United States District Court, D. Maryland
Antwyn Hayes, Jr.
Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, et al.
MEMORANDUM TO PARTIES
before the Court is Defendants Horseshoe Casino
Baltimore and Caesars Entertainment's
(collectively, “Defendants”) Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (ECF No. 10). The Motion is
ripe for disposition, and no hearing is necessary.
See Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2018). For the reasons
outlined below, the Court will grant the Motion.
Antwyn Hayes, Jr. was a slot attendant at Defendant Horseshoe
Casino Baltimore (“Horseshoe”). (Am. Compl. at 2,
ECF No. 4). Hayes was terminated on September 15, 2015
because $1, 000 was missing from his cash pouch.
(Id. at 6). On September 11, 2018, Hayes, proceeding
pro se, sued Horseshoe for wrongful termination, seeking
$100, 000 in damages. (ECF No. 1). He filed an Amended
Complaint on November 14, 2018. (ECF No. 4). The Amended
Complaint added Caesars Entertainment as a
Defendant. (Am. Compl. at 3). On May 6, 2019,
Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6). (ECF No. 10). Hayes filed an Opposition on May 24,
2019. (ECF No. 12). To date, Defendants have not filed a
purpose of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is to “test[ ] the
sufficiency of a complaint, ” not to “resolve
contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the
applicability of defenses.” King v.
Rubenstein, 825 F.3d 206, 214 (4th Cir. 2016) (quoting
Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th
Cir. 1999)). A complaint fails to state a claim if it does
not contain “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), or does not “state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face, ” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is
facially plausible “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. (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 556). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a
cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do
not suffice.” Id. (citing Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555). Though the plaintiff is not required to
forecast evidence to prove the elements of the claim, the
complaint must allege sufficient facts to establish each
element. Goss v. Bank of Am., N.A., 917 F.Supp.2d
445, 449 (D.Md. 2013) (quoting Walters v. McMahen,
684 F.3d 435, 439 (4th Cir. 2012)), aff'd sub
nom., Goss v. Bank of Am., NA, 546 Fed.Appx.
165 (4th Cir. 2013). In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a
court must examine the complaint as a whole, consider the
factual allegations in the complaint as true, and construe
the factual allegations in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 268
(1994); Lambeth v. Bd. of Comm'rs of Davidson
Cty., 407 F.3d 266, 268 (4th Cir. 2005) (citing
Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)). But,
the court need not accept unsupported or conclusory factual
allegations devoid of any reference to actual events,
United Black Firefighters v. Hirst, 604 F.2d 844,
847 (4th Cir. 1979), or legal conclusions couched as factual
allegations, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
as here, the plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the Court will
liberally construe the pleadings, which are held to a less
stringent standard than pleadings drafted by lawyers.
Erickson, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976));
accord Brown v. N.C. Dep't of Corr., 612 F.3d
720, 722 (4th Cir. 2010). Pro se complaints are entitled to
special care to determine whether any possible set of facts
would entitle the plaintiff to relief. Hughes v.
Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9-10 (1980). But even a pro se
complaint must be dismissed if it does not allege “a
plausible claim for relief.” Forquer v.
Schlee, No. RDB-12-969, 2012 WL 6087491, at *3 (D.Md.
Dec. 4, 2012) (citation and internal quotation marks
argue that the Amended Complaint should be dismissed for
failure to state a claim because Hayes was an at-will
employee who could be terminated at any time and for any
reason. They argue that although there are specific
exceptions to Maryland's at-will employment doctrine,
Hayes has not alleged that his termination falls within the
scope of an exception. Defendants also note Hayes'
failure to identify a clear public mandate that was violated
by his termination. In his Opposition,  Hayes does not
address the substance of Defendants' argument. Instead,
he focuses on the Department of Labor's Division of
Unemployment Insurance (“UI”) investigation,
which concluded that Defendants presented insufficient
evidence to establish that Hayes engaged in
misconduct. Based upon UI's finding, Hayes argues
that he was wrongfully terminated based on insufficient
evidence. The Court agrees with Defendants.
State of Maryland, an at-will employee may be terminated for
any reason or no reason at all. Terry v. Legato Sys.,
Inc., 241 F.Supp.2d 566, 569 (D.Md. 2003). However, an
at-will employee may bring a tort action for “abusive
or wrongful discharge” when his or her termination
“contravenes a ‘clear mandate of public
policy.'” Id. (quoting Adler v. Am.
Standard Corp., 432 A.2d 464, 473 (Md. 1981)). Thus, to
prevail on a wrongful termination claim, the plaintiff must
“specifically identify the clear mandate of Maryland
public policy that was violated by his termination.”
Szaller v. Am. Nat'l Red Cross, 293 F.3d 148,
151 (4th Cir. 2002). A mandate of public policy must be
“well-established” enough to give rise to a
wrongful termination claim, meaning there “‘must
be a preexisting, unambiguous, and particularized
pronouncement, by constitution, enactment, or prior juridical
decision, directing, prohibiting, or protecting the conduct
in question.'” Id. (quoting
Porterfield v. Mascari II, Inc., 788 A.2d 242, 245
Hayes was an at-will employee, who worked in the State of
Maryland. As such, Defendants could terminate him at any time
and for any reason. Thus, in order to prevail on a wrongful
termination claim, Hayes must allege that his termination
contravenes a clear mandate of public policy. Hayes'
Amended Complaint is silent on the matter and does not allege
any facts to support a finding that his termination was in
contravention of a clear mandate of public policy.
Furthermore, Hayes' Opposition does not address this
specific issue. His failure to respond to the Defendants'
argument is grounds for dismissal. See Muhammad v.
Maryland, No. ELH-11-3761, 2012 WL 987306, at *3 n.3
(D.Md. Mar. 20, 2012) (“Judges in this district have
held that, by failing to respond to an argument made in a
motion to dismiss, a plaintiff abandons his or her
extent that Hayes is arguing that his Amended Complaint
should not be dismissed because UI concluded there was
insufficient evidence he engaged in misconduct, the Court
rejects that argument. As Defendants correctly note, the
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has
ruled that a “Maryland unemployment compensation
decision [is] not entitled to receive collateral estoppel
effect” in a Title VII retaliatory discharge case.
Ross v. Commc'ns Satellite Corp., 759 F.2d 355,
357 (4th Cir. 1985). That decision is equally applicable to
Hayes' state law claim for wrongful termination. This
Court is not precluded from examining the sufficiency of
Hayes' Amended Complaint merely because UI ruled in his
favor; relatedly, this Court is not bound by that
determination. At bottom, Hayes has failed to allege
sufficient facts establishing wrongful termination of his
at-will employment. Accordingly, the Court will grant the
foregoing reasons, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (ECF No. 10) is GRANTED.
The Clerk is DIRECTED to change “Horseshoe Casino
Baltimore” to “Caesars Baltimore Management
Company, LLC” in the case caption.
the informal nature of this memorandum, it shall constitute
an Order of the Court, and the Clerk is directed to docket it
accordingly, to CLOSE the case, and to mail a copy to Hayes
at his address of record.
L. Russell, III United ...