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Mason v. Intercoast Career Institute

United States District Court, D. Maine

March 4, 2015

COURTNEY MASON, Plaintiff,
v.
INTERCOAST CAREER INSTITUTE, Defendant.

ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS AND MOTION FOR MORE DEFINITE STATEMENT

JOHN A. WOODCOCK, Jr., District Judge.

After dismissing those counts that the Plaintiff concedes must be dismissed, the Court denies the rest of the Defendant's motion to dismiss and motion for more definite statement because the allegations in the complaint are sufficient to allow the Defendant to craft an answer and to withstand summary dismissal. Also, the lack of specificity in the complaint would be better remedied by discovery, and the potentially dispositive legal issues presented in the surviving counts would be better addressed in a motion for summary judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Procedural History

On September 23, 2014, Courtney Mason filed a complaint in this Court, containing five counts: (1) retaliation under the Maine Whistleblower's Protection Act, (2) breach of contract, (3) retaliation under the False Claims Act, (4) First Amendment retaliation, and (5) Due Process retaliation. Pl.'s Compl. for Breach of Contract, Retaliation and Violation of Due Process (ECF No. 1) ( Compl. ). On November 14, 2014, Intercoast Career Institute (Intercoast) filed a motion to dismiss the complaint and/or a motion for more definite statement. Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss Compl. and/or Mot. for a [More] Definite Statement (ECF No. 6) ( Def.'s Mots. ). Ms. Mason responded on December 12, 2014. Pl.'s Mem. of Law In Opp'n to Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss (ECF No. 11) ( Pl.'s Opp'n ). Intercoast replied on December 29, 2014. Def.'s Reply Mem. of Law in Support of Mot. to Dismiss Compl. and/or Mot. for a [More] Definite Statement (ECF No. 12) ( Def.'s Reply ).

B. Dismissed Counts I and III

In her response to Intercoast's motions, Ms. Mason only opposed the dismissal of Count II - breach of contract, Count IV - First Amendment retaliation, and Count V - Due Process retaliation. Pl.'s Opp'n at 1. Ms. Mason did not object to the dismissal of Count I - the Maine Whistleblower Protection Act claim, and Count III - the retaliation under the False Claims Act claim. Id. at 1-10. In its reply, Intercoast urged the Court to dismiss Counts I and III. Def.'s Reply at 1. As Ms. Mason did not object to the dismissal of Counts I and III, the Court dismisses each count.

II. THE ALLEGATIONS AND THEORIES OF ACTION IN THE COMPLAINT

A. The Factual Allegations

Ms. Mason, a resident of Rochester, New Hampshire, was a student at Intercoast's for profit nursing school in Kittery, Maine beginning in October 2012. Compl. ¶¶ 1-6. Intercoast failed to provide her with the education, training or facilities that it had advertised and that are required by the Board of Nursing. Id. ¶ 7. Ms. Mason complained about the conditions at Intercoast to the President and Director of Nursing, but her complaints went unanswered. Id. ¶ 8. Due to a lack of response from Intercoast, on November 23, 2013, Ms. Mason wrote a letter to the Maine Board of Nursing and on November 26, 2013, Andrea Gauntlet, Director of Nursing at Intercoast, called Ms. Mason into her office to discuss her letter to the Board of Nursing. Id. ¶¶ 9-10. On November 27, 2013, Intercoast expelled Ms. Mason. Id. ¶ 11. Ms. Mason believes she was expelled in retaliation for her complaints to Intercoast and to the Board of Nursing. Id. ¶ 12. Ms. Mason claims that Intercoast receives federal funds and that it uses those funds to train students according to federal and state regulations. Id. ¶¶ 25-26.

B. The Counts

1. Count Two: Breach of Contract

In Count Two, Ms. Mason alleges that she entered into a contract "whereby the Plaintiff paid tuition to Defendant in exchange for a professional work-like atmosphere with mature competent professionals to teach Plaintiff the skills she needed to become a nurse." Id. ¶ 21. She claims that Intercoast "breached the subject agreement by exposing Plaintiff to ...


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