation. See generally ECF No. 2. Watson
does not state when or where then alleged fraud occurred, or
point to a particular individual responsible for the alleged
fraud. ECF No. 2 at ¶¶ 1-3.
Accordingly, Count One is dismissed.
Wrongful Termination (Count Two)
agreements in Maryland are presumptively at-will, ” and
an employer can legally terminate an at-will employee at any
time for almost any reason. See Harig v. Progress Rail
Servs. Corp., 166 F.Supp.3d 542, 550 (D. Md. 2015);
Suburban Hosp., Inc. v. Dwiggins, 324 Md. 294, 303
(1991). However, an at-will employee may still state a viable
wrongful termination claim if the employee had been fired in
violation of a clear mandate of public policy. See Wholey
v. Sears Roebuck, 370 Md. 38, 50-51 (2002); Silvera
v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc.,189 F.Supp.2d 304, 309 (D.
Md. 2002). Terminations in violation of public policy are
narrowly circumscribed and “limited to situations where
the employee has been terminated for exercising a specific
legal right or duty or where the employee has been fired for
refusing to violate the law or the legal rights of a third
party.” Silvera 189 F.Supp.2d at 309-10. The
plaintiff must ...