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McDonald v. Verso Paper LLC

United States District Court, D. Maine

September 22, 2015

MICHAEL D. McDONALD, Plaintiff,
v.
VERSO PAPER LLC, Defendant

RECOMMENDED DECISION

JOHN C. NIVISON, Magistrate Judge.

In this action, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant unlawfully terminated his employment in retaliation for taking medical leave, and that Defendant defamed him in connection with and following his termination from employment. The matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss or for More Definite Statement (ECF No. 9), which motion focuses entirely on the defamation claim (Count III).[1]

As explained below, following a review of the pleadings, and after consideration of the parties' arguments, I recommend that the Court deny Defendant's request for dismissal and deny the request for a more definite statement.[2]

BACKGROUND

The facts set forth herein are derived from Plaintiff's complaint, which facts are deemed true when evaluating Defendant's motion to dismiss.[3] Beddall v. State St. Bank & Trust Co., 137 F.3d 12, 16 (1st Cir. 1998). The facts as alleged also inform the assessment of Defendant's alternative request for a more definite statement.

Plaintiff Michael D. McDonald is a resident of Farmington, Maine, and was employed by Defendant Verso Paper at its place of business in Jay, Maine, from September 1987 through June 19, 2013.[4] (Complaint ¶¶ 1-3.) Plaintiff took family medical leave from approximately April 13, 2013, through May 6, 2013. ( Id. ¶ 4.) According to Plaintiff, Defendant's representatives escorted Plaintiff from the work premises on June 6, 2013, and terminated his employment on June 19, 2013. ( Id. ¶ 5.) Plaintiff alleges that his termination was in retaliation for his exercise of rights protected under the federal Family Medical Leave Act and the Maine Family Medical Leave Requirements. ( Id. ¶¶ 11, 17; Counts I & II.)

In his third cause of action (Count III), Plaintiff incorporates the prior allegations of the complaint and further alleges the following:

21. Defendant has published false statements intending to harm Plaintiff's reputation and deter third persons from associating with or dealing with him.
22. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, after Plaintiff's termination, Defendant has published and forced Plaintiff to publish false statements defaming his occupational and his professional fitness, including statements that his employment was terminated for making threatening statements, failure to meet performance standards and/or for other purported reasons relating to his alleged lack of fitness for his position.
23. Said statements were made intentionally, with knowledge of their falsity and with malice.
24. As a result of said defamation, Plaintiff has been and will be damaged, in such amounts as will be shown at trial.

DISCUSSION

Through its motion, Defendant contends that dismissal is appropriate because Plaintiff has failed in Count III to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Alternatively, Plaintiff requests that the Court direct Plaintiff to provide a more definite statement regarding the publications upon which Plaintiff bases his ...


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