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BERNARD v. Town of Lebanon

United States District Court, D. Maine

July 22, 2016

PAUL BERNARD, JR., Plaintiff
v.
TOWN OF LEBANON, MAINE, Defendant

          RECOMMENDED DECISION ON MOTION TO DISMISS AND MOTION TO AMEND

          John H. Rich III, United States Magistrate Judge.

         The defendant, the Town of Lebanon, Maine, moves, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), to dismiss the complaint in this action for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. For the reasons that follow, I conclude that the complaint fails to state a claim. However, I recommend that, rather than dismissing it, the court grant the plaintiff’s motion, posed in a single sentence at the end of his memorandum of law in opposition to the motion to dismiss, Objection of Plaintiff Paul Bernard, Jr. to the Defendant Town of Lebanon’s Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s Complaint (“Opposition”) (ECF No. 5) at 11, for leave to amend his complaint “to include a Due Process claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.” Specifically, I recommend that the plaintiff be afforded 10 days from the date of the court’s adoption of this recommended decision, if applicable, to file an amended complaint, following which the defendant’s motion to dismiss should be denied but failing which the complaint should be dismissed with prejudice.[1]

         I. Applicable Legal Standards

         A. Rule 12(b)(6)

         The Supreme Court has stated:

While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff’s obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.

Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citations and internal punctuation omitted). This standard requires the pleading of “only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         In ruling on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a court assumes the truth of all of the well-pleaded facts in the complaint and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Román-Oliveras v. Puerto Rico Elec. Power Auth., 655 F.3d 43, 45 (1st Cir. 2011). Ordinarily, in weighing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, “a court may not consider any documents that are outside of the complaint, or not expressly incorporated therein, unless the motion is converted into one for summary judgment.” Alternative Energy, Inc. v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 267 F.3d 30, 33 (1st Cir. 2001). “There is, however, a narrow exception for documents the authenticity of which are not disputed by the parties; for official public records; for documents central to plaintiffs’ claim; or for documents sufficiently referred to in the complaint.” Id. (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

         II. Factual Background

         The complaint sets forth the following relevant factual allegations.[2]

         The plaintiff, a student training in Massachusetts to become a paramedic, had begun a field internship with Cataldo Ambulance in that state. Complaint and Demand for Jury Trial (“Complaint”) (ECF No. 1) at 1. Lebanon Rescue Chief Raymond Parent instructed Mario Stefano, an employee of the town, to inform Cataldo Ambulance that the plaintiff was the subject of an ongoing fentanyl investigation, an allegation that the Chief knew or should have known to be untrue. Id. As a result, the plaintiff was suspended by Cataldo Ambulance and dismissed from the paramedic program. Id. The defendant town was served with a timely notice of claim under the Maine Tort Claims Act. Id. ¶ 6.

         The complaint alleges defamation, false light invasion of privacy, and tortious interference with advantageous educational and economic relationships, and seeks punitive damages. Id. ¶¶ 17-36.

         III. Discussion

         A. ...


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